Read about our work in Nepal and Myanmar, about how Christine survived the recent earthquake, and how she will be speaking at TEDx June 26th in Calgary.
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Earthquake in Nepal

As you are no doubt aware and most likely watched in horror, Nepal was devastated by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25th. It has traumatized families, many of whom lost loved ones as their mudbrick homes collapsed. Century-old heritage sites, where these communities lived and thrived, crumbled to dust. Our ED Christine was there during the earthquake and its aftermath, which was difficult, but leaving those behind to suffer was even more so. We are reaching out because we have a partner in Nepal that is making a difference for those people.
Over the past year, GFF has worked with the Patan Hospital to help build their capacity around Family Medicine training. Since the earthquake, the hospital has run out money for medications, operating room equipment, and food for the hundreds of patients all across the fragile hospital building, taking refuge in their parking lot, and in a nearby field hospital. Christine's personal story about living through the disaster can be found on our website: under the “Nepal” tab, the donation link is here and the blog here will tell you the story why she returns to Nepal.  Christine watched the staff’s dedication and smooth treatment of patients those first days. This is one way for you to make a direct difference to the health and well-being of the Nepali people. These funds will come with a tax receipt, and (if arrive before May 25th) get matched by the Canadian government’s promised Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Please donate before Sunday to take advantage of this opportunity!
Monsoon season will hit Nepal in June and there will be few improvements in shelter or water environments by then. The risk of infectious outbreaks will only worsen with time, and the death toll could mount. The need is ongoing. Please consider giving – as an individual or maybe use your next party as a fundraiser, give it as a wedding gift or party favor – any amount helps; money goes so very far in Nepal. We have raised over $25,000 so far, and wish to give thanks to those who have already donated.

Nepal Work

The Patan Academy of Health Science (PAHS) is a special medical school. They have a mandate to graduate health care workers to serve the rural poor, and they even have assessment policies to admit those most likely to succeed in these settings. Imagine a medical school with the word "love" in its mission statement.

Our ED visited PAHS for the second time in April, and had the opportunity to work to their GP faculty around their curriculum. The faculty have been running a training program for a number of years, but since PAHS will graduate its first cohort of medical students in 2015, they are looking to create a great post-graduate experience. Since they see family medicine as the most sensible kind of physicians for rural environments, they will focus their first training following medical school on this.

PAHS already sends their medical students to remote district hospitals for some of their education. They realize that training in the resource-poor settings, getting more comfortable and confident here, will increase the likelihood of staying there. Watch an interview with one of them here.

Their GP program is designed to teach all the skills necessary to work in rural Nepal. They study surgery, obstetrics, as well as medicine and primary care. Christine was able to interview seven of the current GP residents, and learned what they liked about the current training, and their ideas on what could be even better. This feedback was given to faculty so they can evaluate their current course. The curriculum documents were updated, and some new academic tools were discussed. Christine was able to teach the residents about patient-centered interviewing using the Calgary-Cambridge Guide (Calgary is named in one of the most popular interviewing methods globally), and residents thought it was fantastic.

The hope is to continue to support the great work of PAHS through fundraising for their rural training, ongoing academic visits (through Academics Without Borders supporting the University of Calgary initiative), and hopefully more student and resident involvement from across Canada.



Our ED Christine has been given the opportunity to speak at the next TEDx event on June 26th afternoon in Calgary. TED is a venue of interesting and eclectic speakers that has become a global phenomenon over the last decade. The original series stood for Technology (T), Entertainment (E), and Design (D) but since these early speakers there have been incredible talks on a range of subjects.

People as diverse as Bill Gates to nuclear physicists have given dynamic talks that have been watched by millions of people.  Some of our favorite TED talks have included:
A neuroscientist describes her stroke
Amy Cuddy speaks about the importance of presence
A fascinating talk about statistics... no really!

Focusing on the events of the Nepal earthquake and its aftermath and the lessons learned around capacity building, Christine will speak about "Local Problems, Local Solutions". She will work with global health mentors, with Nadine Gall who is a digital storytelling expert, and with our GFF team to prepare. It will be amazing to get the message out about how incredible the local response was in Nepal and how listening to local ideas and being proactive instead of reactive can go so much further. Getting to a place of humility can make a person a better physician and global health practitioner.

If you can join us, along with eight other incredible speakers at the Jack Singer on June 26, you can purchase tickets here.

Myanmar Work

It was such a pleasure to work once more with the dedicated Myanmar Academy of Family Physicians. They are a team of volunteers who believe that an approach beyond the traditional way of completing medical school and commencing practice is important. They want to train the best quality of physicians for their communities.

Since GFF's last visit to Yangon, this group has made huge strides in defining what will be important for their residents to know. They have used the RCGP (UK) competencies but changed them to fit their local context and resources. Since most private clinics work mornings and evenings, this team has been meeting most afternoons to discuss these topics and to participate in faculty development workshops.

We ran a second set of three-day workshops this year, having done the first in September of 2014. This time, we used Child Health to discuss how the team would move from curriculum on paper towards a practical course that they could deliver. We talked about the best way to make sure their residents were on track to learn everything they should from the program, and to mentor them in new Family Medicine concepts such as patient-centered care, eliciting expectations, negotiating management plans, and having patients take responsibility for their health. They taught us that what we call "preventative medicine " is simply  "medicine", but regardless of where a family doctor works, it is a keystone concept. Teaching these families how to manage dehydrated babies, how to prevent the spread of stomach flu, and how to deal with common infant issues will help Myanmar gain better health for all.

GFF Events

GFF is becoming well known for hosting some of the coolest fundraisers in Calgary! We owe the huge success of our spin fundraiser in large part to the wonderful Kensington merchants who donated for the draw. We are grateful to Kismet clothing, Vero Bistro Moderne, Floatlife, and Yoga Therapy and Bodyworks. Also, of course, to the amazing team at YYC Cycle (who just opened a Marda Loop location); they can make sweating while spinning to beats so much fun!

Events planned for the summer will be the ongoing backyard concert series, we are hoping for a yoga-in-the-park event, and a brand new annual concept - the GFF Fun Walk and Run. This will be a family-friendly event at Glenmore park, on September 12th. We will have some fun and some educational activities for all ages, related to global health of course. We are looking for runners, walkers, dawdlers, and volunteers. Sponsorship packages are available, please email us with any questions about how you can participate!
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