Last month, George Washington University’s School of Public Health
hosted its annual “Mini-University
”, a day-long conference showcasing novel approaches to improving global health.
The conference featured seventy presentations
on topics including child marriage, monitoring and evaluation, fistula, urban health (with Wilson Center Global Health Initiative Senior Advisor Vic Barbiero
), contraceptive security, male circumcision, XDR TB
, nutrition, water and sanitation, gender, and the effects of the brain drain.
A few of the presentations looked at the relationships between conflict and health. One notable presentation
(see #12) looked at the transition from relief to development in post-conflict states, examining best practices for strengthening health systems in these settings. Drawing on examples from Liberia, Afghanistan, and Sudan, the presenters discussed what the health priorities should be, how to execute them, and acknowledged the difficulty in accomplishing these tasks in such difficult environments.
The population, health, and environment (PHE) field was on display as well. Along with Johns Hopkins Ph.D. student Yung-Ting Kung, I (ECSP Program Associate Gib Clarke) presented “Is the whole better than the sum of its parts? Operations research design and initial evidence from integrated population and environment projects.” I offered background on integrated PHE programs, as well as a PHE case-study from the Philippines, I-POPCoRM. Kung’s presentation reported findings from statistical analysis of the Madagascar Environmental Health Project, with the goal of determining whether family planning and conservation outcomes are significantly better when services are delivered in an integrated PHE program than when they are delivered in isolation.
Though the conference sought to inform graduate students of the variety of new approaches being developed, the number of seasoned professionals present indicated that many members of the public health field recognize the importance of innovation. That monitoring and evaluation was emphasized throughout the day, and that many time-tested programs were on display as well, however, showed that in many cases new energy and commitment—not new technology or strategies—is what is needed.