How One Doctor Started a Movement

Growing up in Cambridge, Dr. Jane Philpott was raised on the philosophy that all individuals have the power and potential to achieve their dreams, no matter what they may be. She is the current Minister of Indigenous Services in Canada who paved the way to become the first doctor to hold this role.

With her aspirations to always become a doctor, Dr. Philpott achieved her medical degree and chose to use her skills in Africa. Moving to Niger with her husband of nine years, Dr. Philpott witnessed the devastating results of the food shortages in Africa, as she saw first-hand, malnourished children and families. Worse still, during her time in Niger, Dr. Philpott tragically lost her daughter to meningococcemia, a disease that is rarely seen in North America.

Dr. Philpott presented a seminar on HIV/AIDS in 2004 at the Markham-Stouffvill Hospital. During this seminar, she suggested that the audience members sacrifice one day’s salary to foundations or not-for-profit organisations to engage the community in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As a result, this led to a movement now known as Philpott’s ‘Give for a Day to World AIDS’ initiative where people can source advice and ideas of where to donate their money based on the interest of individuals. The simplicity of the initiative resonates with the community and appears more achievable. It has now stretched beyond the medical field into legal and business communities and has so far raised more than 75 million dollars.

Determined to make the world a safer and healthier place, Dr Philpott, as head of the Family Medical at Markham-Stouffvill Hospital, is also involved in a program between the University of Toronto and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, that aims to reduce the current ratio of doctors to patients, which at present, is one doctor for every 40,000 patients.

Dr. Philpott felt that her role in medicine was restricted and wanted to help disadvantaged communities to improve employment opportunities, gain financial stability and have access to quality care. Following an off-hand comment, she made to the former Prime Minister Paul Martin, Dr. Jane Philpott decided to run for office. The Honourable Jane Philpott wanted to use this experience to improve the healthcare and mental health care system for Indigenous communities.

What fascinates me most about Dr. Philpott is her ability to strive for greatness. She understands that she has the capability to keep pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a doctor. Dr. Philpott took her knowledge as a physician and combined her passion to represent and help minority groups to try and create a safer and healthier world for all communities.

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Caitlyn Neale

Caitlyn Neale

Caitlyn Neale, aged 24, is a premedical student aspiring to become a paediatrician. She completed her Honours in Medical Science at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, has a keen interest to incorporate fun and humour into medical practice; and strives to add this fun and humour to stressful and overwhelming situations while going about daily life.