by Paul Gallagher, Learning and Communicarions Officer
On Thursday September 12th, representatives from GOAL took part in the 2019 Global Health Exchange Conference. The flagship event, which was held at Dublin City University (DCU), is the largest annual conference in Ireland focused on global health. The forum was co-hosted by the Irish Global Health Network (IGHN), the Health Service Executive, DCU and Oxfam Ireland.
The gathering brought together a range of health professionals, academics and others working in the humanitarian field. More than 75 participants discussed their work, exchanging practices in learning and field experience, bringing a focus on the poorest worldwide. GOAL’s head of MEAL, Dr Enida Friel co-chaired the morning plenary session with Professor Anne Matthews of DCU. The audience heard from Ifrah Ahmed, an Irish-based Somali activist, who has been campaigning to ban the practice of female genital mutilation in her native country, where 98% of girls are still affected. Dr Ailbhe Smyth, an activist and former co-director of the Together for Yes campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, also addressed the session, providing a history of gender quality campaigns within Ireland. In a series of presentations, GOAL’s global health advisor, Marie Hallissey presented research from Sierra Leone on the topic; ‘Exploring Adolescents’ Perspectives on Adolescent Pregnancy and Contraceptive Use in Freetown, Sierra Leone.’ The research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighted some of the many difficulties within the country, where adolescent deaths make up 20 % of maternal mortality rates and around 30 % of girls give birth before the age 18.
"Adolescent deaths make up 20% of the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone"
GOAL’s Hatty Barthorp, a global nutrition advisor, presented via video link, discussing The ‘Family MUAC’ (mid-uppaer arm circumference) which trains mothers and other caregivers to identify early signs of malnutrition in their children. The presentation looked at MUAC from a cross country perspective, taking in the countries of Malawi, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Alan Reade, a GOAL WASH global advisor, joined the conference voa video link also and presented: ‘In The Quest for Sustainability: Who Might We Be Marginalising?’ - highlighting research from Uganda, where technology is helping to pilot programs which helps community’s access water. Geraldine McCrossan, a global health advisor with GOAL, also outlined research from Uganda, entitled: ‘Communities Finding Their Own Solutions Northern Uganda.’ The research, funded by Irish Aid, examined the importance of social cohesion and community decisions for gender equality, using Community Conversations (CC). The CC method empowers communities to identify issues of most relevance to them, creating community-based solutions.
The conference also explored leadership within global health, with speakers including the Afghan Public Health Chief, Dr Mohammad Haqmal, who previously developed ground breaking health initiatives in Afghanistan; and Sherly Meilianti from the WHO’s new Global Health Workforce Network (GWHN) Youth Hub, who shared the importance of engaging students and young professionals in global health policy.
The IGHN is an independent network of people from different backgrounds, sectors and disciplines who are concerned with health inequities at a global level. The role of IGHN is to facilitate partnerships between institutions and individuals—and provide a platform for action on global health.