Global Health Advocate

The Global Health Advocate (GHA) works at the unique intersection of global health, political awareness, and advocacy with a dedicated interest in underprivileged populations and health politics. 

In this role, the GHA works closely with teams at both the local and national levels to organize and act on various initiatives. In particular, the GHA sits on the CFMS Global Health Advocacy Program, comprised of students in equivalent roles from medical schools across the country, as well as the Queen’s Global Health Committee and the Queen’s Advocacy Committee.

CFMS Annual Lobby Day 
The most important event in the GHA role is an annual CFMS Lobby Day, during which medical students across the nation gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to speak with policymakers on a chosen advocacy issue. Physicians have tremendous ability to shape decisions around health policy, thereby influencing patient care. As such, Lobby Day is an important opportunity for medical students to learn more about what political action may entail in Canadian society at an early stage in their medical careers. 

The 2014 CFMS Lobby Day took place on November 22-24 with a focus on Pharmacare. At the moment, Canada is the only developed with a universal health care system that does not include corresponding universal drug coverage, with grave consequences for patients. 1 in 10 Canadians are unable to fill a prescription due to cost.

During this event, 70 medical students met with 45 political representatives from both the House of Commons and the Senate in order to seek support for a universal Pharmacare strategy. Specifically, we asked that the Government of Canada convene a Special Committee or Task Force to 1) report on the current state of pharmaceutical coverage in Canada, and 2) outline steps towards the development of a national Pharmacaresystem that corrects current financial inefficiencies while ensuring Canadians have equal access to necessary medicines as part of a truly universal health care system. 

An editorial in the Toronto Star was published in the follow-up to Lobby Day, it's time for a universal pharmacare system

Electing Pharmacare at Queen's
The GHA in collaboration with the CFMS Governmental Affairs and Advocacy Committee gave a presentation to Queen's medical students on the topic of Pharmacare. The goal of the presentation was to inform the student body about what happened during and following the CFMS Lobby Day. 

A resource package on Pharmacare was put together to encourage students to join the advocacy efforts by speaking to friends, colleagues, and political leaders about the importance of a national Pharmacare strategy in facilitating universal access to medicines in Canada.

CFMS Humans of Pharmacare
The CFMS Global Health Advocacy Program launched a campaign called Humans of Pharmacare to put human faces to the Pharmacare issue. It features stories from Canadians across the country, involving health workers who provide care and patients who receive it, as well as families and friends who are often equally impacted by the illness of a loved one and hold equal stake in the care process.

We encourage you to visit Humans of Pharmacare on Facebook or Twitter @cfmspharmacare. If you or someone you know has a story that should be featured in the Humans of Pharmacare campaign, we would love to hear from you! Send a direct message on Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail the Global Health Advocate.