How to Kill Your Sex Life – Perceptions and Perspectives from ECTMIH
By Anika Ruisch
You know you have made the right career decision when right after the first coffee break, you are exposed to enormous photos of diabetes related foot problems. We are half way through the 8th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2013 (ECTMIH-2013) and time is flying. A wide range of topics have been touched upon: infectious diseases, mental health, healthcare systems, motivating social action and the threat of non-communicable diseases – just to name a few. This first short blog won’t do justice to all the great speakers who shared their expertise over the past two days, but let me talk you through a couple of my personal highlights.
A lot of attention is focussed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), especially the health related goals 4 to 6, and the post 2015 development agenda. Unfortunately the improvement of maternal health (MDG 5) made less progress than the other MDG’s. In a passionate talk, Jill Sheffield and James Tumwine emphasised how important it is for a community and the world to improve women’s health and their status – and that it is crucial to involve men in this process. They did this by telling the story of a couple in Uganda, who went to see a GP to talk about birth control. After hearing the options, they decided to start taking the contraceptive pill. Weeks later they came back to the GP and accused him of killing their sex life. The GP was surprised and asked some questions. It turned out that the couple did not entirely understand the concept of the pill, so James was taking the pill instead of Jill. The example of James and Jill made everybody laugh, however it also illustrates how important it is to educate both genders on women’s health and family planning.
So far several speakers have touched upon the right to health and access to health, which was also the topic of one of the first lectures of our MSc program. Access to health suddenly becomes very practical when Attiya Waris talks you through the financial means to the MDG’s and the potential way forward. Interestingly enough there is a correlation between countries that collect taxes, and their achievement of the reduction of child mortality under the age of 5 (MDG 4).
Besides the urgent need for a more holistic approach, Marleen Temmerman also calls for accountability. If a government fails to guarantee access to healthcare for its own people, the international community should take action. Which comes close to the idea of changing the MDG’s in development rights, instead of solely focussing on goals. This might sound like a bold idea, but if you give it some thought, it really is something that we should strive for.
I think I speak on behalf of the entire class if I say that all of us are slightly overwhelmed by the quantity and complexity of issues in the field of Global Health and the challenges that we are facing. With two more days to go, I can say that the conference was without a doubt, a great preparation for our masters program.
Bring it on!