Women Physicians Change the World – Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell

Medical women have a long history of domestic and international humanitarian aid. In the nineteenth century, it was physicians attached to missions who brought western medicine and science to such locations as India and China. The 20th century, with its two world wars and continuing military conflicts, led to an exponential rise in humanitarian need and healthcare became a foundation of international humanitarian aid.

The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded in the 19th century, Médecin Sans Frontières in the 20th. The health effects of migration, extreme weather events, earthquakes and other natural disasters are driving the 21st century humanitarian response. In 1994, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies developed standardized, stand-alone units, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) in rapid response to catastrophic disasters. In the years since, ERUs have set up over 200 disaster teams in locations all around the world.

Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell is a Canadian family physician whose career exemplifies the 21st century humanitarian turn to provide emergency health care for people caught in extreme weather events, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

A professor and global health coordinator in the department of family medicine at McMaster University, Dr. Redwood-Campbell has provided humanitarian care after the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, in 2005 after the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, in 2010 in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, and in 2015 in Nepal after the devastation of the earthquake; just some of the locations where Dr. Redwood-Campbell has served as a member of the Canadian Red Cross International Emergency Response Unit. More recently, she has been awarded the 2018 Ontario Medical Association Presidential Award for “exceptional long-standing humanitarian service to the greater community” and for “helping to resurrect the public health infrastructure”. The Award “expresses the highest qualities of service by a physician”. An award well-deserved.

Dr. Redwood-Campbell completed her BScN and MD degrees at McMaster University and holds a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (UK) and a Masters in Public Health from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She was the driving force behind the development of a curriculum framework for global health in family medicine in residency education, pulling together a collaborative team of global health faculty from across Ontario’s medical schools.

Her academic work sits at the intersection of humanitarian health care, immigration, and ethics She has explored the ethics of treatment decision-making in resource-limited situations, seeking to understand how health care workers process difficult decisions in the face of highly contextual concepts of treatment failure. Her research with immigrant women and cervical cancer screening asks how screening programs can effectively influence a population considered difficult to reach because of language and cultural challenges. Dr. Redwood-Campbell has conducted an evaluation of a gender-based violence prevention intervention in humanitarian settings in the Middle East and Africa; an exploration of attitudes and behaviours towards research in disaster areas; considered how to scale up emergency response to meet primary care needs in pandemics and other disasters; and examined ethics and humanitarian health practice and policy.

In an interview posted on the Canadian Red Cross Blog, Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell spoke about arriving on Haiti as part of the International Red Cross ERU:

We saw huge needs in villages and towns and down the western coast and people desperate for help…. We were the first to arrive in many of the places we visited, so while we were assessing the devastation to the medical clinics and other infrastructure we were also handing out relief items, shelter kits and hygiene items to very grateful people. … The destruction we saw was incredible.

Dr. Redwood-Campbell reminds us that local health care workers, the doctors and nurses who are the true first responders are also victims of the disaster:

I give enormous credit to these health professionals who stick with it, despite extremely adverse conditions. We have to remember that everyone in these communities is affected. Every doctor and nurse I met, nearly every Haiti Red Cross volunteer I met, is a hurricane survivor. But they still come to work every day to help others in need, even though they lost their homes too, even though they have no roof over their heads or food. I have enormous respect for them.

The FMWC is honoured to have Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell as the Saturday keynote speaker at the 2018 FMWC AGM and National Conference. The title of Dr. Redwood-Campbell's presentation will be "Making a World of Difference: Working in the Humanitarian World".

We invite you to join us in Toronto, September 21-23 2018 at the Intercontinental Yorkville Hotel, Toronto. Preconference workshops on media training and #MeToo in the medical workplace, conference sessions on the latest in women’s health and women in medicine and an evening at the Bata Show Museum for socializing and forging friendships.

Registration is open. Register early to avoid disappointment. You can find more details at: https://fmwc.ca/2018-agm/


You can find a list of Dr. Redwood-Campbell’s publications on her faculty profile in the department of family medicine, McMaster University.

Canada Red Cross