DLSPH welcomes Ophelia Michaelides as Manager of the Centre for Global Health

February 10/2020

Ophelia Michaelides joined the Dalla Lana School of Public Health as Manager of the new School-wide Centre for Global Health on January 27, 2020.

Ophelia is a public health professional with experience in global health, health system strengthening, family medicine and primary health care. Through her previous management positions at the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Cancer Care Ontario, she has significant experience building globally influential communities and partnerships.

Prior to joining DLSPH, she was manager of the Besrour Centre for Global Family Medicine at the College of Family Physicians of Canada. In this role she created and led a global community of more than 300 family medicine champions around the world and fostered relationships with the World Health Organization and World Bank.

Ophelia holds a Master of Health Science in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as a Microbiology degree from the University of Guelph. She has a strong interest in global health, international development, public health, health equity, health policy and social justice.

In the role of Manager of the Centre for Global Health, Ophelia will work closely with Associate Professor Erica Di Ruggiero to establish the Centre as an interdisciplinary knowledge hub that supports research and education initiatives in universal health coverage through equitable health systems strengthening.

Specifically, she will be responsible for elevating DLSPH’s educational offerings in global health by managing interdisciplinary capacity building training programs, creating global institutional partnerships, and evaluating centre programming.

To read more about Ophelia’s experience and interests, check out this Q&A by Rabani Rekhi:

Can you describe your current role at DLSPH as manager of Centre for Global Health?

“I am really looking forward to beginning my role here as the manager for the New Centre for Global Health. Having been a part of a startup Global Health Centre in the past, I am very excited to learn more about and build upon the rich tapestry of global health activities at the DLSPH and beyond. I look forward to working with colleagues to bring together the various research, education and partnership activities into a global health home at the DSLPH, where ideas and partnerships can flourish. My role will include a strong focus on supporting global health learners through new and existing research and educational activities across the educational continuum. Another important focus of mine will also be evaluating our impact.”

How did you decide you wanted to enter into Global Health work? Were there any pivotal experiences that helped shape that decision?

“My decision to enter Global Health evolved alongside reflections in my academic, professional and personal worlds. My studies initially started in the bench sciences as a microbiologist. However, I quickly came to realize that my interests lay more with people than with Petri dishes. And so began the reframing of my thinking on a larger scale and my eventual connection and study of population health during my Masters’ degree. I value the constant expansion and re-framing of perspectives that my studies and professional development brings me, however, there are certainly pivotal moments that I carry with me that continue to remind and reaffirm my passion and commitment to global health. One such experience was during a fairly recent visit to a regional health clinic in a rural village in Western Kenya. It was mid-afternoon in the sweltering heat, and a fourteen-year-old girl was laying in the clinic, alone and in labor. It was an intensely emotional moment for me, bearing witness to a young girl’s pain while watching her put her full trust in the health system available to her when she needed it most. Health for all should not be negotiable, and this is why we must continue to work together to achieve this.

Having worked as a Senior Policy Research Analyst at the Ontario Renal Network / Cancer Care Ontario and Manager at the Besrour Centre for Global Health, what recent trends have you seen in the Global Health field that people should be aware of?

“Having been a part of various healthcare organizations over the years, I think applying a health equity lens to our work in global health is very important. Disparities in health are often rooted in the larger structural constructs of our societies and as global health practitioners, we have the tools to tackle difficult societal challenges through interdisciplinary approaches (since global health is interdisciplinary by nature). I realize that applying a health equity lens is not a ‘trend’ per se, but certainly an important perspective that global health practitioners should consider and build into their frameworks.

You have been a disaster management volunteer at the Canadian Red Cross for many years now, what have you found to be the most challenging/rewarding aspects of that job?

“My professional life often allows me to explore problems at the meso- and macro-level. My work with the Red Cross invites me into the micro-level through one-on-one care. As a personal disaster volunteer for the Red Cross, we are often called to the scene of residents in the GTA requiring immediate relief from a personal disaster (fire, flooding, etc.). Often times, individuals have lost everything. My role as a volunteer is to provide immediate and short-term needs, however, I find the most rewarding aspect is the emotional care that comes along with bearing witness to hardship. To be heard by someone, or simply to be in the presence of another, during trying times can go a long way in the impact we have on one another.”

What is your favorite place/s to visit in Toronto?

“I’m a Torontonian and living in the West End. I love visiting High Park and going for a run through it at sunrise (if I manage to wake up that early!)”

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

“I am currently reading “Frying Plantain” by Zalika Reid-Benta”