Health Jam at Magnolia

Reading Time: 2 minutes

On March 31 the UNB HIV/Aids Initiative presented Health Jam II at Magnolia Cafe in Saint John.

The event featured a panel discussion with Dr. Barry Watson, Dr. Tim Christie, and Dr. Duncan Webster and was attended by around 20 students and community members.

Topics loosely centred on the social determinants of health, the experience of healthcare professionals addressing these issues in Saint John and the effect of food supply on health in the Saint John population.
“The purpose of the health jam is to engage health care-related students into practical reasoning and networking,” says Juliana Prestes, who co-ordinated the event.
Dr. Barry Watson, a health economist at UNB Saint John, spoke about supply demand framework for health care, making illustrations about how an individual’s economic position often trumps their pursuit of health.
“If you are struggling to put food on the table, you probably aren’t going to be worrying about whether you have high cholesterol or not,” said Watson pointed out.

Dr. Webster works with HIV population in Saint John and stated, “social determinants of health are a very critical thing in what will determine the level of health attainment.”

Webster spoke about practical results of social determinants. “You have to look after the whole patient,” he said, talking about their surroundings and social issues to promote good health.

“We are trying to take the health care system to the patients.” Webster says referring to the Saint John Aids clinic which is located uptown in order to be more accessible.

Dr. Christie, who is the Director of Ethics Services for Regional Health Authority B in New Brunswick, spoke about clearing up the bottlenecks affecting the methadone clinic in Saint John.

He also talked about his experience on the downtown eastside in Vancouver and moving these lessons to New Brunswick.

The discussion moved on to challenges faced by refugees in Saint John.

Dr Christie spoke about putting ourselves in a refugee’s shoes of having to give up everything.
“Canada funded this war and created the situation in Syria…the result of our political choices is the displacement of 4 million people … 25,000 [refugees] is a drop in the bucket”.

Watson talked about how people often ask economic questions about refugees, stating, “it doesn’t matter which side of the equation the cost and benefits fall…sometimes we need to do things for the sheer humanity of it.”

There was also some musical performances throughout the night to break up the discussion and provide a change of medium, “I wanted to demonstrate, especially to premed students, that it is interesting to have different interests and backgrounds to get into medicine,” says Prestes who also organizes the pre med experience program at UNB Saint John.

“Our student body is still developing this mindset when comes to valuing networking for educational purposes,” says Prestes.
All in all the event was a success and Prestes says that these are plans to hold another Health Jam and hopefully bring it back up to campus.