Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the World Healthcare Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The World Healthcare Forum aims to identify the major needs, best practices, and ways forward in organising better, more sustainable, and more accessible healthcare worldwide. The conference was organised by some of the GHMe people, and was aimed mainly at students and young professionals. Furthermore, many representatives from government, academia, and NGO’s were present, as well as professionals from e.g. pharmaceutical companies. Due to the mix of people from different backgrounds, it provided a great environment to network and meet different people. As an SYP getting ready to enter the job market shortly, this was a great opportunity.
One of the main topics which caught my eye during the conference was the session on access to care. The speakers were from very diverse backgrounds and were very knowledgeable on their topics. There were speakers with a research background, or from an NGO, but also speakers who worked for the pharmaceutical industry. One particular interesting example of public-private partnerships came from the presenter on the river blindness and ivermectine, who were awarded the Nobel prize in medicine and physiology in 2015. Ivermectine was discovered by a cooperation between Satoshi Ōmura from the Kitasato University, Tokyo and William C. Campbell of the Merck Institute for Therapeutic research. Ever since, it has been produced by Merck, who in 1987 declared it would donate ivermectin free of charge for as long as is needed. This donation is administered through the Mectizan Donation Program, which works with ministries of health and other partners to distribute the drug.
Another interesting topic to SYPs was the session on young leaders, moderated by Tikki Pang, who is also a mentor in the GHMe program. During the session the participants were divided into smaller groups and discussed several questions. These smaller groups were all moderated by several mentors of the GHMe program. The topic of discussion was the obesity epidemic and after a short discussion we shared our conclusions among the group. The great thing about this session was that it allowed young people to voice their opinions on topics and it was a great space to facilitate networking amongst the young professionals.