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Krever Inquiry shifts focus to public policy

A new disease was threatening the Canadian blood supply in the early 1980s: AIDS. But the Canadian Red Cross was slow to introduce donor screening methods and even slower to test the blood. With the Krever Commission, those infected by the AIDS virus and hepatitis C found a compassionate ear and the answers they sought about who was to blame for this public health scandal.

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Dr. Don Francis, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, was considered a "loudmouth alarmist" when he was the first to sound a warning about AIDS in the blood supply. His testimony will help the Krever Inquiry compare the early U.S. response to the crisis with Canada's reaction. The inquiry is also probing the actions of its national health organizations -- and as this CBC News clip shows, the Red Cross is already deflecting any blame.
• The Canadian blood system was managed, funded and regulated by a wide range of committees, organizations and government bodies. Numerous other groups were created to address issues specifically related to AIDS in the blood supply.
• The Canadian Blood Committee was created in 1981 by the provincial ministers of health. It funded the Red Cross's blood transfusion service.

• The Bureau of Biologics, an arm of the Health Protection Branch of the Department of National Health and Welfare, approved blood products for use in Canada, licensed manufacturers, and inspected manufacturing and collection centres.
• Until 1989, the Canadian Red Cross set the standards for health and safety in the collection, testing, storage and distribution of blood and its components.
Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: March 7, 1995
Guest(s): Donald Francis, Durhane Wong-Rieger
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Brenda Craig
Duration: 2:32

Last updated: February 17, 2012

Page consulted on December 23, 2014

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