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Yellowknife physicians vie for presidency
of national medical organization

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - It will be the first time a physician from the NWT Medical Association will hold the position of president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association, and two Yellowknife doctors are vying for the job.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dr. Anna Reid, pictured here earlier this month, is one of two Yellowknife doctors in the running for the position of president of the Canadian Medical Association. - NNSL file photo

With more than 50 years in medicine between them, both in Yellowknife and in smaller communities, Dr. David King and Dr. Anna Reid are in the running for the position. After being open for six weeks, voting by members of the NWT Medical Association ends on Thursday, Feb. 24, but the nominee does not officially take on the position until the CMA's annual conference in St. John's, NL, this August.

The presidency of the national association rotates around the different provinces and territories based on population. The Yukon had the presidency once in 1998, but more often the position falls in provinces such as Ontario, with a medical association population of around 29,000. The NWT Medical Association has 60 members.

The NWT offers a different perspective on some medical issues, said Reid.

"The issues are similar but some are quite unique," said Reid, whose two-year term position as president of the NWT Medical Association came to an end earlier this month.

"Aboriginal health outcomes are by far the worst in the country for many, many diseases, mental health, addictions, those sorts of things and so I think it will be good to have a voice that really highlights those issues in a way that hasn't been highlighted before."

Reid said she sees there are a number of problems in the health care system that cannot be fixed through individual patient interactions and must be dealt with on a national level. Both Reid and King are eager to be at the table to tackle the deficiencies in the medical system.

"Absolutely I want to be a part of the discussion that informs the difficult decisions that are to be made," said King, who has held a seat on the CMA board's executive committee in the past.

"I'm keenly interested on the issues that are on the table. Having been practising for 30 years, our health care system - although touted to be one of the best in the world - has some weaknesses and some big issues and challenges facing it that need to be addressed," he said. Some national issues he sees are access to care, funding sustainability and the equitable access to medical services.

The position asks for a three-year commitment - one year served as president-elect, one year as president and then a year as past president.

As well, the Canadian Health Accord is due to expire in 2014, giving the successful candidate a seat at the table when the federal-provincial-territorial health care accord - a 10-year agreement - comes up for resigning.

"That's the biggie that the federal and provincial and territorial health ministers sign, with respect to funding agreements," said King.

Reid said the CMA is attempting to communicate with politicians about how to change aspects of the health care system.

"We're interested in lobbying for more long-term care, community care initiatives," said Reid.

He said the system right now is very focused on hospitals rather than the whole continuum of care, which extends past the patient's hospital stay.

"It's actually a really important time in the next two or three years, politically - trying to influence the politicians on how and where they put their money," said Reid.

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