2004• Health

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A graduate from Witwatersrand University medical school, Cheryl Ann Levitt was born in South Africa in 1951.

She completed her internship at Baragwanath hospital in 1976 during the turbulent and traumatic Soweto uprising.

In 1997, she and her husband —human rights lawyer Andrew Orkin— relocated to Canada for a year of graduate study at UBC. Cheryl practiced as a rural GP in BC and became involved in anti-nuclear and peace activism.

In 1983 Cheryl and her young family were part of the first Physicians for Social Responsibility peace mission to the U.S.S.R. at the height of the Cold War.

In 1984, Cheryl was recruited to McGill University as a full time faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine. She also served as Education Coordinator, Unit Director and Chief of the Department of Family Medicine, at the Sir Mortimer B Davis Jewish General Hospital. While continuing to a practice family physician, Cheryl was also responsible for training family physicians.

She served as national Vice-Chair of the Canadian Institute of Child Health, Co-Chair of the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, and Chair of the College of Family Physicians of Canada Task Force on Child Health.

In 1996 she became Chair of the Department of Family Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University and was promoted to Tenured Full Professor in 1998.

In 2000 Cheryl co-authored a major article in the Lancet Medical Journal on the subject of medical migration, and worked closely with the South African High Commission in Ottawa to highlight the ethical issues involved and to contribute to global standards on medical recruitment from underdeveloped countries. She has worked closely with a number of South African women physicians on the advancement of Family Medicine in South Africa, and has contributed to international development work in the Baltic states and elsewhere

Cheryl has worked on numerous provincial committees in Ontario promoting improved primary care, including the Physicians Services Committee - responsible for joint planning between the government and doctors. She is Chair of the Board of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, and will serve as President of the College in 2005-06. She conceived of and obtained funding for the successful Maternity Centre of Hamilton, an innovative multidisciplinary model, as well as being a founding member of the Family Medicine Association of Hamilton. She was a pioneer in the primary care reform movement in Ontario, and continues, through various projects, to display her commitment to improving health care in long term care facilities.

Cheryl has published research, numerous articles, books, chapters and reports, and has spoken and taught locally and internationally on family medicine and women's health.