March 9, 2012

Students uncloak ‘hidden topics for April 27-29 global health conference

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

UW students from across disciplines have come together to create a conference about  issues they feel are critical but largely ignored in global health. The organizers hope to  bring a new direction to the global health agenda.

The 9th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference,  “At a Crossroads: Choosing Hidden Paths in Global Health” will take place at the UW April 27-29.

The conference will focus on marginalized, underserved populations around the world and will include topics on health care as a right, global mental health and economic inequality.

Nilesh Singit/Disability News WorldWide

The conference will focus on marginalized, underserved populations around the world and will include topics on health care as a right, global mental health and economic inequality.

“We are trying to identify topics in global health that get marginalized and elevate them at our event,” said Colleen Fulp, the graduate student lead organizer of the event.

The keynote speaker is acclaimed human rights advocate and thought leader Kavita Ramdas, the executive director of a newly launched program on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University.  Her talk is titled, “Nothing Less than a Revolution: Why I’m Preoccupied with Inequality, Social Justice and Health.”

“Kavita was chosen by students because she is a visionary who believes in grassroots organizing as a way of changing the world,” said Daren Wade, director of the Global Health Resource Center, the networking unit within the Department of Global Health. “She addresses topics of women as agents of social change, peace building, and human rights and her work is such a match for the areas in global health our students want to showcase in this conference.”

The keynote speaker will be human rights advocate Kavita Ramdas, the social entrepreneurship program director at Stanford University.

The keynote speaker will be human rights advocate Kavita Ramdas, the social entrepreneurship program director at Stanford University.

The conference, co-sponsored by more than two dozen universities and colleges along the West Coast and Canada, is organized around six tracks – global mental health, marginalized populations, organizing and funding of global health, clinical issues in global health, communications and technology in global health, and the environment and global health.  Within these tracks are 18 breakout sessions with some of the top leaders in global health in this region.

More than 25 UW undergraduate and graduate/professional students across disciplines have been organizing this conference.

Wade said students are interested in challenging speakers on the direction of global health and will be encouraging attendees to ask the presenters tough questions.

“Our students really are the driving force in global health and its so exciting to see them shaping the agenda and sharing their priorities in the field of global health,” he said.

Three evocative plenary panels covering global health diplomacy, funding and the future of global health; global mental health; and global health and the environment will also be presented.

Speakers include Jaime Sepulveda (UC-San Francisco), Timothy Brewer (McGill University), Guy Palmer (Washington State University), Judith Wasserheit (University of Washington), Jurgen Unutzer (University of Washington), Deepa Rao (University of Washington), Paul Bolton (Johns Hopkins University), Benita Beamon (University of Washington), and Lori Hunter (University of Colorado at Boulder).

Sixty abstracts touching on a wide  variety of topics were accepted as posters. Thirty will be displayed per day on Saturday and Sunday.

Among the many breakout sessions, topics include “The Understudys Role: Global Healths Next Challenge;”  “Non-communicable/Chronic Diseases;” “Super Powers in Global Health;” “Trauma and Conflict in Global Health;” “Health Care, A Human Right?” “Utilizing Storytelling and Multi-Media Tools in Global Health;” “The Environment and Food and Water Security;” and “Improving Global Health with New Technology.”

Poster for the Saturday event on how occupy movements might improve lives on a global scale.

Poster for the Saturday event on how occupy movements might improve lives on a global scale.

Saturday evening, the event, “Testify, Demystify, Electrify, Occupy!” will be presented in conjunction with the Global 99 group on campus to address the ways occupy movements have the potential to improve the lives of people on a global scale. A closing session will address how we can move “Beyond Good Intentions” in global health and showcase ways participants can take action in ways that make a difference and consider important ethical concerns.

Registration is $50 for students and medical residents and $100 for community members. For more information and to register, please go to www.wrihc.org