The feds and provinces earn failing grades in Skin Deep: A Report Card on Access to Dermatological Care and Treatment in Canada

The basic needs of Canadians with skin diseases are not being met

OTTAWA, Jan. 25, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA) today released Skin Deep: A Report Card on Access to Dermatological Care and Treatment in Canada, an evaluation of patients' access to dermatologic care and treatment.  Its purpose is to provide policy-makers with facts necessary to make better decisions for improving access to effective care for millions of Canadians.

"This report card reveals what skin patients already know. Treatment wait times are unacceptably long due to a severe shortage of dermatologists, and access to important medications that can change lives is unreasonably restricted," said Allan Stordy, CSPA Board Chair. "It is imperative that governments and stakeholders take action now to meet the current and future demands for dermatological care."

In seven Canadian provinces, the number of full-time dermatologists is so inadequate that some doctors are serving over a population of over 250,000. Notably, this shortage of dermatologists will become a greater threat to skin patients and create more of a burden on Canada's health care system as one in five of all dermatologists in Canada are already over the age of 65.

Skin Deep outlines a critical, systemic lack of access to common skin treatments including phototherapy and surgery for skin cancers.  It also highlights drugs needed by skin patients are not available to them through government formularies. The report indicates patients with rare skin diseases have virtually no access to much needed medications because either medications for rare diseases aren't covered at all or in the few provinces which have access programs for rare diseases skin ailments have been excluded from these essential programs.

Clinical experts have identified more than 3,000 types of skin disorders. It is estimated that over half of the Canadian population suffers from a skin condition. From psoriasis through to melanoma, patients are being denied access to critical medications and treatments. The federal government and all of the provinces received failing grades in almost all of the categories examined in the report.

Highlights from the 2011 National Report:

  • Psoriasis affects approximately one in 50 Canadians, and its treatment costs more than $30 million annually.
  • Atopic eczema affects up to one in five children and is estimated to cost the Canadian economy $1.4 billion each year.
  • Melanoma can progress rapidly.  It is estimated there will be 5,500 new cases of melanoma and 950 deaths this year.
  • Viral skin diseases such as herpes are estimated to affect two-thirds of the Canadian population with an economic cost of over $40 million annually.

The report makes recommendations for improving the quality of life for skin patients, such as including patients with rare skin diseases in access programs, funding of all medications that could positively affect lives - especially newer, highly-effective treatments, and approaches for reducing wait times across the country.

"Skin diseases are rarely 'skin deep' and usually profoundly affect the lives of the millions of Canadians who suffer with them," said Christine Janus, Executive Director at CSPA.  "The psycho-social impact of these diseases is overwhelming, causing many patients to give up and withdraw from society.  The mistaken belief that skin conditions are neither serious nor life-threatening must be changed to reflect the reality that they can seriously affect the quality of life of patients, can predispose patients to other debilitating and serious conditions like heart disease and some skin diseases, particularly melanoma and can be fatal."

The findings in Skin Deep will serve as a foundation for skin patient advocacy in Canada against which Canadians will be able to track improvement to patients' access to effective care and treatment for skin diseases. Canadians are encouraged to discuss with decision-makers how policy improvements help Canadian skin patients and their families. "Lives will be saved and quality of life for many will be improved, if changes can be made" added Christine Janus.

To view the full Report and to find out how this Report Card can make a difference in your life and the lives of your loved ones, visit www.canadianskin.ca/reportcard.

Images from Skin Deep, including photos of spokespeople Allan Stordy and Christine Janus, can be found at http://bit.ly/skinpatientalliance.

Image with caption: "Canadian Skin Patient Alliance's "Report Card at a Glance" infographic (CNW Group/Canadian Skin Patient Alliance)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120125_C6573_PHOTO_EN_9172.jpg

Audio with caption: "Audio: Christine Janus, Executive Director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/01/25/20120125_C6573_AUDIO_EN_9173.mp3

Audio with caption: "Audio: Allan Stordy, Board Chair of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/01/25/20120125_C6573_AUDIO_EN_9175.mp3

SOURCE Canadian Skin Patient Alliance

For further information:

For more information such as provincial data or to book an interview with Christine Janus, CSPA official spokesperson, or to speak to a regional CSPA spokesperson please contact:

Carrie Croft, Thornley Fallis Communications
Office: 613-231-3355 ext. 227
Mobile: 613-866-2564
Email: croft@thornleyfallis.ca

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Canadian Skin Patient Alliance

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