In November a high concentration of ITM alumni and staff was noticed in Vancouver, at the West Coast of Canada. This majestic city hosted the Emerging Voices for Global Health-training (Emerging Voices are also known as EVs or EV4GH) , the EV pre-conference and the 4th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research.
Four ITM alumni were part of this edition of the EV venture, Esteban Londoño Agudelo (MPH-HSMP 2010) from Colombia, Joël Arthur Kiendrébéogo (SCPOL 2014) from Burkina Faso, Shahabuddin ASM (QMM 2014) from Bangladesh and Romelei Camiling (MPH-HSMP 2016) from The Philippines. The EV training focused on research communication and content related to the Symposium’s theme on ‘resilient and responsive health systems for a changing era’. During the pre-conference, which is a sort of rehearsal for the Symposium, EVs prepared a sneak preview to promote their respective sessions, gave an attractive oral presentation, organised fishbowl discussions and presented a poster. Seniors commended the EVs for the quality of their work and recommended them to keep on asking the right questions, to dig deeper in topics and to remain open-minded. Professor Wim Van Damme added his four points of advice: EVs should acknowledge that the world is changing fast and their work should be based on facts and evidence, rooted in local realities and … not boring. They lived up to that!
ITM is no longer in the driving seat for the organization of the EV training, but remains a partner in this multi-partner venture. The Institute of Public Health in Bangalore, India (IPH), is now in the lead and also hosts the EV secretariat. EV4GH has become a thematic working group of Health Systems Global, and a representative EV governance team (mostly consisting of EV alumni, and chaired by Prashanth NS (MPH-HSMP 2008, PhD)) is in charge of overall direction of the network. Several ITM alumni, together with ITM and IPH staff and other former EVs, took up a facilitator role in the 2016 EV training. Elena Vargas (MPH-HSMP 2014, SCRH 2016) from Nicaragua, Ariadna Nebot Giralt (MPH-HSMP 2015) from Spain and Radhika Arora (MPH-HSMP 2014) from India coached the EVs in research communication. Raoul Bermejo (MPH-DC 2010) from The Philippines and Jean-Paul Dossou (MPH-DC 2014) from Benin contributed to the ‘Evidence to policy’ sessions. Raoul also helped coordinate the pre-conference.
At the Symposium, the EV4GH thematic working group held a business lunch session and an organised session with testimonies of EVs and EV governance members and a lively debate on the theme “From Emerging Voices to Emerged Leaders: building capacity and negotiating power in our field”.
ITM staff, together with EVs and alumni were in charge of several organised sessions:
- “Engaging with complexity in health policy and systems research: experience from applying three complex-sensitive approaches” with among others Prashanth NS (MPH-HSMP 2008), Sara Van Belle (ITM), Tanya Seshadri (IPH), and Paul Bossyns (ICHD 1994, PhD, BTC)
- “How well is your UHC system learning? A collaborative multi-country assessment” with among others Bruno Meessen (ITM), Isidore Sieuleunou (MPH-DC 2007), Joel Kiendrebeogo (SCPOL 2014)
- “Stewardship at 16 – coming of age or arrested development? Perspectives from Benin, Ghana and India” with among others Bruno Marchal (ITM, ICHD 2000), Aku Kwamie (EV), Karel Gyselinck (CIPS 2001), Sara Van Belle (ITM)
- “The political economy of resilient health systems: an emerging discourse” with among others Majdy Ashour (SCPOL 2012, QMM 2012) from Palestine and Remco Van de Pas (ITM)
At the marketplace of the Vancouver Convention Centre courses of ITM and the Harmonization for Health in Africa - Communities of Practice were promoted. Numerous old and recent alumni from all corners of the world found the time to catch up on their health systems research and professional experience in between sessions. Last but not least, EV and ITM alumni and staff had the chance to network and exchange ideas at a very well-attended informal dinner.
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