Health Research Foundation supports health system resilience in wake of COVID

Leah Geller
May 17, 2022

The pandemic taught us some tough lessons. It became clearer than ever that Canada’s universal health care system does not serve everyone equally. And if we want to be better prepared for the next public health crisis, we need to improve how our health system performs, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

In particular, Canada’s northern, rural and remote communities suffer from major health care inequities, such as limited infrastructure, an unstable workforce and a lack of resources. Dr. Brianne Wood, a scientist at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, is working to change that.

In 2021, Dr. Wood was selected unanimously by the Health Research Foundation (HRF) for their three-year, $450,000 Fellowship in Health Systems Resilience. The HRF is a Canadian non-profit organization created by the pharmaceutical industry body Innovative Medicines Canada to invest in health research at Canadian academic centres.

According to Dr. Wood, “This funding is absolutely critical to my research program, which is focused on building research capacity and skilled health professionals in our northern health system.”

Dr. Wood’s research will create a framework to measure progress in Northern Ontario health systems, and a research training program for local medical and graduate students to address the challenges most relevant to the region. It will also look at how Covid-19 has affected community health, answering population health questions developed in partnership with local organizations.

“I want to emphasize the importance of a collaborative approach to this research program,” explains Dr. Wood. “It is designed in a way that allows community leaders, health decision-makers, and clinicians to work together to build the knowledge we need.”

In 2020, HRF selected Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a researcher and pediatrician at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital, for a Research Chair in Pandemic Preparedness, worth $500,000 over three years.

“Over the last two years of the pandemic, we’ve experienced a lot of fault lines in our research and health care infrastructure,” says Dr. Murthy. “For example, our ability to rapidly learn and integrate Covid-19 data into clinical practice remains a challenge.”

One major issue is the lack of sharing of clinical data between provinces. Dr. Murthy is working to create a national platform for sharing data from patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory infections, like those found in Covid-19 patients.

“We’re trying to standardize our surveillance of these infections, so hospitals across the country can produce good quality data during a pandemic at a rate that is useful,” Dr. Murthy explains.

He is also working to remove cultural and operational barriers — such as the crushing bureaucratic processes involved — so clinician-researchers can generate and use data quickly and efficiently during public health emergencies.

“We need to evaluate whether or not our clinical interventions actually work,” adds Dr. Murthy. “We need clinical trials to be as integrated and embedded into clinical care as possible. Hopefully, next time around, we will have learned our lesson.”


Other News

Events For Leaders in
Science, Tech, Innovation, and Policy

Discuss and learn from those in the know at our virtual and in-person events.

See Upcoming Events

You have 1 free article remaining.
Don't miss out - start your free trial today.

Start your FREE trial    Already a member? Log in


By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.