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Residents' Corner


Joshua Greenberg
Joshua Greenberg

Long before his undergraduate medical training at the University of Toronto, first year resident in General Surgery Joshua Greenberg did a foundation year in philosophy and literature, during which he read Plato’s Republic and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality. These works sensitized him to social injustice and structural violence as later described by the American physician - anthropologist Paul Farmer. Of his decision to specialize in surgery, Joshua remarks, “This is an exciting time to be able to get the wide breadth of training surgery offers and apply it to the complex issues of equity, access, and infrastructure development that threaten healthcare today.” Joshua’s Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science is from the University of British Columbia and his Master’s work in molecular oncology and international development was done at U of T. The research was published in Cancer Research.

Joshua has done International Development work for 10 years with UNAIDS, UNDP and other NGO’s. He has worked in Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and several other sub-Saharan countries. He performed needs assessments, researched and addressed issues of knowledge translation with multinationals, and worked at a teaching hospital with UNICEF along the Zambia-Zimbabwe border during the height of Zimbabwean political upheaval. The Zimbabwean refugees, displaced from their homes and deprived of their antiretroviral agents as they fled the country, made a lasting impression on him. “It fascinated me to see the quality of healthcare some countries were able to provide their people through intelligent organization of their infrastructure while other countries, often wealthier, where unable to accomplish the same feat by monetary investment, alone.”

Joshua’s plan is to contribute on an international scale, using surgery as the springboard. He chose to specialize in surgery because of the versatility surgical training provides, as well as the research highlighting the cost effectiveness of basic surgical intervention in resource poor-settings. He would like to learn more about the structure and delivery of healthcare internationally through elective studies abroad. There are many Toronto links to the developing world which he finds inspirational. The Toronto-Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (TAAAC) led by Clare Pain of Mount Sinai Hospital is of particular importance (see also: http://www.surgicalspotlight.ca/Article.aspx?
). Clare Pain has shown us how to train future physicians, even in a resource-poor and clinically under-served setting. There are now 16 disciplines that have picked up on her pioneering work in psychiatry. With the TAAAC, Joshua worked on the pre-trip cultural sensitivity training program and the ethical framework for large-scale cross-cultural collaboration. He has also worked with “Peace through Health” from McMaster, a program that promoted similar principles as the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. This concept of reframing war as a health care issue has been applied with great success to vaccination campaigns credited with ceasefires in wartorn countries like Sudan, Sierra Leone, and the DRC “as the one time when warring factions came peacefully to the table, recognizing their common humanity and their need to protect their children from disease.” Joshua has taken several courses in this area of study, and his mentors include Clare Pain and Joanna Santa-Barbara at McMaster.

Joshua was a high level competitor in volleyball and beach volleyball. As a ‘weekend mountaineer’, he has climbed Kilimanjaro and to the base camp of Mount Everest. He is currently reading Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa, a book which spans five decades in the political history of Uganda.


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