Dr. François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

Dr François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

Dr François Couturier in London in 2006

After devoting his career to underserved clients locally, nationally and internationally, Dr. François Couturier passed away on August 1, swept away by Parkinson's disease. In addition to having worked in humanitarian aid, the esteemed family physician has devoted part of his practice to perinatal care and people living with an opioid addiction. 

Dr. always helped people in vulnerable situations. Before becoming a doctor and professor of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke, he worked as a preschool educator in the community for five years, from 1980 to 1985. 

In 1994, he joined the Charles-Le Moyne Family Medicine Unit (UMF) as a family physician, where he devoted much of his practice to perinatal care and patients struggling with opioid addictions. . 

Dr. Couturier is also developing a new family medicine care offer to treat people with opioid use disorders in Quebec, which has led him to become a reference in the matter at the provincial level.  

Dr François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

Dr François Couturier in Costa Rica in 1992 (Courtesy)

International Involvement

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Dr. Francine Lemire, remembers Dr. François Couturier as “a very authentic man who walks the talk and acts on his values”. 

We are all saddened by his departure, knowing his degree of involvement both in family medicine, at the University of Sherbrooke and in Mali, where he was very active, as well as within the Center Besrour community.

Dr. Francine Lemire

Indeed, his involvement does not stop at the borders of Quebec: for more than 20 years, Dr. François Couturier has been involved in the development of family medicine internationally, particularly in the teaching of obstetric care in Mali. , Haiti and Uganda.

Over the years, he became a recognized leader in global health and led two major training projects for health professionals in Mali (DECLIC project) and (CLEFS project) through Sherbrooke University .  

This notably allows the creation, between 2010 and 2018, of a network of five university community health centers in Mali, inspired by the Quebec model of UMF. The project even serves as a springboard for the development of family and community medicine in West Africa. 

Social accountability with the Besrour Center  

According to Dr. Francine Lemire, Dr. François Couturier influenced the College of Family Physicians of Canada to make social accountability one of its most important considerations, that is, to “focus and plan the care of health while keeping in mind (and having the data if we are able to have them) the needs of the population”, in addition to treating vulnerable clienteles in the same way as the most affluent, she specifies.

In the same vein, Dr. Couturier has been, since 2010, one of the leading players in the creation and development of the Besrour Center, a place of international exchange dedicated to the advancement of family medicine to the ;worldwide.   

“The Besrour Center was officially created around 2013-2014 and Dr. Couturier continued to sit on the advisory committee of the Besrour Center as we developed the dimension, the strategy, the mission, the vision. He was really part of it all from the start,” says Dr. Lemire.

She considers herself “privileged to have had the opportunity to know him, to interact with him and to be informed and motivated through his involvement in social accountability both in Canada and around the world”. 

Today, the Besrour Center interacts and collaborates with approximately 35 countries and regions around the world.  

Dr François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

Dr François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

Dr François Couturier: a life dedicated to the most vulnerable

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