The ninth of fifteen children in a small town in Maharashtra, India, Chandrakant Shah managed to attend medical school through diligent study, sometimes under an oil lamp. He arrived in Canada in 1965, where he joined the School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. In Canada he was immediately struck by the inequities in health and social services for the underserved and the Indigenous populations. Throughout his professorship, he worked tirelessly to draw attention to the plight of these populations and to existing inequalities in Canada's institutions. He also made important contributions to the teaching of public health in Canada and wrote the first comprehensive textbook on the subject that is now in its sixth edition.
About the author
Chandrakant P Shah, Professor Emeritus at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, is a retired physician, public-health practitioner, and advocate for improving the health and well-being of marginalized groups in Canada. He was a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, the University of Toronto from 1972-2001. After he retired from the University, he worked at the Anishnawbe Health Centre Toronto from 2001-2016, where he provided primary health care to Indigenous people in Toronto; he also conducted research on urban Indigenous health issues. His research and advocacy work on employment equity had a profound impact on Canadian universities' hiring policies.
He initiated many changes in Canadian society, including amendments to the citizenship examination to include substantial content on Indigenous history. For many years he was actively involved with the development of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in public health. His important work in developing teaching objectives in medical schools has been vital to their curricula. His textbook, Shah's Public Health and Preventive Health Care in Canada, was the first of its kind and is a unique resource widely used in universities.
The University of Toronto has established in his honour the CP Shah Alumni Award of Excellence in Public Health, the Queen Elizabeth II/CP Shah Graduate Scholarships in Science, and the C P Shah Award to a resident in Public Health and Preventive Medicine for the best research in fieldwork.
"What a journey, what a life! Chandrakant Shah is a towering figure in Canadian Public Health. In addition to mentoring scores of colleagues, trainees, and students over the course of his impressive career, his work has far-reaching impact on not just health policy, but also broader social issues, especially those relating to inequalities, discrimination, and marginalization." --Kue Young, Professor Emeritus, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and former Dean, School of Public Health, University of Alberta
"To Change the World intertwines the personal and professional stories of a Canadian physician with a relentless commitment to improvement and equity. Chandrakant Shah's passionate story shows a model Canadian story of an immigrant physician who wins professional success while focusing on making the country more inclusive and more just. His story is a good remedy for these cynical and polarized times." --Adalsteinn Brown, Dean, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
"This book imparts what it means to understand and support Indigenous health in Canada. Chandrakant Shah's intellect and sense of humour shed light on every topic he touches. His story will entrain, inform, and sometimes shock readers; this is an important text in public health that aims to shift the discourse and the paradigm." --Suzanne Stewart, Director of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto