York’s Health Leadership & Learning Network attracts Chinese delegates

The Faculty of Health’s professional development group, Health Leadership & Learning Network (HLLN), created and launched a global program – Canadian Health Care Management – that attracted 25 key Chinese decision-makers to York from the city of Chongqing. The delegates included hospital presidents, CEOs and high-ranking government officials eager to learn about the Canadian health-care system and its policies.

Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner says, “Our curriculum will equip delegates with the necessary knowledge to assist in reforming the current privatized health-care system in China. By the end of this program, they’ll have had a 360-degree exposure to the Canadian health-care system at a very high level.”

Right: York Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner presents a gift to Kejia Liu, deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Health Bureau, at a graduation ceremony earlier this month in Chongqing

The curriculum, created by Lesley Beagrie, associate dean of Professional & Global Programs in the Faculty of Health, is customized for the foreign delegates and covers topics such as Canadian patient safety, health policy, informatics and emergency management, as well as many others. Delegates are faced with the continual struggle that comes with trying to provide health care in China where numerous citizens cannot afford it. Chongqing citizens must purchase health-care insurance privately.

“Insurance is their only means of access to health care. Currently, less than 10 per cent of public government spending is on health. The government builds public hospitals, but does not cover the cost of providing the health care. With a population of over 30 million people, only a small proportion of people can afford health insurance in Chongqing. This is staggering information,” says Tania Xerri, HLLN’s director of research and partnerships.

It is from this need that York University’s HLLN program has collaborated with Chinese leaders including the deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Health Bureau, Kejia Liu. He has attended the HLLN program with the aim of potentially emulating Canada’s health-care system.

Professors at York University are building a relationship with Chongqing’s delegation holding the shared message – a unified system for all.

“We can help them achieve that,” says Xerri. “The delegation feels that they have built a relationship with us that they would like to continue and we’re very pleased that we’ve been able to offer them something that’s very worthwhile.”

York’s presence in China is long standing, with many programs offered through various Faculties and the Asian Business & Management Program.

During the welcoming ceremonies on Nov. 25, Lorna Wright, York’s associate vice-president international, paid tribute to Norman Bethune, a humanitarian and controversial Canadian health hero who aided China during their war against Japan in 1938.

A vast portion of China’s good impression of Canada is due to Bethune’s memory. Bethune, honoured by a college at York University, is also the namesake of the health division of Jilin University in China. It is estimated that more than 30,000 health-care professionals have graduated from the Bethune health program in China.

Skinner, recently returned from a Chongqing visit, says, “The Health Leadership & Learning Network has developed international relationships beyond the classroom and has used their educational expertise to spark change on a multinational scale.”

For more information, visit the HLLN website.