Global health conference, “Global health in an unequal global village, how should the world respond”

“Global health in an unequal global village, how should the world respond

10th March 2018

Organised by the University of St Andrews African Caribbean Society (STA-ACS) and hosted by the school of Medicine’s Division of Infection and Global Health (IGH), the conference was the first in the African Lecture Series (ALS).  The conference brought together students and academics, from Universities, Dundee and St Andrews, and was addressed by speakers from within University of St Andrews, University of Oxford and the World Health Organisation.  Prof. Stephen Gillespie, head of IGH welcomed the conference to the school and said the St Andrews is the oldest yet youngest medical school in Scotland.  Referring to the Malawian doctors who were trained in St Andrews till 1995 when Malawi established its own medical school, Stephen said the school has always been globally focused even before global health became a topical issue.  Prof. Sally Mapstone, the Vice Chancellor and Principal of University of St Andrews gave a key note address reiterating the international nature of the University and its commitment to providing solutions to global challenges through teaching and research.  With 40% of the University student population coming from outside the UK, Prof. Mapstone said the University is committed to ensuring equality and diversity for both students and staff at the University of St Andrews.

Dr. Boris Pavlin of the World Health Organisation addressed the conference on epidemic intelligence emphasising the value and role of local community focused leadership, involvement of the youth and non-clinical professionals in responding to disease outbreaks.  He pointed out the importance of health system strengthening as pertains to preparedness and resilience is critical for early detection and management of disease outbreaks.  This requires long-term sustained investment, which unfortunately little or no funding is available at national and international levels.  Dr. Wilber Sabiiti of the University of St Andrews highlighted the need to involve African and other LMIC researchers in constructing research questions in order to increase sense of ownership and uptake of findings into policy and practice.  Dr. Patricia Kingori of the University of Oxford educated the conference on what counts ethically in research and how to qualitatively assess performance research programme and healthcare interventions.  Facts on the ground during the West African Ebola outbreak and response was addressed by Ms Khadija Bah who served as lead anthropologist in the WHO Ebola response team.  Khadija said effective and culturally sensitive communication and operational strategies are crucial when responding to disease outbreaks.

Established in 1994, the STA-ACS is a student society bringing together students from Africa, the Caribbean and their Diasporas.  They aim at facilitating greater awareness and understanding of, and raising the profile of Africa and Caribbean on matters of socioeconomic development within the global context.