“I completed my residency at an inner-city hospital in Toronto. I worked with refugee populations and people with mental illness and substance use issues.”
"I completed my residency at an inner-city hospital in Toronto. I worked with refugee populations and people with mental illness and substance use issues. I became really interested in how we can better support marginalized and vulnerable groups. I’d see so many opportunities for prevention. When people were in the late stages of their disease, I’d think, ‘What could have been done to avoid that?'
Prevention goes beyond an organ or a person’s body. You can’t just look within the walls of a hospital or clinic. Housing, education, food security, transportation – there are so many interconnections when we look at health. When it comes to mental illness and substance abuse, we have to remove the stigma and recognize these as medical problems, just like we do when someone breaks a bone or is diagnosed with high blood pressure. This means questioning our perceptions and looking at the whole person. For people with loved ones who are suffering, the first step is to create a safe environment and listen without judgement.
Outside work, I enjoy acrylic painting. Having moved to B.C. recently, I’m inspired by the natural beauty in the Lower Mainland. Painting landscapes allows me to relive forays into nature and unwind."
- Dr. Aamir Bharmal, Medical Health Officer and Medical Director for Communicable Disease and Harm Reduction.