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SYPs at the SNIH annual conference

On Friday and Saturday 20-21 November 2015, the 2nd annual conference of The Swedish Network for International Health (SNIH) was held at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Here I met a few people from the GHMe program. Some first time meetings and some I had the pleasure of meeting for the second time. As a SYP in global health, the conference was a great opportunity to meet people, network and have interesting discussions, for example about whether it is possible to achieve health equity. In fact, this was also the theme of the conference, ‘health equity in an unequal world’.

GHMe represented at SNIH 2nd annual conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Left to right: Silvia Segovia Chacón (GHMe SYP), Kati Wilkins (GHMe SYP), Simone Mohrs (SNIH Program co-ordinator), Suvi Ristolainen (Program developer), Eva Swaaij (GHMe SYP), and me, Maaike Droogers (GHMe SYP).

For all SYPs, who were not at the conference, I would like to share with you three points that came up during the conference and that made me think:

Firstly, some ‘did you know that’ facts related to the theme of the conference, ‘health equity in an unequal world’:

  • Did you know that health inequity in the world is smaller than economic inequity in the world?

  • Did you know that health inequity within countries is always less than between countries?

  • Did you know that one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is devoted to inequalities i.e. number 10 “reduce inequality within and among countries”? Also SDG 4 and 5 pinpoint the importance of equality in education and gender.

  • Did you know that a critique on the millennium development goals (MDGs) is that they lowered averages but may have increased inequities?

Secondly, food for thought from Hans Rosling’s presentation. All enjoyed Rosling’s presentation at the SNIH conference. For me it was quite recent that I had the joy of experiencing a presentation by Hans. This was just three weeks before the SNIH conference, during the global health night at Karolinska Institut. Hans’ main message is always clear; advocating the truth about global health by looking at the facts. During the SNIH conference Hans presented some facts about vaccination and eradication. ‘Listen to the poor people, what is on their priority list?’, Hans asked the audience. The eradication of smallpox through effective immunization programs is a commonly mentioned global health victory. This is definitely a truth, but another truth is that for the poorest people vaccination is low on their priority list. Rather, poor people list vaccination as somewhere in their top 50 of priorities.

To complement the successful outreach of immunization programs there are so-called ‘plus’ programs. The plus indicates that other services and/or resources are provided when visiting remote areas for immunization programs, such as distribution of vitamin A supplementation and distribution of treated bed nets to help prevent malaria. The formulation of ‘immunization plus’ programs is striking. This suggests that immunization is prioritized and then there is also some other – secondary – aid provided. However, considering the priorities of poor people, immunization should be complementary in a program and aid that is in their top 5 needs should be leading. So why do we have ‘immunization plus’ programs and not ‘programs plus immunization’?

Lastly, speak up! Share your ideas, opinions and views on global health by blogging. Blogging allows you to take some time to formulate what you want to say. This can be especially useful when you are young in the field and perhaps do not have your ideas and opinions ready on the spot. Blog about your ideas and opinions on global health and share them with the world!


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