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Number 5 [2012] Leaders in International Health Program

July, 2012

  Leaders in International Health Program Edmundo Granda Ugalde  




I. Introduction

The International Health Bulletin is a publication developed by the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program (LIHP) of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). The purpose of the Bulletin is to contribute to the dissemination of information on international health issues among Program participants and other relevant actors who work in the areas of public health and international relations, enabling them to learn more about the LIHP, as well as relevant issues and opportunities related to international health.  

This issue of the bulletin reflects back upon the 2011 LIHP year, as well as forward to the 2012 Program. Included are descriptions of country projects as developed by the 2011 LIHP participants in conjunction with the national authorities and PAHO/WHO Country Offices of their respective countries, as well as participant testimonials from 2008-2011 describing the work participants have undertaken since completing the Program. Additionally, the bulletin reports on the 2012 LIHP academic team meeting.


II. Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program 2012

The 2012 Opening Ceremony for the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program took place virtually on 17 April 2012, with over 100 people participating from 21 different countries both within and outside the Region. The bilingual event included opening remarks from PAHO staff members, Ms. Annella Auer, Dr. Rubén Torres, and Dr. Charles Godue, as well as the Assistant Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Dr. Socorro Gross Galiano, and a keynote presentation by Dr. José Romero Teruel, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The speakers welcomed the new cohort and emphasized the importance of developing strong leaders in international health to confront 21st century public health challenges in an increasingly globalized world.

This year, there are 40 selected participants representing 20 different PAHO member countries. This dynamic group was selected out of almost 200 applicants from 29 countries. The participants come from many diverse institutional and academic backgrounds, including the health field, international relations, law, social sciences, environmental sciences, economics, veterinary medicines, engineering, and others. 

Throughout the nine-month Program, participants are able to interact with each other, tutors, mentors, and outside collaborators to form professional networks while debating current events and completing learning activities in each of the Program’s virtual modules. Additionally, the Program requires participants to develop a country project relating to a real-life priority public health issue in their country or region that they present upon culmination of the Program. Participants also apply the knowledge gained from the modules and other learning activities to the project. In this manner, the Program’s virtual learning activities reinforce one-another and help participants develop competencies that will better enable them to address the evolving challenges in international health.

More information on the 2012 cohort, their country topics, and the development of the learning modules will be provided in the next International Health Bulletin.


III. Country Projects 2011

As noted in previous bulletins, development of the country project by participants is considered to be an important applied part of the LIHP.  This experience allows participants to identify and analyze a particular problem or situation related to public health in their country, sub-region or region from an international health perspective; delve more deeply into the international determinants and commitments surrounding the issue; and propose solutions or actions that resolve or improve the situation, giving preference to those which require collaboration and intersectoral or supra-national agreements.

The 2011 cohort developed a total of 28 country projects, which included the following topics: international cooperation, human security, health systems, indigenous health, migration, environment, chronic diseases, urbanization, mental health, sub-regional integration and medicines.

The final results of these projects were shared during a series of virtual sessions that took place between 12 and 23 December, 2011. Attendees of the session included: participants from PAHO/WHO Country Offices, national authorities (ministries of health, international relations and others), academic institutions, international organizations, participants from other LIHP country project teams, tutors of the learning modules, mentors and the LIHP coordination. These encounters allowed participants to see the results of the projects undertaken by their peers, possible interventions to be developed and to discuss how to guarantee continuity in contributing to this knowledge and lines of action.


IV. Meeting of LIHP Academic Team in Guatemala

The meeting of the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program (LIHP) academic team took place in Antigua, Guatemala from 14 – 16 November, 2011. 

The main objective of the meeting was to undertake an evaluation of the LIHP from 2008 to date, including a review and analysis of its conceptual model of international health and its educational proposal, which will contribute to planning for the LIHP 2012 and its projection towards the future.  To accomplish this, the meeting brought together the coordinators of the learning modules, some tutors, the mentors, the LIHP coordinator and the coordinator of the Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH).  To prepare for the meeting, reports for each learning module and the mentoring process were prepared and previously submitted to facilitate discussion and debate.  Therefore, the meeting was able to address the majority of the planned agenda items: selection criteria of participants, methodological proposal of the VCPH and its relationship to the learning modules, adjustments to the conceptual model of international health, the role of mentors in the development of the country projects, as well as the use of the Interactive International Health Rooms and their relationship with the communities of practice.  The results and recommendations from the meeting have been consolidated into a report and have served as the basis for introducing improvements into the Program this year and as a guide for the future.


V. Reflections from former Program Participants

Colombia – LIHP 2008 Cohort. Isabel Cristiana Posada. National School of Public Health, University of Antioquia.
Contributions to the development of the LIHP decentralized program.

In 2008, I was working with the Organization of American States, applying an international vision of health to approach the study and intervention of the drug phenomenon in the higher education curriculum throughout the Americas.  This was the year I was selected to participate in the first cohort of the new version of the Leaders in International Health Program.  When I speak of the experience, the following thoughts resonate in my memory: learning, utility, theorization, research, analysis, discipline, interaction, transformation, synergy, cooperation, challenges, possibilities, comprehensiveness, innovation, commitment, team, and friends.   In synthesis, an experience that transforms one’s being, and that offers tools to transform the environment.  Since my relationship with the Program, my role as a researcher has been broadened in terms of the perspective provided by international health, emphasizing the importance of considering in all processes the impact of models of development and the absolute need of a focus on human rights, among other things.  I have been able to contribute to the development of educational processes for understanding the international determinants of health in the training of new health professionals and I am part of the team that is leading the development of the Specialization in International Health as part of the proposed decentralization of the Program, that is projected to be launched in 2013 and that will provide academic recognition to former and current participants of the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program of the Pan American Health Organization, providing the opportunity to train new actors in the field of international health.

Cuba – LIHP 2009 Cohort.  Tania Lizz Aguilar Guerra. National School of Public Health of Cuba.
Inspiration to collaborate with other countries and broaden the teaching department.

I was enthusiastic, worried and a bit scared. It was my first experience with distance learning and for such a long period.  It would also be the first time that I would be part of a group with so many nationalities and diverse professions; not to mention the professors and universities who would be developing each module all of them highly recognized.

Within a few weeks, I began to imagine how many things I could do for international health from my position as a professor and member of the directive body of the National School of Public Health in Cuba.  First, I imagined resolving the issue of recognition of the diplomas of graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine (LASM) in all the countries of the region, a project through which I could at least help identify the strengths and weaknesses that favor or affect this negotiation.  Two years later, I feel that a lot of things have changed. Not only in me, but also in my closest professional colleagues, as well as in the other directors of this ‘house of study’ (National School of Public Health) which had already contributed so much to public and international health and is now involved in hosting an annual international health meeting. The first meeting has already taken place involving both professionals from national institutions, who contribute knowledge and practice in this area, as well as from Latin America and other regions who wish to share, together with us, their wisdom and concerns.

One of our teaching departments has taken on the role of promoting and developing international health training and research, including assuming this role in its title within the organizational structure. The first ideas for a multi-centric and inter-sectoral training project in international health were discussed in a workshop involving Cuban educators and protagonists from international relations, higher education, the PAHO/WHO Country Office in Cuba, and two noted health professionals in Latin America, Miguel Márquez and Francisco Rojas Ochoa

I appreciate within our School a strong academic motivation that promotes the development of international health and which, for me personally, is what provides me my biggest satisfaction in my work and in my role as a leader.

Peru – LIHP 2010 Cohort.  José Alberto Castro. National Institute of Health.
International Health Seminars: Producing evidence for public policies of the sector.

The Program gave us a new vision to understand and develop international health. Using a model approach, we understood the importance of learning about it closely, through the forces of international relations, international cooperation, law, trade and others. As well as the basics of working in networks, strategic alliances and the collective development of knowledge.

On the international level, the Renewal of Primary Health Care has generated the need to take on a protagonist role in the analysis and discussion of its components. The strategy requires four reforms: coverage of services, health care delivery, leadership and public policies. In view of this, the technical teams of the National Institute of Health proposed to conduct International Health Seminars designed to provide an opportunity for joint analysis and reflection on the impact of public policies, based on scientific evidence, of various national health objectives such as nutrition and development, intercultural health, and the harmful consumption of alcohol, as well as the generation of public policies themselves, so as to contribute as an institution to this pending national agenda.

The seminars were organized by the National Institute of Health through its Executive Office of Technical Cooperation in conjunction with national local and regional governments as per the topic covered. The PAHO/WHO Country Office in Peru sponsored and provided technical support for all of the seminars.  The sessions included conceptual topics that were addressed by national and international experts from the respective fields, as well as critical discussion and analysis through the participation of panelists and a period of questions and dialogue with the participants. The seminars, were conducted onsite and included a virtual connection using Elluminate to link other users within and outside the country, particularly from UNASUR.  The events included regional experts from PAHO, as well as various cooperating agencies working in Peru, with the objective of developing and consolidating strategic alliances.

Additional information on the seminars can be found below in Section VI, Conferences and Seminars.

Guyana – LIHP 2011 Cohort. Dr. Vishwa D B Mahadeo. Berbice Regional Health Authority
Benefitting local populations through expansion of international vision.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90 I was encouraged to do this Programme by the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy. I wondered whether it was worth my while (time and effort) to enter the Programme. At the end of it all I can say a resounding YES to that question. It has changed not only my views on the delivery of health care but also my approach to health care delivery.

Being the head of my organization, the Berbice Regional Health Authority, the Program has helped me to influence changes in the approach of our staff, especially the primary health care staff, to their work. In fact, our LIHP country project involved the entire PHC staff at all twenty-six facilities. Now the staff in these institutions is asking for more information and more training. In this manner, the training received by the staff impacts the recipients of the health services, who are the eventual winners of the LIHP Programme.

The issues dealt with in this Programme were always there but did not receive the necessary emphasis in our daily practice. Although they were present – somewhere in the consciousness – they were not clearly visible. This Programme caused the focus to be on the real issues that needed to be brought forward!

The modules were done in a manner to let the participant live the ideas. For example, the concept of health as a human right exposed the participants to a different perspective. Health diplomacy widened the horizons. The effects of climate change linked all the modules and concepts.

It was a truly fascinating experience that made me grow as a health care practitioner. I give kudos to PAHO, the local PAHO/WHO offices, the tutors, and of course Annella, for creating the concept and successfully implementing the Programme. Thank you!

Panama – LIHP 2011 Cohort. Isaías Montilla. Pan American Health Organization.
A new perspective on work to be done within a technical cooperation framework.

My participation in the LIHP 2011 was not only a challenge but also a great privilege.  A challenge because of the difficulty of the training process and a privilege because this was the first time that someone from Panama participated in this new decentralized modality.  The Program allowed me to have a broader conceptualization of health through the factors that produce and determine it; that is an understanding of health-illness with an international perspective, analyzing the phenomenon with a basis in global factors such as international relations, economics, trade treaties, conflicts, and human rights, among other things.

Through my participation in the Program I have begun to assume, within the field of technical cooperation, new challenges in topics of national relevance such as safe motherhood or human resources.  Similarly, the training I received has strengthened my technical abilities which will allow me new opportunities for professional growth.

Chile – LIHP 2010 Cohort. Paula Santana Nazarit.  Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences FLACSO Chile.
Continuation of her country project in health and disasters.

I was selected by the PAHO/WHO Country Office in Chile to participate in the Program the same year that Chile suffered an earthquake, a circumstance that motivated me and my country colleague, Elizabeth López Tagle, Director of the School of Dentistry of the Andres Bello University of the Metropolitan Region, to select a country project related to health and disasters.  Upon completion of the LIHP, I continued developing this topic, this time through the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) with a project financed by the European Union.  The project is aimed at the development of disaster risk management plans at the local level, where I have worked with the community and municipalities in 4 rural communities in the Maule Region, one of the most severely hit by the earthquake.

The experience has been very enriching, particularly because my participation in the Program signified opening up a new area of reflection and work.  Although I had been working for many years in the area of health from a social perspective, the field of international health situated me in a global dimension that today is indispensable for dealing with the health of populations in all its complexity.

Argentina – LIHP 2010 Cohort. Andrea Polach.   International Relations Directorate, Ministry of Health.
More dynamic work after the Program.

My name is Andrea and I work in the International Relations Directorate of the Ministry of Health of Argentina, where I was born and live.  Since my training is in Economics, some of the topics surrounding public health and international relations and health seemed foreign to me at times.  In this sense, the Leaders in International Health Program provided me with a great deal of knowledge, theoretical as well as technical and practical.  But perhaps what I note in myself as the most important contribution of the Program is that, within it, I interacted with excellent and committed international health professionals and they have nurtured in me the passion for my work in my country on international health topics and constant leadership in initiatives in this regard. As such, my position in the area where I work is much more dynamic and I am very enthusiastic about it, always volunteering to take on new initiatives and tasks, and even proposing new challenges to my superiors. I think that this is something that I ‘caught’ from the LIHP although there are many other things that in reality are still latent and are being developed day by day as regards daily issues related to international health, which is a road upon which we have a great deal more to explore.


VI. Conferences and Seminars

Seminar series Río+20. Sustainable development and environmental health, PAHO/WHO

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, has offered the opportunity to re-examine the relationship between health and sustainable development 20 years after the Rio Declaration of 1992. This seminar series, sponsored by PAHO, has contributed to this debate in various topics of relevance to sustainable development and health. The recordings and presentations from the seminars are available here.

International Health Seminars: Producing evidence for public policies of the sector. National Institute of Health. Peru.

The International Health Seminars were organized by the National Institute of Health of Peru through its Executive office for Technical Cooperation in conjunction with national local and regional governments as per the topic covered.  The following topics were addressed:

        • Impact of public policies on harmful alcohol consumption
        • Nutrition and development: from evidence to public policy
        • Roadmap for public policies in diversity and intercultural health
        • Public policies based on evidence

More information on the seminars and their main conclusions can be found in the attached document and the following link.

Canadian Conference on Global Health 2012

The Canadian Conference on Global Health 2012 will take place in Ottawa, Canada from 21-23 October, 2012.  This year, the topic is “Global Health in the Shifting World Economy”. This conference is the only one in Canada dedicated specifically to global health and health in development. The conference allows for different international health professionals from various countries to interact and share experiences.  There will be a variety of sessions to disseminate information and discuss topics related to global changes in the economy and equity.

For more information on the conference, click here.

Cuba Salud 2012. International Convention of Public Health

The International Convention of Public Health will take place at the Convention Center in Havana, Cuba from 3-7 December, 2012 with the title, “For the Health and Wellbeing of All”.  The international sponsors include PAHO, WHO and the Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet). The event will take place in Spanish, English and Portuguese and its purpose is to analyze the international health situation and provide a space for the exchange of ideas and experiences related to the international health agenda.

To read more about the main topics and requirements for submitting an abstract, visit here or send your contribution by email to Conve2012@infomed.sld.cu by 31 August, 2012.

2nd Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Global Health, Santiago de Chile

The Latin American Alliance of Global Health (ALASG) and the School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Chile announce the 2nd Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Global Health to take place in Santiago, Chile on 9, 10 and 11 January, 2013. The main theme of the congress is “Transcending borders for health equity”. The objective of the congress is to share knowledge and strengthen alliances for education, research and advocacy in favor of global health in the Latin American and Caribbean Region; the meeting also purports to contribute to a Latin-American vision on the most burning topics on the world agenda regarding health and development, promoting itself as a forum for discussion and proposals to advance towards greater levels of equity and social justice within and between countries in the world.

For more information on the congress and/or to submit an abstract, click here.


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