Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MGH Center for Global Health Hosts Inaugural Symposium

Day-long Event Draws Physicians, Scientists, and Policy Makers

Goosby, Gwenigale, Bangsberg, Farmer, Kerry, and Slavin

On Friday, November 12, the MGH Center for Global Health hosted its inaugural global health symposium at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Entitled Broadening the Response: The Role of Academic Medical Centers in Global Health, the day-long event drew global health leaders from around the world as well as prominent U.S. officials including Senator John F. Kerry and U.S. Ambassador and Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby. Speaking to a crowd of more than 1,000 attendees, MGH Center for Global Health Director David Bangsberg, MD welcomed the group and outlined the need to build lasting international partnerships.

"We will make progress in the short term, but the challenges in global health are too complex to solve in a single generation," he said. "This is why above all else we need to invest in the next generation here and more importantly invest in the next generation abroad to make a generation-spanning difference."

The day's events began with remarks from MGH President Peter Slavin MD, and Jeannette Ives Ericson RN, senior vice president for Patient Care Services and chief nurse. Calling to mind the 2011 bicentennial anniversary, Slavin reflected on the hospital's 200 year commitment to serve the community.

"At the time of the MGH's founding, our neighbors included the residents of Boston and its surrounding communities," he said.  "Today, our neighbors also live in places like Uganda, South Africa, Liberia, Bangladesh, Haiti, and elsewhere. And while our neighbors may live in different places, our commitment to serving them remains the same."

Invited speakers--including Kerry, Goosby, Liberian Minister of Health Walter T. Gwenigale, MD and Paul Farmer, MD, co-founder of Partners in Health--offered remarks and participated in a panel discussion moderated by Bangsberg. Panelists took questions from the audience and discussed various ways academic medical centers, non-governmental organizations, and government officials can partner with local health leaders around the world to develop health infrastructures to help train and retain the best caregivers abroad.

The first panel discussion, called Practicing Global Health Across Disciplines, highlighted the importance of strong working relationships with local populations.  Panelists included:

Peter Mugyenyi, MD, director of the Joint Clinical Research Center, Uganda; David Henderson, MD, director of the MGH Division of Global Psychiatry; Kristian Olson, MD, global health program leader at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology; Larry Ronan, MD, director of the MGH Durant Fellowship in Refugee Medicine; and Bruce Walker, MD, director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

The day's final discussion, Training the Next Generation of Global Health Leaders: Sustaining Careers at MGH and Abroad, was moderated by Vanessa Bradford Kerry, MD, associate director for education and external affairs at the MGH Center for Global Health. Participants included Grace Deveney, RN, MPH, of the Center for Global Health; Tayyaba Hasan, MD, director of the MGH Office of Research; Frederick Kayanja, MD, vice chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda; and Thumbi Ndung′u, MD, director of HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.

"The symposium was a great opportunity to bring together some the foremost leaders in global health," said Bangsberg. "Each of our invited speakers and guests engaged with each other in a provocative manner to create a new energy and perspective on global health."

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