Session 20: Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health

By: Jennifer Kitts, Consultant

Peter Singer

Peter Singer

Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, and Director of the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health at the University of Toronto, gave a presentation on a new report of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, entitled “Canadians Making a Difference”.


An expert panel was convened to assess Canada’s strategic role in global health and its comparative advantages in this area. The report begins with a celebration of the many successes of Canadians making a difference in global health. These areas include the areas of micronutrients, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, tobacco control, and women’s and children’s health. The experts agreed that there is a compelling rationale for Canada to play a more strategic role in global health, and that there is a need for a more coordinated all-of-Canada approach.

The panel determined that three principles should guide Canada’s strategic role in global health: equity, effectiveness, and engagement. Canada has many strengths in global health including the strong value it places on universal access to health care, its strong health and foreign policy, its world class education system, and the fact that Canada has many global leaders in the areas of indigenous health research and the social determinants of health.

However, some of the barriers preventing Canada from leveraging its strength include: a lack of a unifying vision for global health; poor coordination among Canadian global health actors; the fact that career paths in global health at institutions of higher learning are not clear; and also, that there are limited avenues to mobilize interest in global health.

Areas of comparative advantage and opportunities for leadership include: (1) indigenous and circumpolar health research; (2) population and public health; (3) community-oriented primary health care; (4) smart partnerships in health education and research; and, (5) global health innovation.

Next, there will be a phase of continued listening and encouraging more voices to join in the conversation. The report can be found at, and comments on facebook and twitter are encouraged.  There will be another session tomorrow afternoon (Monday) that will look at the report in more detail.

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