Doctors, faculty, students and staff from Dalhousie University and around Atlantic Canada gathered on Tuesday, May 3 to take part in the fifth annual Global Health Research Forum, a symposium that addresses issues and progress in local, global and international health.
The event consisted of speeches and workshops that dealt with topics ranging from global health mentorship to building research capacity within health systems. The Forum was organized by Dalhousie’s Global Health Office, with collaboration from the Canadian Society for International Health, the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, the University of Prince Edward Island, Memorial University and Dalhousie University.
Shawna O’Hearn, Director of the Global Health Office, believes the event was a huge success. She says the Forum is a venue where researchers and others interested in global health can meet and converse with each other.
“One goal is for people to get to know each other. A lot of times when we are in the midst of our research and our work we tend to not know the other players. We thought: ‘let’s bring everyone together to hear what’s happening in global health research,’” says O’Hearn. “Another goal is to support new researchers in global health. This is an opportunity for people to think about how they can tag their research into the global health arena.”
The day was bookended by two special guest speakers. First Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, talked about his organization’s steps towards improving health and well-being in developing countries by integrating scientific, technological, business and social innovation. Dr. David Wilkinson, Dean of Medicine and Head of School at the University of Queensland School of Medicine, spoke during the closing ceremonies about the advancements his university is making in the realm of global health.
Dr. Wilkinson stressed the importance of global health research and the commitment needed to become a global health organization.
“I think it’s fair to say that if you’re going to be a global school, you’re going to need a global faculty, you need an international faculty, and you certainly need a curriculum that teaches global health,” says Dr. Wilkinson. “I would argue that you need a diverse student body and a lot of student exchange. I think some key international partnerships are really important, and, indeed, an international presence.”
Aside from the speeches and workshops, participants were able to peruse the Graduate Student Research Day poster and platform presentations, which are a collection of students’ research displayed in the halls of Tupper Link on Dalhousie’s campus.
The event was capped off with the 2011 Global Health Awards ceremony. Alyson Holland, a Med IV student who has led many global health activities, received the Dr. Ronald Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health. Dr. Sabina Nagpal, a resident in psychiatry who focuses on mental health capacity in Guyana, received the Dr. TJ Jock Murray Resident Award. Dr. Stan Kutcher, a Dalhousie professor of psychiatry and a leader in numerous organizations and global health initiatives, received the Dr. John Savage Memorial Award for Faculty Excellence.
Not only was the Forum a productive event for faculty and researchers, it was also a valuable learning experience for students. Margaret Schwartz, a health promotions student, says she learned a lot from the experience.
“I would definitely recommend others to attend the Forum,” says Schwartz. “It was a fantastic eye-opener and it really enhanced my knowledge of global health and what is being done to improve it.”
So what should we expect for next year? O’Hearn says she’d like the Forum to be even more inclusive.
“It would be nice to have some of our international partners involved in the Forum. Because it shouldn’t just be about the capacity in the Atlantic region, it should also be about what’s happening with our partners around the world,” says O’Hearn. “I really like having everyone come together.”
“Interprofessional Education, Mentorship and Research with Partners in Guyana”
In this workshop, participants discussed the student rehabilitation program, the post-RN psychiatric mental health nursing program and Guyana’s family, surgical and mental health systems.
“Strengthening Mentorship with Faculty and Students”
In this workshop, participants discussed key concepts of mentorship, Dalhousie’s experience with global health research mentorship and CCGHR’s role in collaboration.
“Local Global Health Education: Evidence and Practice Together”
In this workshop, participants discussed a student-led course that addressed the health of socially marginalized communities in Halifax, the services available to address the needs of these communities and how to integrate principles of health equity and social accountability into students’ careers.
“Establishing a Global Health Program”
In this workshop, participants discussed the opportunities and best practices within the Canadian university environment specific to global health, the tools and resources required to sustain a global health program and the collaborative partnerships within Canadian universities that stimulate and nurture global health.
“Building Research Capacity within Health Systems (Using Examples from Brazil, Jamaica and Zambia)”
In this workshop, participants discussed current health worker retention and recruitment strategies in two districts in Zambia, as well as the alignment of existing health worker competencies with the health needs of the people in these districts.
“Hidden Elements with Global Health Research”
This workshop consisted of four presentations of ‘hidden elements’ in global health research:
Dr. Ellen Hickey – “Why should we care about speech-language pathology services in developing countries?”
Emily Zinck – “Keeping peace abound: How do we tell these children that there is another path of Kenya?”
Vanessa Donnelly – “Diabetes: The new health crisis in Tanzania?”
Reddi Sekhara – “Mid-term evaluation of NRHM policy in tribal community in India: Cultural sensitivity in health services”
Opening Speaker: Dr. Peter A. Singer
Dr. Singer is, among other things, the Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. He spoke about his organization’s steps towards improving health and well-being in developing countries by integrating scientific, technological, business and social innovation.
Closing Speaker: Dr. David Wilkinson
Dr. Wilkinson is the Dean of Medicine and Head of School at the University of Queensland School Of Medicine in Brisbane, Australia. He spoke about the advancements his university is making in the realm of global health.
The Global Health Awards were also handed out at this year’s Global Health Research Forum. The recipients are:
Alyson Holland – The Dr. Ronald Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health
Dr. Sabina Nagpal – The Dr. TJ Jock Murray Resident Award
Dr. Stan Kutcher – The Dr. John Savage Memorial Award for Faculty
Thanks to all our partners, presenters, speakers, facilitators, volunteers, staff and participants. See you next year!