Yes, Alykhan. There is a Santa Claus

Dear Editor,

I am a 56-year-old family doctor in Manotick, Ont. My patients and colleagues tell me Santa Claus does not exist. They look at the world around them and see emergency departments closing down. They see long wait lists, too few ambulances (code zero), more homelessness, more empty food banks. They see their diseases getting much worse before anything is done and more and more of their friends and family suffering or dying of mental health illnesses or opioid addictions. They see there are not enough family doctors and nurses and watch orphaned patient numbers rise. They see pharmacists becoming ad hoc doctors, dealing with minor ailments while not having enough medications in stock. They hear of the frenetic pace of a day in a life of doctors and shake their heads in disbelief at the unbearable truth that doctors have nothing more to give.

My patients and colleagues see war, famines, more diseases and cynicism all around them. They say there is no Santa Claus or that he doesn’t care!

It makes me very sad. My patients are getting worse, and I am impotent to help them. My colleagues are burning out, retiring or dying.

Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus? Does he care?

Alykhan Abdulla

From the Editor:


Your patients and colleagues are wrong. They have been affected by skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe anything except what they see and hear. They think that nothing can exist unless it is visible.

In this great universe of ours, there are many strong advocates, and they work quietly in the background for a better future state. They make changes to the world around us because they believe that pluralism, dialogue, diplomacy and ethics matter more than skepticism. I am going to share some of them with you.

Santa worked with the OurCare project team to highlight the leveraging power of team-based care, and building on relationships with your family doctor, building on citizen engagement and virtual care being integrated in public health care for the long run (outside of for profit companies).

Santa also worked with AMS Healthcare to bring proposals for national licensure and new licensing exams to improve health-care human resources, apps like CANImmunize, rethinking standardized EMR, virtual medicine, smart sensors and introducing blockchain to help with efficient and timely patient information exchange.

And, federal and provincial health ministers have acknowledged these problems and have recommitted to solving them together. That’s optimism.

I know all of these activities don’t solve immediate problems, but they show a willingness to try to be better and do better.

Yes, Alykhan there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. These things are everywhere if you look carefully, and when you see them, they will lift your life to its highest beauty and joy. How dreary would it be if there was no Santa Claus or if there was no Alykhan. We must have faith, joy, determination and then this world would truly surmount all obstacles.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus! And thank God he lives!

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Alykhan Abdulla


Dr. Alykhan Abdulla is a comprehensive family doctor working in Manotick, Ont., Board Director of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Director for Longitudinal Leadership Curriculum at the University of Ottawa Undergraduate Medical Education.

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