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Communications - News at Medicine - October 2017 - Conference strengthens northern health

Conference strengthens northern health
October 17, 2017
The Northern, Rural, and Remote Health 2017 took place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay earlier this month. Co-sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine, the aim of the conference was to promote and strengthen transdisciplinary dialogue on critical issues affecting the health and health care of rural, Northern and Indigenous populations. 
The conference was held in Labrador from October 6-9 and was hosted by the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo is the director of the Labrador Institute where the conference was held. “This conference has brought us together to help promote and strengthen our focus on critical issues affecting the health and health care of rural, Northern, and Indigenous populations in Canada and abroad,” said. “We have a common interest in enhancing community health and together we have accomplished a lot, but we still have more to do.”
Dr. Cunsolo says researchers at the Labrador Institute are actively engaged in a variety of Northern-led and Northern-focused health research, including Indigenous health and wellness, mental health, healthy aging, climate change and health, medevac rates and processes, tuberculosis treatment and care, food security, water safety and access, climate-sensitive infectious diseases, cultural continuity, and social determinants of health.  
“Hosting the conference in Labrador provides an exciting opportunity to bring delegates together in a Northern and remote setting, as well as on the homelands of the Innu and Inuit of Labrador,” Dr. Cunsolo added. “Rural, remote, and Northern ranges face unique challenges and disparities compared to urban settings and simultaneously, also respond with amazing innovations and leading-edge research.”
More than 220 people were registered, representing all Territories, almost all provinces, Alaska, Greenland and Australia. In attendance were leaders in Indigenous health, health professionals, government representatives, educators, learners, researchers and more.

While in Labrador, Dr. Steele and collegues visited the Innu community of Natuashish and the Inuit community of Nain.

Dr. Margaret Steele, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, talked about some of the programs that Memorial University is providing in Labrador and Nunavut through the Faculty of Medicine. “Programs like our Northern Family Medicine Education Program, also known as NorFam was developed to respond to the health needs of the Indigenous communities in Labrador,” said Dr. Steele. “NorFam is one of the country’s first rural, remote teaching programs and trains residents in family medicine to be competent rural and northern physicians.”
“Through the Aboriginal Health Initiative, the Faculty of Medicine offers programs to attract Indigenous students to health professions including pathway programs like the Healers of Tomorrow Gathering camp and the Pre-Med Summer Institute for Indigenous students,” Dr. Steele added. “In addition, the faculty has three designated seats per year in the Doctor of Medicine program for Indigenous students living in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
At the conference, the Discipline of Medicine also awarded the Dr. Craig Loveys Award to Dr. Narsing Pradhan. Dr. Pradhan has been general surgeon in Goose Bay for 25 years and completed surgery residency at Memorial.
Dr. Michael Jong, professor of family medicine, noted that Dr. Pradhan was chosen because of his excellence in teaching. “He tailors his teaching to what a rural family physicians need to know and can do,” said Dr. Jong. “He is the most dedicate physician in our group. He is on call every day as the solo surgeon. He never hesitated to come in when called for a surgical consult – anytime, day or night and his willingness to teach is exemplary.”
Dr. Craig Loveys Award is given in recognition of contribution to the Discipline of Family Medicine of Memorial University of Newfoundland. The award is chosen by the fulltime faculty of the Discipline of Family Medicine and will be awarded to full or part time specialist faculty members.

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