Medical Council of Canada

Health Advocate

Health Advocate

Physicians have a role in disease prevention and in protecting and promoting, through advocacy, the health of the individual patient, communities, and populations. The physician may advocate individually or collectively. Advocacy can influence patient care, public health, and health policy. To achieve this goal, physicians need to understand the determinants of health, principles of health system organizations, and their economic and legislative foundations.

Acting in the patient's best interest, physicians are obliged to make appropriate health care available to their patients in a fair and equitable manner (distributive justice). There is a growing number of effective treatments, an increasing array of expensive technologies, but only finite health care resources. This means that physicians may have to make decisions based on ethical principles as patients' interests are balanced.

Objectives

  1. Identify the important determinants of health, the risk factors for illness, the interaction between the population and their physical, biological and social environments, and personal attributes, including:
    1. employment
    2. income
    3. social status
    4. culture
    5. social support systems
    6. education
    7. housing
    8. diet and exercise
    9. lifestyle issues
    10. gender
    11. genetics

    1. Assess and respond to the specific determinants of health relevant to the individual, the community, and/or the population
    2. Identify, respond to, and resolve conflicts between ethical, legal, and professional issues, including economic constraints and commercialization of health care and scientific advances
      1. Identify and propose fair means of resolving issues within the context of available resources

  2. Identify public policies and trends that affect health locally, nationally, and globally, and barriers to access for populations including persons with disabilities, the underserved, and the marginalized
  3. Know and understand the key issues in the Canadian health system and any relevant laws and legislation
    1. Assess and respond to issues in the Canadian health care system and advocate for patients at all levels