Meet five young changemakers who are driving gender equality in health care

FoMD social justice champions recognized among Alberta Council for Global Cooperation's Top 30 Under 30.

Kirsten Bauer - 31 January 2019

Five trainees from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry (FoMD) are being honoured for their work to encourage gender equality in their communities and around the world. Trainees Alex Wong, MD/MBA class of '21, Karl Narvacan, MD class of '19, Bryce Thomsen, MD class of '20, Peter Anto Johnson, pediatric graduate student, and alumnus Ameer Farooq,'14 MD, have been named Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC).

Each year the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation recognizes 30 of Alberta's outstanding young people who are working to improve quality of life for all, with a particular focus on furthering the United Nations global agenda for sustainable development-comprised of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions. This year's ACGC Top 30 Under 30 honourees were chosen for their focused efforts in advancing SDG 5: gender equality.

Each of these inspiring young leaders are driving change to encourage sustainable gender equality and overall health equity around the world. See the complete list of Top 30 Under 30 here.

Meet the winners

Alex Wong dreams of a health-care system that meets the needs of Canadians from all walks of life. The MD/MBA student is a co-founder of the MD Admissions Initiative for Diversity & Equity (MD Aide), a program designed to make it easier for post-secondary students from low-income and Indigenous backgrounds to prepare for the infamously difficult Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). He is a member of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, the Medical Students' Association, and a volunteer with the international non-profit organization Net Impact.Read more.

Karl Narvacan is a first-generation Canadian who knows firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate Canada's health-care system as a newcomer, which is why he works with Migrante Alberta to help people connect with the health services they need. With help from the Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI) and Alberta Innovates (AI), he is pursuing research projects that address the knowledge gap in women and children's health. Narvacan also volunteers with the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society (SCITCS) and Choosing Wisely Canada. Read More.

Bryce Thomsen is driven to fight inequities in global health through innovation. Hailing from rural Alberta, his passion for travel opened his eyes to the social inequities faced by people living in poverty worldwide. His advocacy work ranges from international vaccination campaigns, collaborative research with Indigenous groups, reducing sexual violence and co-founding medical software aimed at making reproductive health care more accessible. He believes that opportunities to create change are everywhere, including research labs, campus awareness groups and international conferences. His volunteer experience spans a range of initiatives and organizations including the World Health Organization, The FoMD's Inclusive Health Conference and the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.Read more.

Peter Anto Johnson, pediatrics graduate student, draws from his personal experience as a Canadian newcomer and pediatric patient to inform collaborative research on women and children's health. His undergraduate research involved iron deficiency in expecting mothers, which is a particularly prevalent issue in developing nations. He recently piloted the Physical Literacy for Active Youth (PLAY) program alongside fellow U of A students to teach children the value of integrating physical and mental health care. Under the advisement of supervisor Georg Schmolzer, Johnson continues to pursue sustainable solutions for health-care inequities around the world. Read more.

Ameer Farooq, '14 MD and general surgery resident at the University of Calgary, wants to make space for women in the surgical profession and improve conditions for female patients around the world. His life-changing experiences in international hospital settings like Guyana and Pakistan have made him aware of a lack of safe surgical care available to women, resulting in preventable deaths during childbirth. In addition to international volunteer efforts, Farooq is committed to evidence-based research and communication, including blogging and podcasts, to support long-term, systemic improvements within his profession. Read more.