Global Health: What We're Learning

April 19, 2011

This past weekend I participated in the Global Health & Innovation conference sponsored by Unite for Site and hosted by Yale University.  The conference discussions were for me a ‘check’ on what I’d a written a few months back on Global Health trends.  Here are a few of my observations from the conference:

  • Issues have indeed become more integrated – under the umbrella of ‘global health’ conference presentations included discussions of agriculture, climate change, education, and mobile technology among other topics.
  • Cross-sector discussions and partnerships
  1. We often talk about cross-sector partnerships as including NGOs (very broadly defined), private sector and government.  A significant actor in the global health/international development arena that can span NGO and private sector communities are universities. The conference underscored how much research and program implementation work is university based.  We don’t often recognize how many international development/global health initiatives come out of, interact with, or reside on university campuses.
  2. The conference brought together the NGO and social enterprise communities in a way that is becoming more common, but again not widely done.  With “social good” being the intersection, NGOs tend to come at global development from the mission perspective, social entrepreneurs from the business perspective, and the language to talk to each other is still new and somewhat shaky.  There is, however, a growing cadre of practitioners who span both networks and are working on the communication challenges and learning from each other.
  • What’s we’re learning –  The more we share lessons learned from global health interventions,  the clearer it becomes that we have learned a lot as a global community in the past decade.  Hopefully we can continue to place more priority on knowledge sharing hubs so this knowledge sharing can become easier and wider spread.  It’s time to focus less of our attention on the what and more on the how.