Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

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

January 25, 2012

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

OTTAWA, Jan. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – 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

“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.

SOURCE Canadian Skin Patient Alliance

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: PR Newswire