Editor: Helen Myrr
As heads of the Global Health blog, Line and Sinéad were invited to Swedish Network of International Health (SNIH) 2nd Annual Conference looking at “Health Equity in an Unequal World”. But who are SNIH and what was the weekend all about?
SNIH was set up just over a year ago in Sweden for global and public health students and alumni, to create a network of students and young professionals. The network aims to facilitate interaction between members and provide tools for personal and professional development, to the benefit of the profession. SNIH also stresses the need to bridge the gap between student and professional life, as they are doing through one of their initiatives, the mentorship programme Global Health Me. You can find more about the SNIH and their activities here.
The conference was held over two days in Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, striking a satisfying balance between panel discussions, talks and networking sessions. There were many interesting points made and discussions throughout the two days but here we will share three keys themes that came up:
The first major theme that emerged was best highlighted in Hans Rosling’s talk. As always, he was an animated and captivating speaker, looking at data and how it is often misinterpreted or not challenged enough. He highlighted the concept of “factfulness”, first introduced by his son a few years back, as a concept the world needs more of.
When we are discussing important issues such as health differences between and within parts of the world, grounding what we say with facts and knowledge is crucial – otherwise they are simple statements of opinions. Unfortunately, opinions are too often presented as facts.
If you have not yet had a chance to see Hans Rosling talk yet, we highly recommend a number of excellent talks available on TED.
The emphasis on evidence was also highlighted in other talks. Dr. Helena Nordenstedt, assistant professor and researcher at Karolinska Institutet, spoke about international efforts to address the recent Ebola outbreak. In 2012, Dr Nordenstedt started working for Médecins sans Frontières and has been to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Liberia, where she worked in an Ebola Treatment Centre. Dr. Nordenstedt emphasised the need to continually expand our knowledge of this disease and many neglected disease. It is our lack of true understanding that left us vulnerable as demonstrated by the new cases of Ebola in Liberia even after the country was declared Ebola free, as well as the discovery that the Ebola virus can remain dormant for a long time in human tissue.