Protecting Medical Staff in Syria

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Following almost 10 years of civil war and displacement of the population, Syria’s healthcare system has been decimated. According to the World Health Organization, only 50% of hospitals across Syria are fully functioning, 25% are partially functioning due to a shortage of staff, equipment, medicines or damage to hospital buildings, while the remaining 25% are not functioning at all.

Health workers have directly suffered the effects of the war, both personally and professionally, and have often been targets themselves. By 2013, 70% of the workforce had left the country.

COVID-19 has added even more pressure to the healthcare system, affecting the health outcomes of the residents of Syria as well as the remaining healthcare professionals who are treating them. Inadequate distribution of personal protective equipment and shortages of supplies has led to high death counts of healthcare workers.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the UOSSM Canada to immediately provide vital hygiene supplies and protective equipment to medical and non-medical staff working in medical facilities in Northwest Syria.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) was established in 2012 in Paris in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Today it is a coalition of humanitarian, non-governmental, and medical organizations from Turkey, France, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and is the UN’s major partner in Syria.

As part of CMF’s Stop the Gaps Campaign, CMF will be partnering with UOSSM Canada on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to protect medical personnel and non-medical staff working in close contact with COVD-19 patients at Corona Treatment-Community Centres (CCTCs). In northwest Syria where the project is based, UOSSM currently operates 14 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), 7 hospitals, 22 specialized health and mental health centres, 8 mobile clinics, as well as 13 Corona Community Treatment Centres.

Through this project, staff will be provided with supplies such as disposable gowns, aprons and masks, Personal Protective Equipment (Class B) face shields, protective goggles, surgical bonnets, gloves (surgical and examination), shoe covers, and basic items like hand sanitizer and soap.

To help cover the cost of these necessary items to protect medical and non-medical staff working in CCTC’s in Northwest Syria, please consider donating to our Stop the Gaps campaign.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

 

Oral Knowledge Transfer and COVID-19 Prevention

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Across Canada as the rate of new COVID-19 infections has been steadily decreasing among the overall population, the cases of COVID-19 are rising in Indigenous communities.

According to Canada Public Health and Indigenous Services data, Indigenous communities currently have about 8 percent of the country’s active COVID-19 cases, despite accounting for about 5 percent of the total population.

While Ontario and Quebec had been the epicentre of the outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they can make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre for the development of oral Cree messages for increasing and enhancing understanding of COVID-19 prevention protocols, testing, precautions, and social distancing.

In addition to social and economic barriers impacting the health of First Nations communities, messaging around COVID-19 has primarily been developed and delivered in literature format which has had limited impact at the community level, in particular with groups that have lower literacy levels and have Cree as a first language. Particularly Elders and knowledge holders who are critical influencers of healthier choices and practices and messaging. Oral knowledge transfer through key messaging remains a very powerful way to influence and get critical messages out to multiple groups in a fast, efficient and consistent way.

Through CMF’s Stop the Gaps Campaign, the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre will be implementing the Wellbeing and Safety Cree Audio and Video Messages Project in 37 of 47 communities in Alberta who are Cree speaking.

A mix of virtual and in person engagement sessions with Cree speaking Knowledge holders will be developed. The engagement sessions will include messaging around COVID-19 transmission, risks, prevention and self-care.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

Hygiene Support to those Displaced by Conflict in Syria (completed)

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Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, which is nearing its tenth year, Northwest Syria has become home for more than four million internally displaced people. Most displaced populations suffer from very difficult living conditions in the midst of acute shortages in basic services, especially in the makeshift camps.

For the past year, COVID19 has created a new challenge in the region and exacerbated the suffering of the displaced people. The makeshift camps and concentrations of internally displaced people are lacking in the minimal necessities required to prevent the spread of the virus among families. In addition, the overcrowded nature of makeshift camps leaves no room for social distancing. This has put additional pressure on organizations working in the region to implement emergency response projects that specifically address this new challenge.

As part of a special Close the Gaps initiative to help prevent, limit, and stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, CMF partnered with the Molham Volunteering Team to provide vital hygiene supplies and facemasks to households in Azaz area, located in northern Aleppo governorate, Northwest Syria.

The area is home to large concentrations of displaced people in Syria because it is considered a relatively safe area. Even so, local project partners face challenges implementing projects like this one on a regular basis. In the midst of project implementation, a car bomb exploded, leading to the temporary suspension of all activities as a safety precaution.

Once resumed, 558 displaced families (2960 persons) in six sites received hygiene kits made up of items such as disinfectant, liquid soap, detergent, shampoo, face masks and hand sanitizers. Priority was given to female-headed households who lost the male providers, since such families are run by women who are in charge of their children and have almost no source of income.

The Molham Volunteering Team continues to make significant strides in helping prevent and mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19. We are proud of our part of their success and grateful to the CMF donors who helped support our efforts at closing the gaps.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.Arguably the most significant item included in the kits is a water purification solution, typically a water purification unit (filter). These water purification solutions provide a family with access to clean and safe water for up to one year.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

Improved Hygiene in and around Hopital Albert Schweitzer, Haiti (Project Completed)

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As part of a special Close the Gaps initiative to help prevent, limit, and stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, in 2020 the Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF) provided support to the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) to improve hygiene initiatives in Haiti’s Lower Artibonite Valley.

Designated a COVID-19 treatment site by the Haitian Ministry of Health, the hospitals’ Emergency Response Plan included initiatives within the hospital as well as outside of the hospital to stem the spread of the virus within the local catchment area.

Read more on the project outcomes Hôpital Albert Schweitzer.

Thank you and Happy New Year

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We’d like to thank all of our donors, volunteers and partners for your support and take the opportunity to wish all of you a happier, healthier and better New Year.

As with all year ends, this is a time for reflection for all of us. This time last year, none of us could have predicted how much our world would change. There is no doubt 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19. However, there have been many highlights for us at CMF to remember as well.

New Leadership

Towards the start of the year we welcomed Dusanka Pavlica to our team, first as Acting President and CEO before she took on the role permanently. Ms. Pavlica has been a senior executive in the International Development sector for over 12 years, before having worked in the private sector raising funds for a variety of charities for over a decade previously.

We also welcomed four new Directors. Yipeng Ge is a resident physician in Public Health and Preventive Medicine (including family medicine) in Ottawa. He is also an elected PARO (Professional Association of Residents of Ontario) General Council representative from Ottawa and sits on the CFPC SoR (College of Family Physicians of Canada Section of Residents) as an elected PGY1 representative and as Chair-Elect. Tom Magyarody is the principal of Magyarody Strategy and Governance Consulting and is currently a Director of Blue Pier Pension Administration Inc as well as a member of the Board of Governors for the Ontario Medical Foundation and Vice Commodore at the Etobicoke Yacht Club. Kevin O’Brien has a career that spans 40 years in international cooperation, community development and humanitarian aid, with both domestic and international civil society organizations. Wendy Zhang is in her third year of her medical degree at the University of Toronto. Wendy began her career in ALS research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute while also teaching high school academic and university level science and math. To learn more about these and all of our Directors, you can visit our website https://medicalfoundation.ca/en/.

Successes and milestones in 2020

We continued to act as a conduit to help our donors achieve their own personal, charitable and philanthropic goals, and together we granted more than $1,500,000 to support charitable programs and projects both in Canada and the developing world.

We are also proud to have launched our own COVID-19 response programming by forging new partnerships to help strengthen the prevention and control of infection in communities which may not have access to knowledge or resources without support. We are also proud to have launched our own COVID-19 response programming by forging new partnerships to help strengthen the prevention and control of infection in communities that may not have access to knowledge or resources without support. Partnerships included working with Soap for Hope to deliver personal hygiene products to vulnerable people and those living in remote communities may have trouble obtaining these products in BC. We are also working with 3D4MD Inc, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide regulatory-compliant, 3D printable healthcare supplies to remote communities. The proper use of face shields is an overlooked and neglected topic in COVID-19 prevention. Without safe, reusable personal protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers will be forced to continue to reuse sub-standard, untested face shields made of cheap, low-grade plastic with a limited lifespan. The Decontamination Kit for the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield uses an environmentally safe, non-toxic, rapid action (1 minute), single-agent cleaner and COVID-19 disinfectant authorized by Health Canada. The Canadian Medical Foundation has committed to support 3D4MD in obtaining regulatory standards certification testing by an accredited, independent laboratory to demonstrate that the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield can be properly cleaned and disinfected with the 3D4MD Face Shield Decontamination Kit in accordance with Health Canada regulatory standards.

Globally healthcare workers have emerged as a vulnerable population group during COVID-19. To support healthcare workers in Haiti as they try to manage the spread of COVID-19 in their hospitals, CMF is partnering with friends of the Hopital Albert Schweitzer and with Partners in Health to reduce at least some of the risks that healthcare workers face at work on a daily basis in Haiti. Through our grant, the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, the only 24/7 full-service hospital serving more than 350,000 people in the Lower Artibonite Valley was able to manufacture additional surface disinfectant, which is 2.5 times more effective at sanitizing/inactivating pathogens than chlorine/bleach, and supply it to other hospitals and health centers. And with our partnership with Partners in Health Canada, we are able to support the University Hospital of Mirebalais, one of the main COVID-19 treatment centers and referral hospitals in the country and the largest teaching hospital in Haiti, through the construction of up to 15 permanent handwashing stations and 15 toilets in areas where
COVID-19 patients are treated.

Looking forward: 2021 and beyond

There is much more to come next year as we continue to work with our donors and partners, and serve the healthcare community.

Thank you all and we look forward to the great things we can continue to accomplish together.

Honouring the Contributions of Retired Trustees

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At CMF, our trustees are the backbone of our organization. We’d like to take the opportunity to honour the contributions of two Trustees who played a vital role at shaping CMF but have retired from their leadership roles.

Dr. Hugh Scully, BA, MD, MSc, FRSC[C], FACS

Having joined the Canadian Medical Foundation in 2013, Dr. Scully retired from his role as Chair of the Board this year but his contributions to CMF will remain, as will his contributions as leader and innovator in improving the health of education of individuals not just in Canada but around the world. At CMF, Dr. Scully was also chair of the CMF’s multi-million dollar fundraising effort to raise support for physician health and wellness: The Every Physician Campaign.

In addition to his leadership role at the CMF, Dr. Scully served on the Board of Partners in Health Canada and Weed MD Inc. He served on the Board of Directors at the Canadian Medical Association as President, chair of the Council on Health Policy and Economics and chair of the Past Officers Committee. At the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, which represents all cardiac specialists in Canada, he served as president, as well as having served as president of the Ontario Medical Association Dr. Scully was on the council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, representing the surgeons of Ontario and as chair of the specialty physician workforce committee. He was the founding president of the Professional Association of Interns and Residents of Ontario (PAIRO) and on the international stage, he has represented Canada on the council of the World Medical Association, where he chaired the committee that developed a policy on ethical international recruitment of physicians, later adopted by the WMA, the World Health Organization (WHO), and many countries.

Dr. Scully was involved for more than five decades in the world of motorsports, where he still currently serves as chair of the board of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF). Dr. Scully served as president of the International Council of Motorsport Sciences. He is a founding Fellow (only Canadian) of the FIA (World) Institute for Motor Sport Safety, based in Paris, was the Medical Director of the Canadian F1 Race at Mosport Park, chair of the medical and safety committee at the Toronto Indy for 34 years and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2000.

This type of juggling of leadership roles throughout his career started early for Dr. Scully, since serving as president of his high school class at the International School of Geneva in Switzerland. Dr. Scully later went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology & Chemistry (1961), MD, CM (1965), and MSc (neuroanatomy and physiology, 1967) from Queen’s University. He trained in General Surgery (FRCSC 1971) at the University of Toronto and Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery (FRCSC 1974) at the U of T and Harvard University (Massachusetts General Hospital).

During his time as staff heart surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, he completed between eight or nine thousand open heart surgeries. With his passion for health policy management and health education, Dr. Scully was also a professor of surgery went on to become a professor of health policy management and evaluation (HPME) at the University of Toronto, as well as honorary consultant surgeon at University Health Network (UHN) – Toronto General Hospital’s division of cardiac surgery.

Dr. Scully has produced more than 300 peer-reviewed articles, abstracts, book chapters and invited presentations on cardiac surgery, health policy and leadership.

Mr. Jean Schnob

Joining the CMF board in 2012, Mr. Schnob retired from his role as Treasurer and chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee this year.

Mr. Schnob is a versatile, creative and well-rounded business executive who is cognizant that successful tax planning must emanate from an understanding of the economics of a transaction and with sensitivity to the drivers of business arrangements. Mr. Schnob’s financial leadership was critical in helping transition CMF after moving out from the umbrella of the Canadian Medical Association in 2016.

Mr. Schnob is a tax partner and managing partner of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in the Outaouais region with over twenty-five years of experience specializing in assurance, taxation and advisory services.

Mr. Schnob has a broad professional background, including technical subject instruction and speaking appearances. He has also participated in the tabling of a variety of reports and analyses on behalf of provincial public accounting institutes and regulatory bodies.

 

Reducing The Transmission of COVID-19 at University Hospital of Mirebalais

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Haiti – a country already facing widespread poverty, political instability, weak infrastructure and extreme vulnerability to natural disasters – was ill-equipped to deal with the outbreak of yet another deadly disease. A deadly cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake led to the death of nearly 10,000 people. Haiti started 2020 by finally having reached a milestone of one full year free from any new cases of the deadly waterborne disease, just as COVID-19 was starting to spread globally.

With 35 percent of Haitians lacking basic drinking water services and two-thirds with limited or no sanitation services, CMF is working with partners to strengthen the health system’s ability to adapt and respond to COVID-19.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Partners In Health Canada (PIHC) at the University Hospital of Mirebalais. CMF and PIHC will be supporting the hospital through the construction of up to 15 permanent handwashing stations and 15 toilets in areas where COVID-19 patients are treated in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. Improved sanitation facilities in these areas will create a healthier hospital environment and reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission for both staff and patients.

University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM) in the Central Plateau, Haiti is one of the main COVID-19 treatment centers and referral hospitals in the country and is currently the largest teaching hospital in Haiti.

Research shows that well-positioned, easily accessible hand washing stations increase good hand hygiene practices and reduce healthcare-acquired infections (HAI). In addition, by increasing the number of toilets for patients and staff in COVID-19 areas of the hospital, there will be less wait time for individuals in the COVID-19 units. The improvements will also ensure that handwashing stations and toilets are still available when facilities are being cleaned and disinfected.

During this pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Working together as a global community, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

Helping prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers

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With the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped our world, the Canadian Medical Foundation’s priority focus is the prevention of infectious diseases through projects that address gaps in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) efforts.

A June 1, 2020, Lancet meta-analysis of 13 studies showed that wearing eye protection, like face shields, resulted in a 78% reduction in infection with COVID-19, SARS or MERS.  However, due to the global shortage of disposable face shields, many sub-standard face shield products are flooding the market, single-use face shields are being re-used off label, and face shields are not being properly decontaminated before re-use. This poses a health and safety risk to healthcare workers.

A sustainable solution is urgently needed.

The CDC’s September 15, 2020 guidance on reprocessing disposable face shields states to “carefully avoid the foam cushion and elastic strap as they may not be tolerant to disinfectants.” This means that the skin contacting foam cushion and elastic strap are not typically decontaminated before reuse.

Reusable face shields need to be fully decontaminated before reuse to ensure that the risk of infection is minimized, with a decontamination protocol that includes both cleaning and disinfection. No decontamination kits to properly clean and disinfect reusable face shields are currently marketed in Canada. The currently available decontamination protocols for reusable face shields often fail to include the cleaning step and usually recommend using toxic or flammable chemical disinfection agents.

Before a reusable face shield can be brought to market, the process for cleaning and disinfection must go through a complete and expensive validation process to prove that it is effective.  However, due to recent shortages, Health Canada has allowed – on a temporary basis – face shields to be exempt from validation testing.

Dr. Julielynn Wong is board-certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, public health and general preventive medicine, and is the founder of 3D4MD, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide regulatory-compliant, 3D printable healthcare supplies to remote communities.

3D4MD’s analysis has shown that none of the face shields marketed in Canada as “100% reusable” have undergone the necessary and costly quality standards testing by independent, accredited laboratories to validate that these devices can be properly cleaned, disinfected, and safely reused.

The 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield and Decontamination Kit has been designed to prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers in community and institutional settings. The Decontamination Kit for the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield uses an environmentally safe, non-toxic, rapid action (1 minute), single-agent cleaner and COVID-19 disinfectant authorized by Health Canada.

The Canadian Medical Foundation has committed to support Dr. Wong in obtaining regulatory standards certification testing by an accredited, independent laboratory to demonstrate that the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield can be properly cleaned and disinfected with the 3D4MD Face Shield Decontamination Kit in accordance with Health Canada regulatory standards.

The proper use of face shields is an overlooked and neglected topic in COVID-19 prevention. Without safe, reusable personal protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers will be forced to continue to reuse sub-standard, untested face shields made of cheap, low-grade plastic with a limited lifespan. This significantly increases their infection risk for COVID-19, exposes staff to toxic chemical disinfectants, utilizes more healthcare resources, raises healthcare delivery costs, and increases the amount of medical waste in landfills and oceans.

Working together, supporting each other, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round Two Grants – Stop the Hygiene Gaps in Syria

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As part of a special initiative to help prevent, limit, and stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, the Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF) has opened round two of our small grants program for eligible Canadian organizations working in Syria.
Syria is a country now in its 10th year of conflict, battling sanctions, economic turmoil, widespread instability, and a broken down healthcare system. According to the UNHCR more than 5.5 million refugees have sought shelter in neighbouring countries, while another 6 million internally displaced Syrians and other vulnerable groups remain in Syria. Most of them live in overcrowded camps with limited access to water and proper sanitation, making maintaining good hygiene impossible for most.
If you are a qualified Canadian donnee with a community driven initiative that will help bridge identified gaps that are currently impeding Syrian communities from strengthening their public health and healthcare response to COVID-19 (i.e. hygiene practices), go to our Grant page for more information on how to apply.
Let’s Stop the Gaps! We’re all in this together as a global community.
To learn more or apply click here: Grants

Global Handwashing Day

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Tippy Tap Training, Haiti

Global Handwashing Day is October 15th. The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, and the message about the importance of hand hygiene has never been more important than in 2020.

Handwashing is one of the most important ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 but it requires both knowledge and resources. Especially in times of pandemics, new cracks and holes in systems are magnified and more easily identified as gaps or barriers to infection prevention. Haiti, already the poorest country of the Western hemisphere, was chronically unprepared to deal with the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF) is working with partners in Haiti to help bridge identified gaps that are currently impeding communities from strengthening their public health and healthcare to adapt to COVID-19.

Designated as a COVID-19 treatment site by the Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP), the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in the Artibonite Valley activated its COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan, which includes providing sanitary solutions to offset the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the local community.

These solutions include teaching households in local communities how to build “tippy taps”, which are hand-washing devices made up of a container that is filled with water and tipped with a stick and rope tied to the container, enabling contact-free handwashing. CMF is supporting HAS with the installation of Tippy Tap stations as well as community handwashing stations which will impact and service over 20,000 people in the local region.

Working together, supporting each other, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.