Dr. Jan Christilaw

The Vice President, Provincial Women’s and Newborn Health, PHSA is championing women’s health initiatives, both at home and abroad.


Leading the change she wants to see in the world is something that resonates deeply with obstetrician Dr. Jan Christilaw. As Vice President, Provincial Women’s and Newborn Health, PHSA, Christilaw has become a renowned champion for women and newborn health provincially, nationally and globally.

Christilaw is currently heading up an initiative at BC Women’s called Power to Push, which aims to reduce the prevalence of caesarian sections by helping women make more informed decisions regarding childbirth.

“In BC close to 30 per cent of women [giving birth] are having caesarean sections,” says Christilaw. That’s too high.

“For every woman who’s had a C-section the first time, manyof them will be able to successfully deliver vaginally the second time,” says Christilaw. “We're here to help them do that.”

On the provincial front, Christilaw is co-chair of the Provincial Breast Health Strategy (PBHS). Her mission is to increase the rates of mammogram breast screening among eligible women in BC from 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

Christilaw says that breast cancer remains a leading cause of death among women, making access to early-detection screening a top priority. It’s part of a strategy Christilaw knows will save lives.

Globally, Christilaw is working to improve access to healthcare for women in the developing world, where alarming numbers of women and babies still die in childbirth.

“BC Women’s has the power to lead the world in new possibilities for obstetrical care,” says Christilaw, who has helped forge a unique partnership between BC Women’s and Makerere University in Uganda.

Thanks to Christilaw’s tireless efforts, Makerere University Hospital now uses BC Women’s obstetrical expertise to train its physicians in emergency childbirth. It’s a program that has the potential to prevent some of the  thousands of maternal deaths that occur in Uganda every year.

“I really do think of BC Women’s as a beacon,” says Christilaw. “We want to show the world what can be done to support women’s health.”

Written by Jessica Werb