Timeline marks province's history on health, related issues

October 29, 2013

SPHERU’s history project team is using new technology to tell an old story – the history of public health and health care in the province.

Recently, it launched the pilot of a new tool, a timeline that outlines many historical markers concerning health and related issues in Saskatchewan. Work on the timeline began in 2012, and it’s based on the data collection that supports SPHERU’s team grant project, The History of public health and health care in Saskatchewan: The origins and import of health inequities in Saskatchewan 1905-1985.

“The idea has been batted around for quite some time,” says Dr. Paul Hackett, the project lead.

SPHERU staff member Tara Todd was then able to find software that would support a site where information could be uploaded and made accessible to the public.

The format is also easy for users to understand, as people are familiar with the format. The timeline includes milestones of health and its social determinants, including the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, the opening of the Weyburn Mental Hospital in 1921, polio vaccinations in 1955 and the 1961 Hall Report on health care services.

The team sees it as an educational tool or resource, and they have the ability to set up multiple timelines for specific topics – for example, around data on infectious diseases or Dr. Gloria DeSantis’s work on community-based organizations, or Dr. Tom McIntosh’s work on policy.

“It’s a very useful tool that we can exploit,” Hackett says.

The goal, he adds, is to expand the site, as the team mines more health data from Saskatchewan’s past. “It’ll get much richer as we go,” Hackett adds.

The project was made possible with the help of the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, as well as the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Archives Board contributed photographs.


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