Family Medicine, Holistic Care and the Ongoing Global AIDS Crisis

Tue, November 26, 2019
St. Michael's Hospital Auditorium, Toronto

Tue, 26 November 2019

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM EST

Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute

209 Victoria Street

Room 209

Toronto, ON M5B 1T8

Co-hosted by the University of Toronto Community & Family Medicine and St. Michael's Unity Health Toronto

Taking into consideration the unique role of primary care and family medicine in achieving health equity and the decades of extraordinary, holistic HIV & AIDS care provided by community-based organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Philpott and Stephen Lewis will draw on their unique perspectives from policy, advocacy, and leadership roles in discussing important issues including: 

  • Do we have to choose between addressing AIDS and building strong, comprehensive health systems? 
  • What is the role of family medicine in truly bringing an end to the AIDS pandemic in Canada and globally?
  • How can HIV treatment for all be accomplished in countries where the formal health sector is over-stretched and under-funded?
  • What lessons can family doctors learn from community-based caregivers?
  • What can the HIV & AIDS response teach us about reaching the goal of primary health care for all?

The global health community committed to primary health care for all at the Astana Conference in 2018 in response to the fact that “at least half the world’s population lacks access to essential health services” (WHO). As the Astana Declaration confirmed, primary health care for all is essential to reaching Sustainable Development Goal number 3 – good health and well-being. At the same time, investment in health systems cannot come at the expense of targeted responses to the world’s most devastating health emergencies, including HIV & AIDS, which still takes 770,000 lives a year, with 1.7 million new HIV transmissions annually (UNAIDS). The global community has committed to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030—a goal that will only be realized with substantial, targeted investments in the HIV response. The seeming contradiction between the need to invest in strong, comprehensive health systems and the need to focus on HIV as a specific health emergency highlights the importance of holistic, people-centred responses to HIV & AIDS that are rooted in primary care and that strengthen health systems. 

In 2003, Stephen Lewis and his daughter Ilana Landsberg-Lewis founded the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which has partnered with and supported 325 community-based organizations (CBOs) in the 15 sub-Saharan African countries hardest hit by HIV & AIDS. These organizations have stepped in to ensure that their communities have the holistic care and treatment they desperately need. CBOs and the home-based care programmes they run have become a vital part of the HIV prevention, treatment, and care response and, by extension, the primary health care landscape. They are playing a critical role in the creation of continuous chains of care; linking people living in rural and underserved communities, not only with the services provided by the CBOs, but also with the various forms of medical assistance that are available from government-sponsored health facilities. 

In 2004, Dr. Jane Philpott launched the Give a Day Campaign to encourage the medical community (and, later, the legal community) to support the global response to the AIDS crisis by giving a day’s pay on World AIDS Day (December 1st) to an organization working in the area of HIV & AIDS – originally recommending the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International. As they mark the 15th anniversary of the campaign, Dr. Philpott and Stephen Lewis will reflect on the global HIV and AIDS landscape in light of significant international funding declines in the last year, the continued need to support community-based work, and the importance of engaging the medical community to join Give a Day. Family doctors understand better than most just how essential comprehensive care is both in the HIV response and in ensuring primary health care for all.

Speaker Bios: 

Friedah Nxasana is a head nurse at Cotlands, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In operation since 1936, Cotlands provides services for children and their families with effective, high-impact healthcare, and psychosocial and early learning play-based development opportunities to help children thrive. This is achieved by addressing their education, health and psychosocial wellbeing through community care programmes. Cotlands works with vulnerable children in the community such as those who are living with and affected by HIV, orphaned, abused and those whose rights are being violated.

Dr. Jane Philpott is a Canadian politician and family doctor. She was elected as Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville in October 2015. She served in numerous cabinet positions from 2015 to 2019, including Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Prior to her political career, Jane worked as a family doctor for 30 years. She was Chief of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital and is an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine.

Stephen Lewis is the co-founder and board co-chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and he is the co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization. He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. 


To register, please click here