Royal College Fellows have a long and proud tradition of undertaking humanitarian efforts in some of the most challenging and medically underserved areas of the world. At times, physicians doing humanitarian work have been faced with deadly infectious diseases and communities torn by unrest or outright war. These few have gone beyond what one would normally expect of a physician in their willingness to accept personal risk and potential injury.
I want to reflect in this message on the courage and sacrifice of such physicians, and remind Fellows that the Royal College Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award is accepting nominations until September to recognize precisely this type of individual.
The Teasdale-Corti Award, which we established in 2008, is among the most prestigious in our $1 million awards and grants program. It is named for an extraordinary physician couple, Dr. Lucille Teasdale-Corti and her husband Dr. Piero Corti, who made a significant contribution to the development of medical services oversees in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
As surgeons and international aid workers, these two spent 35 years in the Gulu region of Uganda improving the condition of the people living there by treating them, healing them and teaching them. They persevered through 25 years of civil unrest in a poverty-stricken region, saving thousands of lives and transforming a small missionary dispensary into the modern St. Mary’s-Lacor Hospital. St. Mary’s is now a well-regarded teaching hospital and medical centre staffed primarily by Ugandan health care professionals. The Teasdale-Cortis set a high standard indeed.
Fittingly, the eligibility criteria for the Royal College Teasdale-Corti Award are rigorous. Nominations must demonstrate that the physician’s current practice reflects altruism and integrity, courage and perseverance in the alleviation of human suffering—or that the physician has demonstrated such qualities in the past. For example, a brief look at two past winners reveals some truly extraordinary individuals:
- In 2014, the award was given to Dan Poenaru, MD, FRCSC for his work providing surgical care for children in Kijabe Kenya, at times through civil war and in refugee camps. Dr. Poenaru helped build a pediatric hospital and established the first accredited pediatric surgery training program in Eastern Africa.
- In 2013, Joanne Liu, MD, FRCPC was recognized for her work with Médecins sans frontiers, which brought her to dangerous regions such as Somalia, Honduras, Ethiopia, Sudan, Palestine, Uganda and Haiti to provide medical care, often with the sound of missiles flying overhead. Dr. Liu sometimes slept with her boots on in case of a need to flee.
All Teasdale-Corti Award winners:
Dr. Dan Poenaru
Dr. Joanne Liu
Dr. Robert Taylor
Dr. Ken Foster
Dr. Stephen Foster
Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese
Dr. Paul Thistle
In a sense, the Teasdale-Corti Award has been a grassroots effort. It was conceived and championed by our Regional Advisory Committees. The RACs made a strong argument that we should formally recognize physicians who go above and beyond normal practice to provide humanitarian health care. I heartily agree. And I encourage all of you to continue in the tradition of nominating extraordinary physicians by considering who among your professional networks may be worthy of the next Royal College Teasdale-Corti Award.
Any Fellow may submit a nomination. And nominations are open to all Canadian physicians worldwide. In making a submission, you will be asked to describe the nominee’s exceptional contribution (in Canada or abroad), provide the nominee’s curriculum vitae and two letters of support from Fellows. You can download the application form from our website. Once it is complete, send the nomination to email@example.com.
Please make your nominations by September 11, our firm deadline for submissions. I urge you to help celebrate those physicians willing to deliver the unexpected in bringing health and healing to other human beings.
Best wishes and warm regards,
Andrew Padmos, MD, FRCPC, FACP
Chief Executive Officer
An update on our work in Nepal
Nepal has been in the news recently following a devastating series of earthquakes that have plunged the country into near chaos.
The Royal College has been involved in humanitarian work in the region for some time. Our Fellows, in partnership with Dr. Susan Brien, FRCSC, vice president, Asia-Pacific, Royal College International, have worked since 2013 with Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in Nepal to establish the country’s first critical care training program.
Following the earthquakes, Dr. Brien continues to be in touch with our colleagues in Nepal, helping them respond to more immediate needs for health care and medical education system improvement.
The Royal College undertakes all of its work in Nepal on a humanitarian basis. We offer our Nepalese partners access to volunteers, faculty exchange and sharing of structures and processes needed to develop education programs. Examples of our core activities in Nepal include:
- Critical Care Program development (Read the Dialogue article to learn more about Royal College Fellows and their work in establishing this program).
- Needs assessment to prioritize needs in the Bir Hospital Cancer program to improve training of oncologists
- Assisting Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) volunteers in assessment of needs for the Kanti Children’s Hospital.
- Liaison with the Nepal Embassy in Canada and the Nepalese Diaspora and Canada’s Honorary Consul Dr. Buddha Basynat
- Identifying /introducing other Canadian partners/networks e.g. University of Ottawa and Accreditation Canada
- Providing both informal and formal advice to the government commission for the improvement of the system of medical education.
The Royal College will continue to work with our Nepal colleagues to identify how we can best support them at both a national education system level and in meaningful humanitarian efforts.
Partnering with the government of Nepal to improve the training of health care specialists.
Dr. Bob Woollard, Ms. Margaret Kennedy, Dr. Arjun Karki, Dr. Redouane Bouali, Dr. Andrew Padmos, Dr. Susan Brien