CASSA Health Equity Summit – September 2017

On September 15, 2017, Dr. Istvan Mucsi was honoured to be a guest speaker at the 7th Annual Health Equity Summit hosted by theCouncil of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA). CASSA is an umbrella group of organizations working to empower the members of South Asian communities to participate fully in defining Canada’s political, economic, social and cultural future. This full-day event at Ryerson University focused on men’s health in the South Asian context, with emphasis on topics in mental, sexual and chronic heart and kidney health.

At the afternoon session on heart and kidney health, Dr. Mucsi noted that the rising rates in Canada of chronic and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) affect South Asian Canadians to a pronounced degree, given the elevated rates of kidney disease and also of diabetes and hypertension (two frequent precursors of kidney failure) in this population. He described our research group’s work in fulfilling a pressing need for relevant and culturally sensitive kidney and transplant education for South Asian Canadians. Dr. Mucsi stressed the importance of raising awareness among South Asian Canadians of kidney transplant as the best renal replacement therapy for ESKD, and highlighted the poorer 5-year survival rates and quality of life of kidney patients on long-term dialysis. Participants in the session seemed quite engaged by the topic and were eager to learn more about kidney health and disease prevention.
The summit also offered several valuable breakout sessions on chronic health, mental health, sexual health and health policy, covering:
  • Diabetes prevention:This session highlighted community-based diabetes education programs offered through Toronto Public Health and the Flemington Health Centre’s South Asian Diabetes Prevention Program.
  • Cardiovascular health: In this session, Firdaus Ali from the Heart and Stroke Foundation spoke about community-based health education and disease prevention programs targeting the needs of members of South Asian communities.
  • Mental health and illness: This session featured a research study by Dr. Robert Whitley of McGill University on the mental health of Sri Lankan Tamil men in Toronto, as well as a presentation on stress management services offered through the South Asian Community Health Services organization.
  • Sexual health: This session offered presentations from Toronto Public Health and from the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention describing their HIV/AIDS, sexual health and education/support programs for South Asian men.
  • Health equity: The afternoon concluded with a presentation from Joanne Plaxton of the Health Equity Branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, focusing on Ontario’s recent Patients First Act (Bill 41, 2016) which aims to reduce Ontarians’ barriers to accessing prompt, appropriate health care.

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