With offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, the GI Society supports Canadians with a full range of resources in the sorely neglected gastrointestinal health area. Gail Attara began in 1996 as Executive Director of the organization’s sister charity, the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research (CSIR). She led the organization from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period since inception in 1976, before co-founding the GI Society in 2008 and now serving as its president and chief executive officer.
Gail’s motto, “The patient comes first,” directs her leadership of the GI Society, as she advocates on behalf of patients to promote patient-focused health care and for a wider public awareness of digestive illnesses that affect as many as 20 million Canadians.
Government, non-profit, media, medical, and corporate stakeholders in GI health regularly seek out Gail for consultations and speaking engagements from coast to coast, where she is known for captivating listeners with her straightforward and engaging style.
Gail has a sound background in public relations and fundraising, and she is also a published freelance author and artist. She is an active community volunteer in Canada and overseas, currently serving as Chair of the Best Medicines Coalition (www.bestmedicines.org), a patient-centred non-profit organization.
During a recent collaboration with Dr. Mike Evans of My Favourite Medicine, who curates the best health information found online, Gail spearheaded the development of an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) video (www.badgut.org/ibd-video-1.html) to explain this complex condition in an easy-to-understand format. She has several more projects in the planning stage with My Favourite Medicine.
With the dedicated support of the GI Society’s dynamic board of directors, Gail continues to cultivate the organization’s outstanding national reputation, fiscal health, and growing impact.
The GI Society
As the Canadian leader in providing trusted, evidence-based information on all areas of the gastrointestinal tract, the GI Society is committed to improving the lives of people with GI and liver conditions, supporting research, advocating for appropriate patient access to healthcare, and promoting gastrointestinal and liver health.
The GI Society’s core programming supports a full range of GI conditions – from inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids, upper GI tract conditions such as functional dyspepsia and GERD, liver conditions, and many more.
An enormous number of online visitors – equalling millions of hits every year – rely on the essential GI resources at www.badgut.org | www.mauxdeventre.org. Canadian health care professionals request more than 550,000 patient information pamphlets for their patients each year, and thousands of Canadians benefit from the GI Society’s important quarterly publication, the Inside Tract® | Du coeur au ventreMC newsletter. The GI Society organizes patient support groups, and its BadGut® Lecture Series takes place in communities across the country.
This area of medicine is severely underfunded and underserviced, and it is generally not socially acceptable to discuss gastrointestinal or liver issues in the same way one might mention, for example, a heart or lung condition. With these persistent stigmas, many people suffer in silence – sometimes for years – without seeking medical attention. For some of these individuals, contact with the GI Society is their first step toward receiving validation, information, and further resources to pursue the care they require.
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