Recap: BPAO’s 15th Annual Health Symposium

Dedicated to advancing healthcare equity and fostering dialogue on pressing health issues affecting the Black community, the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO) recently hosted its 15th Annual Health Symposium. Held on February 24, 2024, at the University of Toronto’s Medical Sciences Building, the Symposium provided a platform for healthcare professionals, residents, and medical students from across Ontario to engage in meaningful discussions and gain insights into critical health matters.

Speaker Highlights

The Symposium brought together a dynamic lineup of esteemed speakers, each exploring a unique set of topics and igniting engaging conversations.

First on the stage was keynote speaker Jennifer Bernard, President, and CEO of the SickKids Foundation. With an inspiring discussion, she delved into the transformative power of philanthropy in healthcare, highlighting the profound impact charitable contributions can have on addressing healthcare challenges and advancing equity. She stated, “We cannot go back and change the past. We have to start from where we are. The only place we can go is forward and use those tools as access for the future.”

Following Bernard’s presentation, BPAO member, Dr. Neil Isaac, a Radiologist at North York General Hospital, took the floor to provide updates on breast cancer screening tailored for Black women. He emphasized the significance of early detection, stating, “Screening is important for all women irrespective of race.” Dr. Isaac underscored the importance of accessible healthcare services for all women, particularly immigrants who face challenges in accessing mammograms, citing factors such as social and economic conditions that reduce screening rates in immigrants.

Continuing the conversation, Dr. Michelle Scholzberg, Division Head of Hematology-Oncology and Medical Director of the Coagulation Laboratory at St. Michael’s Hospital, led a thought-provoking session on institutionalized sexism and racism within the field of hematology. She discussed how biases impact healthcare outcomes and explored constructive pathways for addressing these systemic issues.

Next, Dr. Yvette Miller-Monthrope, a board-certified Dermatologist and Dermatopathologist, took the stage. She delved into the intricacies of dermatological care for patients with skin of different colors, emphasizing the significance of cultural competence and effective care strategies across diverse skin spectrums

Closing the symposium was BPAO member Dr. Chantal Phillips, a Resident from the University of Ottawa, who shared her thoughts on how to better understand and care for Black youth and their health. Dr. Phillips emphasized the importance of personalized approaches to address the unique health care needs of this demographic, stating that “culturally responsive care includes small, manageable, and sustainable modifications to your practice to better support Black youth.”

In addition to the insightful discussions, the Symposium was enhanced by the presence of sponsors and partners, such as MD Financial Management, Scotiabank Healthcare+, Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Amgen,  Sun Life Financial, Black Healthcare Professionals Network (BHPN), and After Breast Cancer. Their participation not only played a role in the symposium’s success but also reiterated their dedication to supporting initiatives aimed at promoting fairness in healthcare and improving outcomes for the Black community.

Throughout the day, attendees enjoyed a delicious variety of food, including a tasty breakfast, Caribbean lunch, and tempting sweets. The Symposium ended with a Wine & Cheese reception, allowing participants to connect and discuss their thoughts from the event.

The Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario extends its gratitude to all attendees, speakers, sponsors, and partners for their participation and commitment to advancing healthcare equity and improving outcomes for the Black community.

Note: If you haven’t already, please take a moment to share your thoughts and suggestions. Your input helps us improve future events and better cater to your needs. Access the feedback form here

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