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WHS Regional Meeting – North America, Montreal 2017: Providing better care in a pluralistic North American society

By Hélène Boisjoly
on April 21, 2017

In the last few years, the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal has developed an expertise in approaches towards diseases and patients. Take for example the approach that is most commonly referred to as “patient partnerships,” whereby interdisciplinary healthcare teams put to use the patient’s experiences, history, and expertise. The patient and their loved ones are therefore regarded themselves as members of the healthcare team. I firmly believe in collaboration between healthcare professionals, as well as in “patient partnerships,” especially in a pluralistic society like our own. Also important is the Mindfulness approach, whereby particular attention is paid to others as well as to yourself, so as to optimize the well-being of patients, students, and healthcare professionals alike. This approach allows greater communication and a better understanding of the unique context surrounding each patient.

Knowing the patient’s background, being attentive and respectful of their life, their reality, their habits, as well as their environment, are all key to ensuring that state-of-the-art care is delivered efficiently and professionally in agreement with the patient.

As part of this vision, this year’s theme, Health and Healthcare Delivery in Pluralistic Societies, was an obvious choice for the Université de Montréal and the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) who have the honour of hosting the 1st World Health Summit (WHS) Regional Meeting to be held in North America.

I believe this great international gathering will mark a new milestone that will allow us to meet head-on the challenges we face in the areas of health and social services, but also the challenges we face with issues related to migration and living together, especially in the case of First Nations and migrants. It’s a unique opportunity to get together to find viable solutions to these problems. That’s why this huge event, being held in Montreal on May 8-9 2017, is so important and relevant.

The world we live in today is unfortunately in a state of upheaval. The imbalance between northern and southern countries, between the rich and the poor, between those who are educated and those who don’t have access to an education, to technology, and to healthcare, keeps getting worse. The migration of populations is increasing every day and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. And now, even within rich and technologically advanced nations, we see significant gaps between citizens.

We want this conference to be a platform for exchanging ideas, so that solutions can emerge and become real priorities for the diverse groups attending. The ultimate goal is to improve health for all and to offer a better quality of life to the greatest number of people possible.

Respect, social accountability, discipline, and innovation — whether it be in biomedical research or education — are values that are essential to us. They must be placed at the heart of our actions in this pluralistic context. With 90 renowned speakers hailing from many different fields, this summit will reflect the significance of these values.

We will be receiving researchers from various disciplines, including basic sciences, medicine, public health, allied health sciences, urban planning, as well as professionals and teachers who work on the ground. Industry and civil society representatives will also be on-hand. And of course, students will be taking part as well. They are, after all, the future of health: passionate about world health issues, they themselves are becoming more and more mobile, looking for opportunities to travel and to be trained elsewhere in the world. This allows them to better understand the society in which they live in, as well as the wealth and diversity of knowledge and practices that exist.

Advanced societies should be judged by the way they take care of their most vulnerable citizens. Far too often, First Nations, migrants, women, children, seniors, and minorities suffer more because they have a higher risk of getting sick, have a shorter life expectancy, and have a harder time getting out of their precarious situations. They deserve access to healthcare that is tailored to their needs, that is efficient, and that is offered with great dignity.

Collectively, we have the capacity and the obligation to do better. Let’s work together for better access to quality health and healthcare for all!

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