This month’s Board of Health meeting will cover a wide-variety of community health matters, and some regular business for the health unit. Looking forward to summer? You will get to hear about preparations for diseases spread by insects while the epidemics of hunger and food insecurity will also be discussed in a presentation from the Smart City’s office. This is what’s on the agenda for March’s meeting…
NOTE #1: This meeting will be available to watch online, but you will have to send a request to join the meeting via an online form that you can find here. Deadline to send in the request is Wednesday March 1 at 11 am.
NOTE #2: The meeting begins at 2 pm.
MOH Update(s)– Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer will deliver her verbal report on current matters facing Public Health.
PRESENTATION: Smart Cities Project Update -Public Health is one of the partners in the food insecurity projects out of the Our Food Future office, and for the last 10 months the two groups have been co-ordinating on the Food Security Action Plan for Guelph and Wellington. Out of that work, six priorities have emerged including the creation of a community food growing strategy, regenerative agriculture, the creation of an integrated funding strategy, and, obviously, building a circular food movement.
The board will also hear about the next steps to enact the action plan, which will require continued collaboration with local government and community partners, setting strategic priorities, integrating these plans with the work plans at the City of Guelph and Wellington County, and seeking dedicated resources to complete the project activities. This report is meant to give all parties a picture of what resources and support is needed to further Our Food Future objectives through public health.
Business Arising – The business this month is updated By-Law No. 1, which is the general bylaw for the operation of public health and the board. There are about two dozen changes in all and they’re mostly matters of clarity, or aligning things to current practices, recent legislative changes or Roberts’ Rules of Order. There are also some changes that will formally allow electronic participation in meetings, as well as some updated definitions.
Vector-Borne Disease Update: Ticks and Mosquitoes – You’re probably aware of public health’s annual mosquito monitoring efforts as a way of preventing the spread of West Nile Virus, and the results may speak for themselves with no more than two cases in any given year in the last 10 years. (It’s worth noting that there were five years with one case, and four years, including 2022, where there were no cases too.)
Lyme disease, and the ticks that spread it, are kind of a bigger problem though with 14 human cases in 2022, which is the highest since 2018. Perhaps this is reflective of the fact that while Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph was not in a risk area for Lyme disease in 2018, the southern most portion of the region now definitely is, and while that doesn’t include Guelph, the Royal City is definitely on the border. Plus, as the report says, “Black-Legged Ticks can still be found outside of the identified higher-risk areas.”
In conclusion, “Local surveillance, control, public education and prevention measures have proven to play a significant role in reducing the risk of vector-borne diseases within WDG communities.”
Vaccine Wastage for 2022 – In 2022, the wastage of all vaccines distributed by public health was 8.4 per cent or $481,191.48; that’s twice as much vaccine wastage when compared to 2021. According to the report, “The greatest risk for vaccine wastage is short-dated vaccine as well healthcare providers ordering excess quantities or stockpiling vaccine,” and last year the biggest reason for vaccine wastage was expiration. That was especially true in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, for which the wastage rate was almost 10.7 per cent.
WDGPH Annual Privacy Program Update – There were five reported privacy breaches at public health in 2022, and they might all be filed under the category of “accidents” including personal information being sent to the wrong person, or identifiable information being uploaded to the wrong database. The five incidents are a big dip from 2021 when there were 22, which is being attributed to “staff returning to familiar roles and reduced temporary contract staff following the pandemic response.”
WHY Survey Update – The WHY Survey stands for the Well-being Health and Youth Survey. It’s a questionnaire for students, parents and school staff covering grade 4 to 12 and their insights on physical activity, eating habits, screen time, bullying, time spent with family and friends, sense of safety, and school involvement, among other topics.
There was no board report, but you can see the results via links here on the public health website. Highlights include a decrease in the number of students who rate their mental health as good to excellent from 81.6 per cent in 2019 to 71.7 per cent in 2022, and an increase in the number of students struggling with eating issues from 1-in-7 to 1-in-4. On the bright side, substance abuse is down and so are instances of bullying.
Infectious Disease Spotlight: Mpox (formerly known as Monkeypox), Pertussis and Invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) Disease – Public Health has put together this report due to the public interest in the spread of these infections diseases in particular. In the case of Mpox, there have only been about six total cases in the region, and there have been no new cases since October. Pertussis, which is more commonly known as Whooping cough, has been making a comeback and there have been only three cases locally, but it’s worth noting that they were all in under-vaccinated children. As for Streptococcus there have been no cases locally.
Committee (Verbal) Report(s) – The only committee reports this month are from the Finance + Audit Committee, and there are three of them. First is the Risk Registry Report, which is literally a list of potential risks to public health and this year there are two items: Provincial re-organization of health and community services and change in provincial funding. The other two reports are the 2022 Fourth Quarter Finances and the Reserves and Refund Status as of December 31.
Correspondence -Nothing this month.