This year’s Global Health Conference was hosted by The Center of International Child Health and the University of British Columbia. Unlike previous years, it took place virtually on January 28th, 2021 and brought together global health researchers, clinicians and students to discuss global child health beyond the pandemic.
The conference kicked off with opening remarks by the co-chairs Gina Ogilvie and Mark Ansermino. Participants were welcomed with a brief introduction of the conference theme, and the particular emphasis on how imperative it is to look at the vast inequities in child health that have surfaced during the pandemic.
This was followed by the first keynote speaker, Linda Nyondo-Mipando (Deputy Dean of School of Public Health and Family Medicine in Malawi) who presented on health system perspective and building blocks post pandemic. She very eloquently broke down the primary health care system and service delivery in Malawi. Proposing that part of the solution is to enhance existing surveillance and strengthen risk communication and community engagement. She ended her talk by referring to the gaps in Malawi’s health system insisting that changes at a higher level should be backed by evidence, emphasising the need for quality improvement techniques to guide those changes.
The second keynote speaker Agnes Binagwaho (Vice Chancellor - University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda) presented on Reimagining Global Health Education to Support Children. During her talk, she pointed out that the pandemic has not ‘created’ but ‘exacerbated’ many detrimental impacts in children’s mental health, education and economic wellbeing. To prepare for future pandemics, she insisted that we need a healthcare workforce that can tackle various dimensions of health. Agnes shared inspiring insight of how students at the University for Global Health (UGHE) in rural northern Rwanda learn first-hand about disparities by living and working in rural communities.
The dual-degree program offered at UGHE enables future physicians to substantially improve the quality of training and competency of their practice to strengthen patient care and improve national and global collaborations.
The keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion on health system perspectives along the continuum of global child health. The panelists were Linda Nyondo-Mipdando, Jeffrey Goldhagen and Steven Hoffman, and was moderated by Gina Ogilvie. The key takeaway was to improve metrics and indicators to measure positive health outcomes for children globally, by improving measures for critical determinant outcomes. It was also emphasized that we need to come up with strategies to promote health for youth and recognize that major changes will be needed in order to recover from the pandemic.
At the conference, there were a number of students that took part in a poster competition to highlight their global health research and initiatives. This year, students were asked to submit Better Poster presentations that were to be showcased in under 2 minutes followed by 3 minutes of Q&A from the audience.
This was followed by a second panel on clinical perspectives in the context of global child health during the pandemic. The panelists were Tanya Rogo, Srinivas Murthy and David Goldfarb moderated by Mark Ansermino. Panelists agreed that there needs to be more infrastructure devoted to testing in resource limited settings to identify and diagnose severe infectious diseases. We should also strive for diversity and equity in the global health field.
The event ended with closing remarks from Gina Ogilvie and Mark Ansermino followed by a group picture of all the attendees. Overall, the conference provided an excellent platform for passionate global health researchers, trainees, and practitioners to be exposed to multifaceted discussions on strengthening the global child health.
Video recordings of the conference will be available to watch on https://www.bcchr.ca/global-health-conference
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