4.1 Objectives


Through this module, you will:

  • Understand the importance of health advocacy to promote health and well-being of refugees and other vulnerable populations
  • Identify skills and challenges of the “health advocate” both at home and abroad
  • Appreciate the challenges and rewards of building a career in Global Health

Host Introduction Video

Read the video transcript

Dobrý den! That means hello in Czech. My name is David Ponka and I am a physician-teacher in Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa. I’ve picked this site, the Human Rights Memorial right in front of City Hall in Ottawa which commemorates social equity within our own city. I decided early on to focus my career in Global Health, after an elective in Nepal during medical school. I remember seeing so much suffering and injustice and promising myself to try to do something about it.

It was hard to keep this dream alive during a busy residency program, but shortly after, I pursued this goal by working for several years on a First Nations reserve in Northern Ontario, Moose Factory. This further reinforced my impression that social and health equity are the foremost determinants of health. This is a pattern that I have seen time and again, in several marginalized communities on various continents, working with Médecins Sans Frontières in Chad during the worst of the Darfur conflict, working in rural and indigenous primary care teaching clinics in Benin (West Africa) and Panama (Central America), as well working in Cité Soleil, Port au Prince’s worst slum in Haiti after the earthquake.

I look forward to beginning to explore some of the dilemmas that these situations provoke within the medical practitioner and the skills and attitudes that help us effectively reach out. Nazdar! That means goodbye in Czech.

Duration: 1 minute 23 seconds