Last month, CPD’s Director of Global and Indigenous Health, Dr. Anna Banerji made a presentation to a group of twenty visiting physicians from China. Here she shares her experience of meeting with these delegates and sharing with them her background working in the Arctic and with Canada’s Indigenous people.
“On Oct 30th approximately 20 doctors from across China came to meet with faculty at the University of Toronto. These physicians are directors of travel medicine clinics in China, and many of them were infectious and tropical disease specialists that provide services through International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT). The mission of the group was to learn about health care and health care management in Canada.
One of the physicians they met was me. I initially spoke about my research in the Canadian Arctic and soon it became clear to the Chinese physicians that Canada also had issues about health care access and many of the visitors were surprised that in a resource rich country, such as Canada, many Indigenous people do not have access to clean water and healthy foods. They were also surprised that the life expectancy of the Inuit was 64.5, which is much lower than that of China. I also spoke about my work with refugees in my pediatric immigrant/refugee health clinic and the North American Refugee Health Conference, which I chair. I also spoke about the recent cuts to refugee health by the Federal government and how in Canada I had the right to peacefully protest publicly without the fear of reprisal. I then talked about some of my international work with the Canadian Red Cross in Haiti after the earthquake and my recent trip to Ethiopia. Near the end of the talk, it appears that the world was a bit smaller and that the Doctors from China realized that there was more in common with Canada than what they had originally thought.”
Dr. Banerji is the chair and course director for the North American Refugee Health Conference which will be held again in June 2015.