Canadian Medical Assocation

Dr. William Cherniak

Dr. William Cherniak

Although he currently practises emergency medicine on the outskirts of Toronto, Dr. William Cherniak may be having the greatest impact on health care a world away, in Uganda.

He is co-founder and chairman of the board at Bridge to Health Medical and Dental, a Canadian charity working in southwestern Uganda. Bridge to Health is a passionate group of medical and dental professionals aiming to provide sustainable medical and dental care in a cost-effective manner. Although currently operating in rural communities in Uganda and Kenya, the charity is looking to expand their work to Rwanda and Namibia, as well as First Nations reserves in northern Ontario.

Dr. Cherniak remembers one of the first moments he decided to get involved in providing care in developing nations. He was in Tanzania, as a first-year medical student, and saw a patient having open abdominal surgery with only local anesthetic, which wasn’t working.

“It was a nightmare to observe and I thought: this shouldn’t happen,” he says.

His commitment to health care in developing nations is also reflected in other ways. As a clinical assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, he has designed and implemented three 10-day courses in rural Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania for students in the Master of Science in Global Medicine program. He’s also developed a course in global health entrepreneurship and one in the integration of medicine and social media.

“I live a double life,” says Dr. Cherniak. “I love clinical work, especially in the ER, and I also love program and administration work, with Bridge to Health.”