Health Equity Interdisciplinary Development Initiative (HEIDI)

Dr. Helene Berman, Dr. Nadine Wathen, Dr. Elysée Nouvet, along with Dr. Vincent (University of Rwanda and the Rwanda Psychological Society) will be leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers on a new initiative: Health Equity in Context: Local Solutions for Global Problems.

Health Equity in Context (known in shorthand as ‘HEIDI’) is an Interdisciplinary Development Initiative, which is an internal Western University seed funding program that initiates research endeavours that involve the participation and collaboration of individuals across disciplinary boundaries.

This exciting new project, catalyzed by CRHESI, will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Rwanda and Rwanda’s University of Global Health Equity.

Abstract for Health Equity in Context

Rising inequity has been identified as perhaps the most pressing challenge facing humanity. It is a “wicked” social, political and economic problem impacting individuals, communities, nation-states and broader societies. No region or country is immune, and solutions must be sought collaboratively, from a diversity of perspectives, geographies and social locations. Disparities in health status are an immediate manifestation of rising inequity, and the site for the present proposal, which is a direct response to a convergence of inter-related challenges and opportunities arising in London, Canada, and in Kigali, Rwanda. Catalyzed by the Centre for Research on Health Equity & Social Inclusion (CRHESI), the proposed interdisciplinary development initiative (IDI) will launch new activities for CRHESI’s community and academic members, in partnership with the Rwanda Psychological Society and Rwanda’s University of Global Health Equity, to: 1) develop cross-national education and research opportunities specific to local and global health equity, and pre- and post-migration trauma and health; and 2) global/local knowledge mobilization pathways to ensure that best practices in addressing health inequities are shared bilaterally. This proposal’s strength is its people and the formative work we’ve done building partnerships. Projects will be led by teams of Canadian and Rwandan faculty, community and organizational leaders, and students. To enable community-engaged learning, we will create a CRHESI Student Fellowship Program, providing a range of opportunities for Western and Rwandan students to work with organizations to gain valuable experience and provide their time and skills in places where this kind of help is needed. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in student-led sessions linked to conferences and a Summer Institute. These educational endeavours will be supported through partnerships with Western International, the two Rwandan Universities, and enhanced graduate and undergraduate offerings at Western, which specifically focus on health equity.