Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, updated the Board on:
Opioids: Public Health has taken on the role of monitoring local opioid-related events by analyzing data from police, hospitals, EMS, outreach programs and shelters so community partners can allocate resources and respond in an informed way. At the same time, Public Health will make Naloxone available to key community partners so it can be available through outreach programs in the community.
New dental services: A new Public Health dental clinic will open in 2018 and enhance services to residents under 17 years of age whose families can’t afford insurance and qualify under the Health Smiles Ontario program.
Student immunizations: Provincial legislation requires all students to be fully immunized and have their records on file with Public Health. Student attending a public or private school have had their records accessed by Public Health and notifications will go out in December and January to any student with incomplete vaccine records. Failure to update records will result in suspension. About 7000 local students are expected to be contacted by Public Health. Each year the number of students fully vaccinated increases and local student bodies have higher vaccinations rates than the average in Ontario.
Promoting socially and emotionally healthy children: Public Health interacts with parents throughout the preconception, prenatal, postpartum and early childhood periods. Parents play a key role in creating the stable and supportive environments that promote the social and emotional development of young children. Research shows that exposure to toxic stress can disrupt this development and lead to negative health outcomes in adulthood including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. In the first few years of life the developing brain is forming more than a million new neural connections a second. All of the experiences a child has during this time, both positive and negative, contribute toward shaping brain development. Healthy social and emotional development can be fostered by mitigating and preventing adverse childhood experiences, and promoting resilience in children. To improve child development outcomes and reduce the chronic disease burden on the healthcare system, Public Health will work with parents and community partners to modify behaviours using proven methods that can adjust the life trajectory of the next generation. The Promoting the Healthy Social and Emotional Development of Children report presented at the December Board of Health meeting has more information.