Canada - Minister of Health Tables in Parliament a Framework on Palliative Care in Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window.
On December 4, 2018, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, tabled in Parliament a Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. The Framework will help support improved access to palliative care by providing a useful reference point for governments, stakeholders, caregivers and communities to help identify common directions and opportunities, address gaps, and share best practices. 

Canada - Substance use is costing six Canadian provinces over $1 billion each This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has released a study examining costs associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and opioids. In six provinces — Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia — the cost of substance use in 2014 surpassed $1 billion dollars. Alcohol and tobacco were the most used substances.

New Zealand - New primary care initiatives set to significantly improve access to primary care services This hyperlink will open in a new window.
On December 1, 2018, New Zealand introduced changes to improve access to primary care services, implementing measures such as low-cost general practice visits for the economically disadvantaged and subsidized prescriptions for children. The initiatives will improve health equity by reducing financial barriers that have stopped people visiting a doctor.

UK - A series of practical resources to support health and social care staff to reduce delayed transfers of care This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The National Health Service (NHS) has issued five guides for staff on practical ways to reduce delays in transfers of care during Britain's winter flu season and avoid adverse outcomes for patients staying in hospital longer than required. The guides cover staff leadership, early discharge, home care, technology use, and immunization against the flu.

International - Countries that invest in and develop their nursing and midwifery workforce can achieve a rapid, cost-effective expansion of high-quality UHC This hyperlink will open in a new window.
A report from the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has found that mid- and low-income countries that are developing nursing and midwifery workforces are better placed to achieve a rapid, cost-effective expansion of high-quality universal healthcare (UHC). The report suggests that governments focus on the expansion of the nursing sector as a way to achieve UHC.

Upcoming Events

Spain - WHO Barcelona course on health financing for universal health coverage 2019
Addressing the overarching theme of universal health coverage, the course will review policy instruments to improve health system performance through better health-financing policy. Course modules include coordinating reform, raising revenues, pooling health revenues, purchasing, and designing a benefit package. The course takes place in Barcelona, from March 18 to 22, 2019. The deadline for applications is January 16, 2019.

Canada - 10th International Shared Decision Making Conference This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This year, the theme of the conference is Patient-Oriented Shared Decision-Making Research. Taking place from July 7 to 10, 2019, in Québec City, the conference offers a chance to discuss best strategies for involving patients in shared decision-making research so that it better reflects their knowledge, priorities and needs. The deadline to to submit original abstracts in the field of shared decision making is January 21, 2019.

Reports and Issue Portfolios

Canada - Waiting Your Turn. Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2018 Report This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This report by the Fraser Institute on wait times across Canada for specialist visits and diagnostic and surgical procedures finds considerable variation among the 10 provinces. Saskatchewan reports the shortest total waits (15.4 weeks), while New Brunswick reports the longest (45.1 weeks). The proportion of patients waiting for treatment varies from a low of 1.7% in Quebec to a high of 6.2% in Nova Scotia.

Europe - The European Semester 2018 from a health equity perspective This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The European Semester cycle process is designed to help steer European Union (EU) Member State government fiscal policies. It is increasingly being used to review social protection systems funded through public budgets. This report analyzes recommendations of the 2018 edition from a health equity perspective. It explains how the process can support work on key determinants of health, health inequalities, and assuring care for vulnerable groups.

Italy - Using a GIS to support the spatial reorganization of outpatient care services delivery in Italy This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This paper shows how a geographical information system (GIS) can support the reorganization of care service delivery by computing and analyzing spatial access to outpatient services relative to demand. The research focuses on Tuscany, an Italian region currently reorganizing its patient care systems. Results from three case studies revealed municipalities where health policymakers could use GIS data to consider new spatial locations, facility closures, or mergers of services.

International - Health at a Glance: Asia/Pacific 2018. Measuring Progress towards Universal Health Coverage This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Looking at health in the world's Asia-Pacific region, this handbook presents indicators of health status, healthcare resources and quality of care across 27 countries. It provides a series of dashboards to compare performance between countries, along with a thematic analysis of health inequalities. Major findings are analyzed and an annex provides additional information on demographic contexts and limitations in data comparability.

International - Effective coverage as a new approach to health system performance assessment: a scoping review This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The WHO introduced the concept of effective coverage as a health system output indicator for performance assessment. This review by Iranian researchers finds that interventions monitored by effective coverage tend to be siloed within child health and obstetrics. It calls for an increased focus on methodology and definitions of measures to better conceptualize and assess connections between coverage rates and effectiveness.

International - PLOS Medicine’s Special Issue on Machine Learning in Health and Biomedicine This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Modern statistical modelling, or machine learning, has been presented as a transformative force for human health. However, comparisons to classical analyses of clinical data indicate that restraint may yet be warranted. This special issue of PLOS Medicine features research that applies machine-learning methods to health and biomedicine. The 37 articles are accompanied by expert editorial commentary on the application, impact, and ethics of these approaches.

International - The economics of patient safety in primary and ambulatory care. Flying blind This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This paper examines safety lapses in primary and ambulatory care, finding that, internationally, four out of 10 patients experience safety issues in these settings. The paper estimates the direct costs of safety lapses in primary and ambulatory care to be around 2.5% of total global health expenditure. Safety lapses resulting in hospitalizations account for 6% of total annual hospital bed days worldwide.