#OnCall4Syria: A local health advocacy initiative

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Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has forced millions to flee their homeland. Over 4 million Syrians are currently seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, with an additional 7.6 million people internally displaced. The United Nations considers this the worst refugee crisis in twenty years and an adequate international response is imperative. With the newly-elected federal government recently pledging to accept over 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next few months, the opportunity for impacting the lives of our newest fellow Canadians is palpable.

An example of a local health advocacy initiative 

In Hamilton, Ontario, local residents have banded together to help our new fellow citizens!  As healthcare professionals we are often responsible for the overall well-being of our communities. Although there are multiple health clinics dedicated to providing comprehensive care, many of these establishments lack the resources necessary to match their current needs.  The Hamilton community has a long standing tradition of helping our city’s most marginalized and offering barrier-free healthcare to those in need. For refugees fleeing this conflict, the journey to health and safety is too often perilous. With your support, we can help refugees get off to a healthy start, and remind the world that our community remains committed to providing equitable healthcare for all.


The “On call for Syria!” campaign is a fundraising initiative being launched by residents at McMaster University. They are looking to raise funds to support the efforts of Refuge HCNH and are counting on residents, staff physicians, healthcare workers and our fellow community members to help out. The funds will be used to increase the capacity for Refuge to provide support for the newcomer community. They would like to invite residents to consider donating a call stipend, and encourage them to reach out to their attending physicians to match these donations. In fact, we invite all members of the community and healthcare providers, including nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, administrators etc., to donate the equivalent of a resident’s 24-hour call stipend.

A Challenge from the CanadiEM.org team

Let’s make this movement go viral!  The CanadiEM.org would like to challenge resident/physician/healthcare communities across the country to start similar initiatives all across Canada. Find a local organization that you can support in your city by reviewing the list on the Government of Canada website or make a general donation to the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund coordinated by the Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion. If you respond to this challenge or are part of a resident / physician / healthcare community that is raising funds to support Canadian newcomers, let us know in the comments and we’ll feature you in this post!

If you’re from Hamilton (or even if you’re not), consider donating to the program that our local residents have set up!

Specifics about the Hamilton #OnCall4Syria program

The Hamilton residents have chosen to support the Refuge: The Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health (HCNH) is a non-for-profit organization founded in 2011. Its purpose lies in breaking down barriers to healthcare access too often faced by this population, in order to address their primary and specialized healthcare needs. Refuge continues to provide multi-disciplinary care for patients due to the ongoing dedication of involved clinicians and volunteers. In light of the Syrian Refugee crisis, increased support from the Hamilton community is crucial in allowing Refuge to maintain its commitment to providing high quality healthcare to the city’s newcomers and refugees.

Donation Options:
1) In-Hospital call: $116.00
2) Home call=1/2 In-Hospital call: $58.00
3) Other: Donate any amount and show some love 🙂

Please donate generously and contribute to our ongoing efforts. Don’t forget to visit our website at: www.newcomerhealth.ca
NOTE:  If you are a healthcare provider, please indicate your department in the “Description” section when you donate.

For any questions or further information, please feel free to contact fundraising leads:

Dr. Abubaker Khalifa ([email protected])
Dr. Anushka Weeraratne ([email protected])


Sameer Shaikh

Sameer Shaikh

Sameer Shaikh

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Teresa Chan

Senior Editor at CanadiEM
Emergency Physician. Medical Educator. #FOAMed Supporter, Producer and Researcher. Chief Strategy Officer of CanadiEM. Associate Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, McMaster University.