Saturday, October 6, 2012

Helen MacMurchy

Pioneer physican, health advocate, public health reformer

Born in 1862, died in 1953.

Began her medical career in private practice.

Had a lasting and meaningful impact on health care in Canada as a public health activist who specialized in women's issues.

Was a leading advocate of public health reforms in Canada in the early years of the 20th century.

Became the first chief of the federal Department of Health's Division of Child Welfare in Ottawa. She occupied this position for 14 years. At the time, this was the highest position then open to a woman in the Canadian public service.

Wrote the first childcare advice literature produced by the Canadian Government. In writing the Little Blue Books, she balanced the need to impart important medical advice to Canadian citizens while speaking to the reader in simple and plain language.

Was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1934, and named one of the 10 leading female physicians in the western world in 1949.

Helped found the Canadian National Committee on Mental Hygiene (later renamed Canadian Mental Health Association).

Was designated a national historic person in 1997, recognized for her contributions through her infant mortality reports, her career at the Department of Health and her series of books offering advice to mothers.

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