On 26th September 2015, over 100 Global Health Enthusiasts gathered at St George’s, University of London for Selfless’ first ever OneDay Global Health Leadership Summit. The delegates were selected from universities from all over the country. They included medics and global health students with a passion for international development and global health advocacy.
Registration started at 9am. Delegates arrived from Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and more, collecting their Global Health Ambassador identity cards they made their way into the main lecture theatre to listen to Selfless’ Chief Executive and Founder, Dr Na’eem Ahmed, welcome them. Dr Ahmed not only highlighted the work that Selfless is currently doing in the realms of international development, health and digital health-technology but also inspired the audience to believe in themselves: ‘Don’t let anyone tell you you’re “just medical students”, because “just medical students” have changed more than 10,000 peoples’ lives.’
The acclaimed physician, the founder of the Tropical Health and Education Trust, Sir Eldryd Parry, who delivered the first keynote address, followed Dr Ahmed. He encouraged the Global Health Ambassadors to maintain openness to learning in all of their future work as global health leaders. After this, the energetic founder of Operation Fistula, Seth Cochran, addressed the delegates. He made clear the students’ place, encouraging them to have ‘intent, action and perseverance’ and reminding them ‘don’t give up’.
The delegates then took a well-deserved break in which they were able to digest the global health messages they had received and network with one another. They were very keen however to get stuck into the panel discussion that followed. Selfless’ Sam Atwell chaired a panel that included Sir Andy Haines, Naana Otoo-Oyortey and Rob Yates. The discussion centred on ‘The Future of Global Health’. The overwhelming theme was that of women’s empowerment and raising their status in global health. ‘Many services that benefit women are extremely cost-effective and top priority for universal coverage’ stated Rob Yates.
After lunch the delegates returned to the lecture theatre one final time to receive guidance on leadership and workshop organisation from Selfless’ Programme Manager, Mona Hakim. She highlighted the importance of patience and perseverance in their roles as Global Health Ambassadors.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent in workshop training. In groups of approximately 25, the delegates were trained on the global health issues that arise in: female genital mutilation, HPV and cervical cancer, mental health and stigma, and obstetric fistula. Dr Israa Siddig, Dr Jane Dickson, Dr Tanya Deb and Dr Pip Letchworth led the workshops respectively. The students reported an increased insight into the global health issues existing amongst these areas and a deeper understanding into their realities.
The day drew to a close with delegates conversing excitedly, chatting about their plans for community impact and exchanging contact details. Selfless took pleasure in observing the enthusiasm they exhibited for educating others of the realities of global health and wishes them every success in their work and will be available at every stage of the process to assist them.