By Tim Kalinowski on January 26, 2017.
Medicine Hat resident Nicola Gale has been chosen by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC) as one of its 2017 Top 30 Under 30 for her work in community health.
Gale is currently in her fourth year at the University of Alberta in the Pharmacy program. She is also the co-president of the Students Invested in Health Association (SIHA), a student-run organization that aims to promote health through community engagement. Through this program, Gale spent 11 weeks working in Tanzania to identify community-driven solutions for local issues including malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, and access to clean water.
Gale says to understand the total health of a person, you need to understand their social situation.
“Socio-economic status is one of strongest predictors of health,” she recently told the News. “In the health-care field we spend a lot of our time talking about disease and physiology, but the strongest predictor of health outcomes, a lot of the time, is food security, income, education, employment, and the strength of the social safety net surrounding the individual. So if we want to have our biggest bang for our (health-care) buck, I think as health professionals we have to address some of these other things that affect health.”
Gale said her work with SIHA has broadened her perspective to show her how “health care works in the real world.” She also credited her family for planting the first seeds of this understanding.
“We grew up talking about these issues, and the understanding that there are certain inequalities that can be addressed, and it’s important you address them when you come from a position of privilege,” said Gale. “I have grown up with a lot of privilege so I think part of my responsibility is to use my power to address some of these inequalities that I see in my community and in the world.”
Gale is honoured to be chosen by the ACGC for this recognition, and to be recognized alongside so many other worthy recipients.
“These people have done some amazing things. I am definitely humbled to be chosen next to them,” she said.
Gale will be profiled with the other recipients in the ACGC’s “2017 Top 30 Under 30” magazine coming out during International Development Week (Feb. 5-11).