Andrew Watson is a Dalhousie nursing student who attended the Canadian Conference on Global Health 2014. Andrew’s insights from this event are so inspiring we wanted to share them all with you.
A collection of plenary addresses, symposia, orals, networking events and poster presentations over the course of the 3 days of the Canadian Conference on Global Health constituted a thought provoking gathering of the minds. The depth and breadth of subject matter being too vast to cover on this platform, I thought I would discuss a few highlights and key deliverables from a nursing student’s perspective.
1) Partnerships for Global Health
The overarching theme of the conference came shining through, time after time, across various disciplines and contexts. Intersectoral collaboration, public-private partnerships, academic alliances, from all corners of the world, were just a handful of the highlighted partnerships heralded as means of effecting real, sustainable change in developing contexts. As the world is a highly interconnected network of systems, we must draw on the strengths of partnerships in addressing global health issues from various lenses.
2) Avoiding the “patchwork approach”: Health Systems Strengthening, Social Determinants of Health, and Governance
Upstream thinking. It is impossible to ignore the context in which people are healthy or fall ill. The health systems and human resources that serve the health needs of populations, must be understood, analyzed and strengthened in order to provide for the most vulnerable among us. Paramount to individual behaviours, the social/economic/political contexts in which we live our lives are important factors in creating and maintaining health. It is an exhausting and inept goal to prevent diarrheal related deaths simply by rehydrating patients (although this plays a key role in reducing morbidity and mortality when needed) when the community as a whole lacks access to a source of clean water, and the government, reduced in their capacity to provide for their citizens due to natural/man-made disaster, does not receive the necessary aid from the underfunded and inadequately governed multilateral organizations on whom they have come to rely. We must look upstream to understand the factors truly at play in creating the conditions contributing to poor health outcomes for the populations we strive to serve.
3) Engaging communities in Capacity Building: “For us, with us”
Communities, varied in their composition and geographical distribution, are the key stakeholders in the projects discussed at this year’s conference. Impactful and sustainable initiatives require the recognition that communities are well aware of the issues affecting them, have a vested interest in improvement of their health status, and are central players in any development initiative. Empowering communities to take the lead on development and health initiatives engages them for the long-term and creates a shared sense of responsibility for and ownership of the outcomes.
In an era of globalization, advancing the global health agenda is all of our responsibilities.
To read post 1 in this series please click here.