Dr. Ruth Abaya
Dr. Ruth Abaya – Attending Physician in the ER at CHOP & Program Manager for Injury Prevention Program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
As of October 4, 2022 data from the City of Philadelphia shows that the number of shooting and homicide victims under the age of 18 is already more than doubling since 2105 and equals the combined totals from 2015 and 2016. Gun violence is a health crisis, affecting underserved communities the hardest, and Dr. Ruth Abaya is studying the factors that are contributing to this crisis for our youth. "There's an analogy in public health in which people say, 'Medicine is pulling people out of the stream one by one, and public health is fixing the bridge so that they don't fall in in the first place.' And that's what I felt was needed in the world of gun violence prevention," Ruth says.
A native of Nigeria, Ruth came to Ohio for her undergraduate degree from Bluffton University. She then received an MD and MPH from Northwestern University, with a residency at Boston Children's Hospital and her fellowship training at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). During a one-month ER rotation during that Ruth saw the same young patient twice with gunshot wounds. He survived both times, but it made Ruth question how the system had failed him to have been shot twice in one month.
As a pediatric emergency medicine fellow, Ruth's research focused on identifying risk factors for firearm carrying and common carrying practices among a cohort of adolescents. Currently serving as a Stoneleigh Fellow with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Ruth was a Philadelphia Citizen Integrity Icon in 2020. She is working to create a registry of individuals who have experienced fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries in Philadelphia to identify the most promising practices for violence prevention and intervention in the city. Ruth serves as an attending physician in the Emergency Department at CHOP and as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. A practice-based scholar of CHOP's Center for Violence Prevention, Ruth is also the program manager for the Injury Prevention Program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which promotes opportunities for youth that minimizes exposure to violence, while studying the factors that contribute to that violence. Amember of the National Medical Council on Gun Violence, Ruth has presented on gun violence prevention nationally.
Growing up Nigeria, Ruth knew that she wanted a career in medicine when she saw a child being born. Keeping those children alive and creating a safer community where they can thrive is now her missionand one that she believes is attainable with the right evidence-based policies.