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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CBC's "The National" Takes on Obesity Surgery

So while I was cruising the Tasman Sea, CBC TV’s “The National” aired a report on the state of obesity surgery in Canada.

The story is about how, despite its proven safety and benefits, obesity surgery in Canada is hard to come by.

One patient featured in the report decided to go to India for a gastric bypass rather than waiting in Ontario.

A complete transcript of my take on this issue, bits of which can be seen in the CBC broadcast, can be read by clicking here.

Incidentally, the CBC site contains a neat little interactive tool that provides information on the state of obesity surgery in each province.

For e.g. it reveals that while the public system on Prince Edward Island pays for both gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding (minus the cost of the tubing), no hospital on the island performs these procedures.

On the other hand, while Quebec performs the greatest number of operations, the waiting lists are also the longest in this province.

The North West Territories does not consider obesity surgery an insured service and Nunavut will not send patients South for obesity surgery, as it does not have the resources to provide the complex follow-up needed after surgery.

The main article on the CBC website also has other information on obesity surgery that may be of interest to patients and practitioners alike.

I have little doubt that this topic is going to attract much more attention from the media in the future – as I have blogged before: done in the right patients in the right setting with the right follow up, the impact of obesity surgery on the health and quality of life of patients affected by severe obesity can be nothing short of spectacular.

The key, however, lies in selecting the right patients and ensuring proper life-long follow-up - simply paying for surgery will not be enough.


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