Ontario's doctors give a day's pay for AIDS



    Doctors go beyond the medicine bag to help international cause

    TORONTO, Nov. 30 /CNW/ - Hundreds of doctors from more than a dozen
health centres across Ontario will be lending their support to World AIDS Day
tomorrow by contributing to the Give a Day to World AIDS campaign.
    "Being able to contribute as a group to the HIV/AIDS relief effort brings
a sense of community to the doctors and allows each of us to give something
beyond our medical expertise," said Dr. Philpott. "It's something that is so
easy to do, but still makes a valuable impact by providing financial support
and raising awareness about the issue."
    According to UNICEF, 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in
sub-Saharan Africa and that number is expected to grow to 18 million by 2010.
In 2006, there were 24.7 million people living with HIV in the region and 85
per cent of children worldwide who are infected with the disease live there.
    Started in 2004 by Dr. Jane Philpott, an Ontario family physician, the
campaign grew out of her colleagues' overwhelming desire to do something to
help those with HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She challenged her
colleagues to donate a day's pay to an AIDS charity and in one day raised
$33,000. Having grown exponentially since its inception, the campaign hopes to
raise $750,000 this year.
    Dr. Philpott has seen the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS first-hand,
having worked with her family for nearly a decade at a hospital in West Africa
where she treated patients suffering from the disease. The Give a Day
campaign, which has grown to include lawyers, teachers and members of the
business community, is an outlet for making a statement of support for the
improved health of people around the world.
    "Doctors inherently want to give back to the community and this provides
them with a means to help in areas of the world where they cannot physically
lend their medical skills," said Dr. Janice Willett, President of the Ontario
Medical Association (OMA). "It's great to see the amount of support that
doctors and other professionals have given to this worthy cause."
    Doctors like Neena Prasad have also been very supportive of the
initiative. Having returned from Lesotho in 2006, where she treated patients
with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Prasad encouraged her fellow doctors at St. Michael's
Hospital in Toronto to participate in the campaign and last year she raised
$20,000.
    "It's such a simplistic way to make a difference," said Dr. Prasad.
"Instead of working for yourself for a day, you're working for your broader
human family."
    Give a Day is challenging every Canadian to recognize World AIDS Day by
giving one day's pay to an organization that will use the money well in the
fight against AIDS. Further information is available at www.giveaday.ca.





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For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or
toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862


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