New directions at Healthy Debate

Jul 4, 2018
Andreas Laupacis

Healthy Debate is seven years old!

We’ve made changes along the way, most notably the addition of Faces of Health Care, which provides a personal look at our health care system from the point of view of patients, caregivers and health care providers.

We have now made changes again.

We have modified the composition of our editorial board and established new affiliations with the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Our editorial board chooses the topics for the articles we write, identifies people we should interview and discusses the opinion pieces and all other issues relevant to Healthy Debate. We assign one or two people from the board to edit each article.

Until now, board members have been almost entirely people who work within the health care system. We have now added eight users of the health care system who have a diversity of backgrounds and experiences to our editorial board.

  • Zeeshan Ansari is caregiver to his mother, who had a long post-operative recovery following neurosurgery that involved repeated stays in acute care hospitals and a rehabilitation centre.
  • Francine Buchanan has been a board member for a couple of years. She is primary caregiver to a boy with complex medical needs who spent the first year-and-a-half of his life in hospital.
  • Drew Cumpson suffered a spinal cord injury in 2011 and is a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic who lives at home.
  • Pat Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and with ovarian cancer in 2018.
  • Ngozi Iroanyah is caregiver for her father, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Claude Lurette has bipolar disorder and has experienced addiction.
  • Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith is a Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation and a writer.
  • Serena Thompson has sickle cell anemia and has had many encounters with the health care system.

We have also added three people who work in the system, joining Jeremy Petch, Maureen Taylor, Joshua Tepper and myself.

  • Ryan Hinds leads community engagement at the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.
  • Seema Marwaha is a journalist, researcher and general internist at Trillium Health Partners.
  • Chika Stacy Oriuwa is a medical student at the University of Toronto with a particular interest in race and gender in medicine.

The Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto is now a major sponsor of Healthy Debate (the other is the Ontario SPOR Support Unit). This sponsorship is part of the department’s commitment to increasing patient involvement in its work.

As part of our partnership with the Department of Medicine, we have established a four-week elective for medical residents who want to gain experience writing about health care issues for the public. Residents within the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto will get preferred access, but the elective is open to any residents enrolled in a Canadian medical school who can be in Toronto for four contiguous weeks. The expectation is that the resident will write one article, one opinion piece and complete one Faces of Health Care interview during the four weeks. The resident will work closely with Dafna Izenberg, Healthy Debate’s managing editor, the editorial board and me. Interested residents should contact or

Healthy Debate has also entered into a partnership with the Fellowship of Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health to offer a one-year course in health journalism aimed at University of Toronto–affiliated students doing a graduate or professional doctorate degree in a health discipline, medical residents or practising physicians. During the program, senior journalists will mentor students as they report on critical issues in health for Healthy Debate and other Canadian media. It’s based on the Munk School’s Fellowship in Global Journalism, which has taught journalism to nearly 100 subject-matter specialists in the past six years, including nearly 30 health professionals and scientists. Those interested can contact

I am excited about this evolution of Healthy Debate, grateful to the new members of the editorial board and our new partners, and look forward to the coming years.

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