While the politicians and the media may have moved onto other, seemingly sexier crisisis (ed. surely not sexier than cancer?), that doesn't mean the isotope crisis has gone away, or has even been solved by Lisa Raitt and the Conservatives.
Indeed, doctors are warning that the (Conservative-mishandled) isotope crisis could be worsened by the (Conservative-mishandled) H1N1 flu pandemic. Provinces and health authorities are facing increased costs due to both H1N1 and the isotope shortage. It's like two tales of Conservative incompetence fusing together into a big, ugly, bouncy blue ball of poor management.
From the Ottawa Citizen (can't find a link):
Canada's doctors say the ongoing medical isotope shortage "is not sustainable," especially while there is a flu pandemic eating up health-care resources.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
They are pushing the federal government to quickly come up with short-term solutions and to take a second look at its decision to get out of the isotope business.
Dr. Anne Doig, president of the Canadian Medical Association, told the House of Commons health committee Monday that the health-care system was "coping" with the shortage of isotopes, which are used in treating and diagnosing conditions including cancer and heart disease, but that the country's doctors were worried about the toll it was taking. "In particular, the resulting increased demand on resources -- both human and financial -- and especially now in the midst of a pandemic, is not sustainable," Doig said.
Dr. Jean-Luc Urbain, president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine, told the committee that doctors and technologists had been able to minimize the effects of the shortage through extraordinary efforts, but that it was having damaging and long-lasting consequences.
He said the enrolment of medical students in nuclear medicine was down, some specialists were heading for the U.S., and some technicians had lost their jobs.
Urbain was critical of decisions made by the Conservative government, including its cancellation of the MAPLE reactors and a $22-million grant given to McMaster University in Hamilton to upgrade an old reactor there.
He said the money should have gone to investigating how to get the MAPLE reactors up and running. The MAPLE reactors were built next to the NRU reactor, but encountered technical problems and have never been approved for use.