Faculty of Health Sciences researcher Kelley Lee (photo credit: Patrick Doyle)

Renewing Canada's leadership in global health

February 28, 2018

A new paper on Canada’s role in global health, co-led by SFU health sciences researcher Kelley Lee as part of the Lancet’s first series on Canada, calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to back up verbal commitments with concrete action to address health inequities at home and abroad.

The two-part series, which analyzes Canada’s contributions to health, outlines several challenges Canada must address to show real leadership in global health.

These include reducing the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and rejecting a “Canada first” agenda that makes economic self-interest a priority. In addition, adopting a Canadian global health strategy to address fragmentation of research, policy and action, is also needed to improve coordination and achieve more impact.

Lee and co-author Stephanie Nixon from the University of Toronto, also recommend promoting Canadians who embody the nation’s remarkable demographic diversity as valuable assets for championing global health equity.

It is only by addressing these four calls to action that Trudeau’s “Canada is back” pledge will be meaningful, say the authors.

“As many countries turn inwards in uncertain times, Canada has an opportunity to show leadership in a domain where we have traditionally excelled,” says Lee.

“Canada has leveraged its diversity and nation-building history to punch above its weight in foreign policy, and can do the same when it comes to global health leadership.”

However, she says, in the absence of bold, strategic action, Canada’s aspiration to be a progressive force for health will be strongly challenged.