Role of Government and Global Health in Era of Budget Cuts Focus of Global Health Meeting in DC March 14-16

“We’re at a crucial time point in the role of the U.S. government supporting global health efforts and the role universities are playing in global health.” --Thomas C. Quinn, board member of Consortium of Universities for Global Health

By Bobbi Nodell
UW Medicine/ Health Sciences

Washington, D.C. Feb. 6, 2013  --– More than 1,500 global leaders, researchers, policy makers, educators and students from around the world will come together in Washington, D.C. March 14-16 for the fourth annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) conference to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the world, including the role of global health in the era of budget cuts.
director of the Center for Global Health at Johns Hopkins University.We are hosting this meeting in D.C. in order to bring the thought leaders of global health together with government leaders in global health.”
A session on March 14 will include a panel with Eric Goosby, head of the new Office of Global Health Diplomacy; Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control;  U.S. Rep. John Porter (R-Ill.); and Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense.
A special session earlier that day will address the role of the NIH in global health research.  And a special panel March 16 involving actress/activist Ashley Judd will address the Crisis in The Sahel, a swath of countries in Africa (Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon and northern Nigeria) faced with growing terrorism.
Keynote addresses will be given by Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health; Agnes Soucat, vice president of the African Development Bank; Agnes Binagwaho, minister of health in Rwanda; and Susan Scrimshaw, president of The Sage Colleges in New York.
Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet; Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies;  Harvey Feinberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, (a prestigious advisory group for the U.S. government); and George Magoha, the president of the University of Nairobi, are among the many speakers.
Also, Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, will discuss findings from the massive Global Burden of Disease study published Dec. 14 in The Lancet involving 500 researchers around the world.
“Our global health conference is an extraordinary opportunity to deal with the challenges facing all of us,” said Keith Martin, the executive adviser for the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and a former member of parliament in Canada.
Panels will involve a wide range of global issues, including what Martin calls the “tsunami of noncommunicable diseases” worldwide – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders. Panels will also address animal-to-human transmission of diseases, which accounts for 70 percent of new infectious diseases;  the global surgical deficit (both a lack of surgeons and lack of anesthesia); climate change; drug addictions; and poor oral health.
“We want to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and create conditions so people don’t gravitate towards extremism,” said Martin.
Martin said a big focus of the conference is on implementation – bridging the gap between knowledge and action.
“We have a huge chasm between what we know and our ability to implement that knowledge to benefit the most vulnerable abroad and here at home,” he said.
The Consortium was founded in 2008 to bring together the rising number of global health programs at universities around the world following the passion of students who are demanding more equity in the world. Today, the Consortium has more than 120 members and is well-positioned to work with the U.S. government, which believes that stronger and more stable nations abroad mean a stronger and more stable America

For a full list of speakers and details on the 45 sessions, please go to www.2013globalhealth.org.