05/25/2012 09:05 EDT | Updated 07/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Stephen Lewis praises Saskatoon program for health clinics in schools

SASKATOON - Social activist Stephen Lewis is commending efforts being made in Saskatoon to base health clinics in inner-city schools.

Lewis told a child health care conference Friday that the work being done by Dr. Maryam Mehtar of the University of Saskatchewan is "ground-breaking."

Mehtar has driven efforts to implement health-care solutions within core schools in Saskatoon.

Lewis says the problems of poor health are often linked with wealth disparity.

He says dealing with social determinants such as housing, income, and food security will lead to better health.

Mehtar says she receives validation every day from the children and the community but to be recognized by Lewis, a former U.N. ambassador and special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, is gratifying.

"It's amazing that someone with his integrity, his character, and certainly his standing in the international community would recognize (the program)," she said.

Mehtar said that many problems that Lewis addressed regarding wealth disparity she experiences every day.

"The aim is to provide access to care for children who live in poverty," she said. "It's looking at all aspects of the child's health… to provide access to services within the community and within the schools to children we know receive inequitable health."