Learning from SARS: Renewal of Public Health in Canada   [open pdf - 1MB]

The National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health was established in early May 2003 in the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [SARS]. The Committee's mandate was to provide a "third party assessment of current public health efforts and lessons learned for ongoing and future infectious disease control." The committee was asked to build on current public health interventions, and to foster and encourage collaboration among jurisdictions, professionals, and institutions. They were urged to work towards integration of all aspects of the containment of SARS (epidemiology, management, communication, and international coordination). The outbreak of SARS in the Greater Toronto Area was contained during the committee's mandate, as expected. Therefore, the committee extended this integrative approach to their analysis, and recommendations regarding emerging infectious diseases and public health in general. Most of this report deals with two major elements of the committee's mandate: provision of a short-term assessment of lessons learned from current public health interventions to contain SARS, and advice regarding issues for necessary longer-term action regarding infectious disease control and prevention. The committee learned very rapidly that Canada's ability to fight an outbreak such as SARS was tied more closely to the specific strengths of their public health system than to the general capacity of the committee's publicly-funded personal health services system. The committee's analysis and recommendations accordingly set out a plan for a comprehensive renewal of both the public health system in general, and the nation's capacity to detect, prevent, understand, and manage outbreaks of significant infectious diseases.

Report Number:
Publication no.1210
Copyright © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2003
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Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/index.html
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