E5- Black Health Matters: Building a primary health care system that works

5. Addressing social determinants of health

  • Date:  Friday, October 9, 2020
  • Concurrent Session E
  • Time: 10:00 am - 10:45 am
  • Style: Panel Discussion (45 minutes-session)


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate our everyday lives, worldwide protests roared into being, springing from the death of George Floyd, but growing due to its unfortunate relevance to Black people's experience across the globe. As has been pointed out, for many, anti-Black racism was already a pandemic.

But what does this mean for primary care? This session will deliver:

  • An overall focus on Black people’s experience with healthcare in Ontario
  • Context for this at the system/ policy level- including the ways in which seemingly neutral instruments and tools feed an anti-Black narrative
  • Replicable programs addressing these issues as carried out by Black health leaders
  • What primary care teams can do


Sané Dube


Sané Dube (she/her) is the Policy and Government Relations Lead, with a focus on Black Health, at the Alliance for Healthier Communities. Her people are the Ndebele of what is now called Zimbabwe. She works in Toronto.

Liben Gebremikael

Liben Gebremikael, Executive Director, TAIBU Community Health Centre

Liben Gebremikael is the first Executive Director of TAIBU Community Health Centre. Gebremikael has over 25 years of experience in the Primary Healthcare Sector, Social Services, Mental Health, and Community Capacity Building and Development field. He has worked as a Social Worker, Child & Family Therapist, Project Coordinator, and Therapeutic Group Facilitator with various primary care and non-for-profit organizations working with racialized and marginalized populations.

He holds an MA in Migration, Mental Health & Social Care from the University of Kent (UK), a Masters Certificate in Healthcare Management from Schulich School of Business, University of York and he has also completed the Community Health Leadership Program at the Rotman School of Management.
In June 2012, Gebremikael received the prestigious ‘Emerging Leaders Award’ from the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC).

 Cheryl Prescod

Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director, Black Creek Community Health Centre

As the Executive Director of Black Creek Community Health Centre, located in one of Toronto’s most marginalized neighbourhoods, Cheryl Prescod strives to ensure equitable access to health services for vulnerable populations. A dedicated community leader for over 25 years, she is known as a coalition builder, bringing together diverse stakeholders in responding to the real needs of people. Throughout her professional and personal interactions, Cheryl continuously champions equity and inclusion, towards the creation of a more just society. 

Serena Thompson-cropped

Serena Thompson, Patient Advocate

Born in New York to West Indian parents, who never heard of Sickle Cell Anemia, Serena struggled physically and emotionally through life in her early years while living in Toronto. After experiencing 30 years of humiliation, mis-understanding, isolation in schools, hospitals and at her places of employment, Serena became engaged in the sickle cell community as an advocate by joining The Sickle Cell Association of Ontario in 2009 and was voted on as a Board Member and Social Support Committee Chairperson for 7 years until the end of 2016. She has now become the Vice-President and Director of Programs of SCAO’s 2019 new Board.

Succumbing to frequent stays in the hospital, growing up with scd was hard on the family, but even more so when Serena approached adolescence and was more aware of her condition when it came down to receiving quality treatment in the healthcare settings. The transition to adulthood is harder because the support system within her family, healthcare and community was not readily available compared to when she was a child. The main challenge was having to prove to the emergency room staff on how excruciating sickle cell crisis pain should be taken seriously and treated with priority to help prevent unnecessary extended stay or admissions in the hospital which in turn will reduce the cost of car to the government.

As a single mom living in Toronto with sickle cell anemia, she has continued to dedicate her time to help those who are also affected by sickle cell disease. Serena’s main focus is spreading awareness and advocacy through information sessions such as conferences, symposiums, seminars and panel discussions, through media such as radio and tv. She has joined the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant Planning Committee to liaise with the contestants and help educate them more about sickle cell disease.

Serena recently served as a member of the Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. She is serving on the Healthy Debate Committee, Medical Doctors Admissions Committee, Patient Alliance for Patient Safety, TAIBU Adult Sickle Cell Support Group Steering Committee, Chair of Ujima: Emergency Sickle Cell Fund, and is the Outreach & Community Engagement Officer for youth in The EDGE Program & Cotillion Ball.