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Insights from the 2024 CUGH Annual Conference

April 10, 2024
by Alyssa Cruz

From March 7th – 10th, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) hosted its annual conference in Los Angeles, CA. Focused on the theme of “Global Health Without Borders: Acting for Impact,” the event included topics ranging from sexual reproductive health and rights to climate change and the impacts on society and the surrounding environment. Several YIGH affiliated participated in the conference, presenting posters and participating in panels and satellite sessions throughout the weekend.

Dr. Tracy Rabin, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and Co-Director of the YIGH Global Health Ethics Program, along with colleagues from the CUGH Working Group on Equitable Opportunities in Clinical Education ran a satellite session entitled, “Overcoming Key Structural Barriers to Equitable Global Health Clinical Education Exchanges.” Dr. Harriet Mayanja-Kizza, Professor of Medicine at Makerere University and co-director with Dr. Rabin of the Makerere University-Yale University (MUYU) collaboration, discussed the advantages of bidirectional educational exchange in preparing future leaders in global health, highlighting examples of MUYU trainees as well as Ugandan trainees who have participated in other similar collaborations. Additional presenters enumerated barriers and potential avenues for solutions related to U.S. visa regulations, state medical licenses, and global health conference equity.

Dr. Sharon Chekijian, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Hani Mowafi, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, and Dr. Danielle Poole, Associate Research Scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, participated in a panel organized by Dr. Chekiiian exploring conflict and its impact on public health. Their presentations touched on conflict health theory, humanitarian response, and the challenges and importance of data collection. The panelists shared their personal insights including firsthand experiences triaging humanitarian action, coordination of resources, and the use of data for positive and negative purposes. Dr. Poole described the work of the YIGH Humanitarian Lab and showed how satellite imagery is used to document impacts on health infrastructure and violations of humanitarian law.

During the conference poster session, Claudia Kabanyana, Research Assistant at the Yale School of Medicine, and Bachar Ahmad (MPH ’24), presented projects in partnership with Dr. Melanie Sion, Assistant Professor of Surgery (General, Trauma & Surgical Critical Care at the Yale School of Medicine. Their projects, titled “Trauma Research In COSECSA Region: A Scoping Review of Change Implementation” and “Assessment of the Health Information System in a Tertiary Center in Malawi”, touched on the need for improvements for both publications and medical record data organization in Africa.

Dr. Rabin moderated oral abstracts on “Decolonizing – Reforming Global Health, Equity, Justice, Education, and Research”. Throughout the panel, current university students, faculty, and staff presented on projects and research including professional development courses, portable health libraries, fellowship programs on mental health, and the implementation of bidirectional fellowships. The presentations encompassed themes of international collaboration, capacity building, institutional impact, and knowledge exchange.

Dr. Evelyn Hsieh, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Roger Glass, former director of the Fogarty International Center, where representatives from U.S. and Chinese institutions discussed navigating partnerships between U.S. and Chinese academic institutions. The panel provided a venue to announce a new initiative, the China Medical Board Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in China, where U.S. postdoctoral scholars can travel to Chinese academic institutions for a 1-2 year research training experience mentored by faculty at Yale and China.

The CUGH conference served as a platform for scholars, practitioners, and students to engage in meaningful collaboration on global health and fostered interdisciplinary exchange on global health research and education. The conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, February 20-23, 2025.

Submitted by Alyssa Cruz on April 10, 2024