Student advocacy featured at Hungry for Change Gala

In Uganda, Adriana Cappelletti and Rachel Loebach witnessed firsthand the effects poverty, government corruption and labour disruptions can have on women and children. They agree it was an eye-opening and powerful elective experience.

With a desire to raise awareness about their experiences and reinforce the value of global health, the fourth year medical students made a presentation at the recent Hungry for Change Gala.

“During our elective we gained insight into the challenges many countries encounter in the delivering health care, and we learned more about the ethics of global health partnerships and what it takes for these relationships to be mutually beneficial,” Cappelletti said.

The Gala is an annual event organized by first and second year medical students who have interest in global health awareness and education. Proceeds from the Gala are directed to scholarships that help medical students travel to resource-poor regions for clinical health electives.

Cappelletti and Loebach were pleased to make a presentation at the Gala as it provided them with an opportunity to continue their advocacy work. 

“I truly believe that social accountability is an essential part of working in health care,” Cappelletti said. “Students don’t have to wait until they’re in their careers to begin advocating for underserved communities.”

Loebach echoed the message saying that it is important to keep an open mind and realize there are countless ways to be an advocate.

“Advocacy doesn’t need to be complicated; sharing new facets of what you learn and experience is a great way to inspires others to become involved,” she said.

The aspiring physicians believe their messages were well received by the Gala attendees, as several indicated an interest in supporting an upcoming fundraising event where proceeds are directed to an organization in Uganda which trains local leaders.

In addition to making the presentation, Cappelletti and Loebach have also written an article on the topic of maternal health and reciprocal health partnerships, which was accepted by the Canadian Federation of Medical Students Annual Review. The students hope the article will increase awareness amongst a larger audience of Canadian medical students.

Becoming involved with the global health initiative and participating in the elective really forced the students to take a step back from their own life and consider others. They believe that understanding the impact of the social determinants of health is an essential part of becoming an excellent physician.

Cappelletti and Loebach are both pursuing careers in Family Medicine, which grants them the opportunity to continue to be involved in global health initiatives throughout residency.

Cappelletti will also be continuing her current community-based research in the field of Indigenous Health.

“I have learned so much about social medicine through partnering with Indigenous communities,” she said. “In the future, I hope to participate in or perhaps even lead community-based programs abroad, such as teaching at a Canadian-run medical school in a resource-poor country, like McMaster’s initiative in Namibia.”