The 10th Conference on Global Health and Vaccination Research took place on the 14-15 of March, hosted by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Opening session, photo by Elinor Bartle
The conference gathered over 300 researchers, doctors and leaders in global health to discuss the future of research and sustainable development. “Research will inform practices, priorities, policies and advocacy, and is crucial to access and development”, said Anne-Beatrice Kihara, President, African Federation of Obstetrician and Gynaecology in her invited plenary talk about access to reproductive health for women.
Despite the successes in many areas of the Millennium Development Goals, such as reduction of the global under-five mortality by more than half and maternal mortality dropping by almost half between 1990 and 2015, the income and wealth inequality gap within and between nations is widening and so is access to health by the most marginalised and vulnerable populations. At the same time, as Professor Flemming Konradsen from the University of Copenhagen pointed out, as the lower income nations urbanise and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle with increasing consumption of tobacco and alcohol, non-communicable diseases are rapidly rising. Although the increase is seen globally, it is more concentrated in low-income nations. The world is aging, there are still 1 billion “slum” dwellers, and air-pollution is getting worse, added Professor Konradsen.
Other speakers at the conference highlighted problematic effects of fragmentation by having too many NGOs in places like Malawi, the neglected neonatal mortality, building capacity for access to reproductive services and safe surgical treatment, as well as healthcare in conflict-affected areas, the challenge the world is facing with increasing antimicrobial resistance and the new Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI).
"The Low hanging fruits have been picked", were some of the final words of Professor Thorkild Tylleskär from the Norwegian Research School of Global Health at NTNU, “what is left is the harder ones, which need more investment and focus on health systems, health staff, health financing and health equity.”
In conclusion, despite the plateau in funding for global health research, academics, clinicians and policy makers need to embrace a multisectorial approach to development, and establish avenues of innovation and high impact sustainable improvement in health and equity.