Tag Archives: Local News

Worth Sharing: Out in the cold: What the TB crisis in Nunavut reveals about Canada

There is no clearer evidence of the maldistribution of wealth and of social services in Canada to the detriment of Indigenous people than the tuberculosis epidemic under way in the Arctic.

Last week, 14-year-old Gussie Bennett, from Nain, Labrador, died of tuberculosis. Nain’s last serious outbreak of TB was just in 2015. In January, 15-year-old Ileen Kooneeliusie, from Qikiqtarjuak, on Baffin Island, died. The screening program undertaken in the weeks following revealed 10 per cent of the population of Qikiqtarjuak to be infected. Across Nunavut, 17 of the 25 communities have cases of tuberculosis. But the largest of these outbreaks so far is the one in Arviat.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-out-in-the-cold-what-the-tb-crisis-in-nunavut-reveals-about-canada/

Calgary Eyeopener Interview: Getting Ready to Trek the Northwest Passage

 You can listen to the podcast on the Calgary Eyeopener’s website.


The 8-minute interview starts at the 16 minute mark (16:00 – 24:00).

Calgary Eyeopener Episode for March 16, 2018

Telus Storyhive: How a Cochrane Doctor is Saving Lives Overseas

Dr. William Hanlon goes to extremes to bring sustainable healthcare to some of the most remote regions on the planet.

Reaching the South Pole , Cochrane Times, Date: Jan 2010

Reaching the South Pole
Posted By Brad Herron of The Cochrane Times


Reaching the South PoleThree small souls at the pole.

By Brad Herron

On. Jan. 2, a Cochrane doctor joined his childhood heroes like Ernest Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen as explorers of Antarctica.

For 47 days, Bill Hanlon braved temperatures that reached below -50 C and bitter winds to raise awareness for remote-area medicine.

With two other men — including one from China who became the first Chinese man to ski to the pole — Hanlon skied across Antarctica, guided only by a compass, to conquer a life goal and promote Basic Health International, his foundation.

And while he has accomplished many other feats, including climbing Mt. Everest in 2007 while serving as the expedition’s doctor, travelling across the frozen landscape provided unique challenges not seen in any other locale.

On days when the wind picked up, Hanlon said travel became something akin to being a ping pong ball inside a lottery machine; directionless and, at time, nearly lost.

“One day I was navigating where I couldn’t see my skies,” Hanlon said. “It can be nauseating at times, because when you are navigating in a complete white-out like that it is hard to know what’s what.”

While the trip was going to be a physical struggle from the beginning without added challenges, Hanlon received frostbite on his right thumb during the seventh day of the trek, something he now blames on not heating his core to an adequate temperature before leaving camp. Luckily, Hanlon packed along medication for just this reason, medicine he credits for “saving” his thumb. But enough though his thumb was saved, it made daily tasks difficult for the right-handed man and even two weeks later, the blackened thumb is still sensitive to temperature.

Putting pain aside — something each of the man did, as Hanlon said his fellow travelers often received large blisters on their feet — the crew travelled about 26 to 28 kilometres per day, extending their skiing to 42 kilometres one day and staying in camp due to weather another.

In constant sunlight, the men rose each morning at 6 a.m. and were on their skis by 8 a.m., travelling into the evening hours before pitching camp and starting the experience over.

“When your body is wanting to stop or feels that it is time to stop, you have to ignore those vibes and get going. It’s like having a Monday morning experience every day for 50 days,” Hanlon said.

Just maintaining a steady body weight is an arduous task, Hanlon explained. During the trip, Hanlon increased his diet to 6,500 calories per day, taking in as much high-calorie food as his 55-year-old body could handle, even mixing olive oil and large globs of butter into his oatmeal during breakfast.


“One of the few times in life when you can eat large quantities of chocolate, carbohydrates and fat without feeling guilty about it,” Hanlon chuckled, adding he lost four pounds during the trip, but quickly added them back by dining on Chilean steak and drinking a few celebratory beers.

After more than a month-and-a-half of travel, the trio spotted the South Pole — with consists of a ceremonial pole as well as a research station — nine km from where they had planned to camp. Feeling energized, they continued on and finished their journey.

Hanlon said it was a “very strange feeling” arriving at the pole, as members of the research team came outside to meet the men.

“Having travelled, just the three of us for 47 days without any animals or anything, it was very strange. The toughest part was adapting to the change,” he said,

Within two days, and after letting the icicles from this beard thaw, Hanlon and the others were on a plane to the edge of the continent. From there, they set out on a Russian aircraft that brought them back to Chile and civilization.

From his doctor’s office in Cochrane, Hanlon said the trip taught him new lessons in “teamwork and endurance,” lessons he believes he can use in his daily life and potentially pass on to others.

“One of the nice things I really love about expeditions is it really pares down the extra stuff in life and you are down to basics, like survival, food, shelter and a stove to melt snow,” Hanlon said.


Other News: Reaching new heights Cochrane Times, Date: Oct. 29, 2009

Reaching new heights
Cochrane Times,
Date: Oct. 29, 2009




Man Conquers 7 Peaks (Oct. 2009)

8th October 2009, 3:13pm

COCHRANE – Medicine may be his calling, but a local doctor has reached a lifelong goal of climbing the highest mountain on every continent in the world.
Earlier this month Dr. Bill Hanlon, a Cochrane-based family doctor, completed his seven-summit project after 20 years.
Hanlon and three friends reached the 4,884-m summit of the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia on Oct. 16.
It snowed the entire climb, causing poor visibility and freezing up his rope grips. Hanlon rested at the summit for only 20 minutes before climbing back down.
“It was just really nice to get there,” said Hanlon, 55. “A lot of time accidents happen more often on the way down from a mountain, so one couldn’t relax too much.”
This was Hanlon’s second attempt climbing the mountain. Last year he got caught in a mudslide and broke four ribs before turning around.
“I think I learned more from the disappointment of not achieving goals because it does make one more humble,” said Hanlon.
As Hanlon did more international mountaineering he saw the medical needs of the people he met living in remote villages. These people inspired him to start Basic Health International Foundation, a not-for-profit group providing medical

care to those in the isolated mountain communities of Tibet, Mongolia, India, Ethiopia, Peru and Indonesia.

Other News: Hanlon laments completion of Chinese highway, Cochrane Times, Date: 2008-04-23

Hanlon laments completion of Chinese highway

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2008-04-23

Other News: No denying – 2007 was an eventful year Cochrane Times, Cochrane Times, Date: 2008-01-02

No denying – 2007 was an eventful year Cochrane Times

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2008-01-02

Other News: Everest insights enjoyed, Cochrane Times, Date: 2007-10-03

Everest insights enjoyed

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2007-10-03

Other News: Hanlon bringing Everest to Cochranites, Cochrane Times, Date: 2007-09-12

Hanlon bringing Everest to Cochranites

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2007-09-12

Other News: Hanlon reaches the top of the world, Cochrane Times, Date: 2007-05-30

Hanlon reaches the top of the world

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2007-05-30

Other News: Hanlon overcomes grief and tragedy to conquer Everest, Cochrane Times, Date: 2007-06-06

Hanlon overcomes grief and tragedy to conquer Everest

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2007-06-06

Other News: Cochrane doc first in Ladakh, Cochrane Times, Date: 2004-11-17

Cochrane doc first in Ladakh

Cochrane Times,

Date: 2004-11-17

Cochrane doctor asks for support

By Samara Cygman

Are your dresser drawers so clogged, you get a Superman-sized workout just trying to open them, only to have them explode all over the room when you do?

Or, has your child long since graduated up through the ranks of Cochrane Minor Soccer and still has scores of jerseys piling up in his or her room?

If this accurately describes you or one of your children, there is a message for you floating around the community.

Dr. William Hanlon, physician at the Cochrane medical clinic, is planning to embark on yet another medical mission halfway across the world, and wants to bring a bit of Cochrane along with him.

“It’s a way of bridging communities between Cochrane and some of these developing world communities,” he said.

Hanlon is leaving for Ethiopia in October and because mailing is so expensive, he will personally deliver old soccer jerseys to the children in the small communities, with hopes to build their self-confidence and level of physical activity.

“It’s a lot cheaper for me to bring them over there than to mail them,” he said. “There will be a lot of happy Ethiopians. Most of these kids don’t have soccer gear.”

He plans to deliver the jerseys to an orphanage for children whose parents have died from the AIDS virus. “These kids are without parents in an orphanage that doesn’t have a lot of facilities or resources,” he said. “It’s an area that’s really big into soccer, so we can tap into something they really like to do.”

He remembers three years ago when he brought some equipment to Honduras for children in an orphanage “They formed their own team there and seemed to have really improved their soccer skills,” said Han lon. “That was the idea, to give the kids the opportunity to build up their self-esteem and that sense of community and support for each other.”

This is the fourth year Hanlon has brought jerseys or other sports equipment to developing countries and he is astounded at the level of generosity found within the town.

“It’s amazing the response. People have been really great. It’s being used for a good cause and the kids love them over there,” said Hanlon.

Lea Norris, who is volunteering as the communications liaison for Cochrane Minor Soccer, said when Hanlon contacted her with this proposal, she was excited to help out.

“There is over 1,000 kids who play soccer within Cochrane Minor Soccer, so even if we had 20 per cent of them return jerseys, that would be pretty good,” she said, adding she’s been spreading the word around town. “I’m excited for the opportunity to put these jerseys to use.”

Norris explained the Soccer Jersey Donation Program is voluntary, however, and those children who don’t want to part with their jerseys don’t have to.

“My son, he’s five, and he wants to wear his every day to go play in the playground, but there are older kids who I’m sure never wear them again,” she said.

Drop off your clean, unripped jerseys from any year to the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. up until Sept. 15.If you have any questions, e-mail registrar@932kick.com or call 932-KICK

Doctor reaches Tibetan Plateau

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2003/12/28; December 28, 2003.]

Wednesday 24 December
By Samara Cygman

A Cochrane doctor weathered altitudes of 14,000 feet, exposure to potentially fatal diseases and having to drink yak-butter tea for one month to deliver desperately-needed health care, vitamins and education to locals in one of the most isolated regions in the world – the Tibetan plateau.

Dr. Bill Hanlon, family physician at the Cochrane Medical Clinic, returned home Dec. 6 from his Tibet Child Nutrition and Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis project, where he and an American colleague, Dr. Nancy Harris, worked on improving the nutritional and general health status of the children of Tibet by introducing a western approach. They have a huge problem with nutrition, poor sanitation, poor hygiene, a lot of problems with infectious diseases, problems with Ricketts a lack of vitamin D and calcium so people get stunted in growth and a lot of developmental problems. We saw a lot of stunted children, well below their ideal weight and height, many with thin, discoloured hair, thin limbs and protuberant bellies, recounted Hanlon. Those are conditions we don’tt see much here anymore. We helped deliver visual charts with a balanced nutrition message, a hygiene message and ways to recognize symptoms of tuberculosis and treatment options. They even worked with a local musician to create a series of songs about hygiene and the importance of hand-washing and covering your mouth when you cough. By the hundreds, children filed past Hanlon, afflicted with illness ranging from inactive thyroid glands causing goiter in the neck, chronic diarrhea, pneumonia, measles and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was an area I was interested in. They have a lot of resistant tuberculosis to a lot of medicines we use, said Hanlon, adding a lack and improper use of medicines have resulted in the resistant strains of TB. But it is one of the most treatable infectious diseases in the world. Which is what he found about most of the illness he saw. Not only treatable illness, but entirely preventable illness, ran rampant through the population. One man had a stroke and I was asked to see him. He had a very high blood pressure and it was sad because it was totally preventable, said Hanlon, who worked with the 70-year old every morning to get his blood pressure down. He and his family are very gracious and kind, insisting I have some tea. Yak-butter tea is very much an acquired taste, he laughed, adding it was salty, and likening it to warm soup. Protecting himself against infectious diseases was a bit of a challenge. He had to get shots for rabies, diphtheria, tetanus, Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid.

Hanlon tries to go on this kind of vacation (as he jokingly called it) at least once a year, with all the funds coming out of his own pocket. I’ve always had an interest in this and it helps balance the life we have here with the rest of the world, he said. To help deal with the illness and disease Hanlon and Harris handed out multi-vitamins, nutritious food, medicine and information to almost everyone that came to see them. The impact of small intervention is huge. It can have a huge impact on people’s lives, said Hanlon, adding it was even more important than high-tech machines like MRIs.

His colleague, Harris, who has been living off and on in Tibet for 14 years, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine when she found out 60 per cent of the children she saw had Ricketts. To combat this disease, mainly caused by a vitamin and protein deficiency, Harris had a local plant, Droma, analyzed in the United States and found it worked as a high-protein supplement. It was ground up into flour and distributed amongst the families. The problem with people is they don’t have enough variety in their diets, said Hanlon, adding they mainly eat high carbohydrate, low protein diets that are also low in fruit and vegetables. But depending on the season, their access to fruit and vegetables is sporadic at times. To help the people on a more permanent basis, Hanlon was proud to announce his new federally-registered Basic Health International Foundation. The foundation aims to support public health and primary health care programs in high-need, remote locations and more specifically, high-altitude locations.

I love the mountains, so it s an area of interest, said Hanlon, adding the registered charity took almost a year to set up. This is just another stage in getting ongoing commitment to that area. His intent is to keep the foundation small to incur less administrative costs and accountable and self-sustaining by the population it serves.

A web site will be up and running in the new year. Tibetans are a wonderful group to be with. I very much enjoyed their humour, sense of compassion and spirit of giving, said Hanlon. At this festive time of taking trips to the mall and holiday parties, perhaps we can think a little more on those in greater need.

Cochrane Times
reprinted in Tibet Environmental Watch