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Be the change you want to see

By Kristof Decoster
on June 23, 2015

(warning: push the Boris Johnson button in your brain before you read this)

I just learnt that “Resilient and responsive health systems for a changing world” was chosen as the theme for the Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, which will be held on November 14–18, 2016 in Vancouver, Canada. Great idea.

Under the motto “Be the change you want to see”, here are some quick ideas for how we, HPSR researchers (or would-be researchers, as in my case), can become more resilient, in order to be able to cope with the increasingly challenging environments in our institutions and beyond, not to mention the complex health systems we have to steer towards a more resilient future. So why not have a couple of nice ‘hands on’ workshops in Vancouver to boost the HPSR researchers’ own resilience and improve their holistic wellbeing? We could even cater to different tastes and cultural preferences!

The Indians would have to run a yoga workshop, obviously.  The Chinese could be in charge of tai chi and qi gong sessions – with the option of kung fu/ martial arts for the more adventurous/ dauntless among us (enter Martin McKee). We could let it all subsidize by the Indian & Chinese embassies & consulates –  we global health people know a “win win” when we see one, and half the funding for the Vancouver symposium would already be secured.

Over to the Latin Americans & Africans then. Why not let them mentor us, clumsy Europeans and Americans, on how one can dance properly and “forget about it all”, while shaking our booty? They also tend to be pretty good at ‘The Game’, i.e. the game of attraction between men and women, another great way to ‘be in the moment’ (but one of the reasons why many of their economies suck, in my humble opinion; too many of them are just too busy playing). If you can’t get enough of dancing as a way to improve your wellbeing and resilience, we could still hire a few more Indian coaches to teach HPSR researchers some Bollywood moves.

Over to the Buddhists then. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Margaret Chan, Tim Evans, and Jim Kim all meditate in one hall, and let a couple of young researchers use long zen-sticks to keep them focused, while gently tapping on their shoulder? (A tantric sex workshop is probably a bridge too far. And no doubt too ‘mumbo jumbo’ for the likes of Rob Yates et al.)

Perhaps less known, but Europeans and Americans also have their strategies to improve their wellbeing & boost their resilience in the process. The Brits could have a session on ‘how to get wasted in the local pub, while watching your rubbish national team, and fully enjoying it’. The American ‘value for money’ crowd could run a frenetic work-out session, to become a ‘true winner’ and never look back. As for the other, more dreamy part of the American population, perhaps, given the setting in Vancouver, they could go for a  Thoreau-style ‘Into the wild’ outing?

As for smoking pot, as Vancouver is situated in the land of Stephen Harper, you might want to be a bit careful with that. But it’s evidence-based that with the right herbs, your wellbeing at all the other workshops can and will increase exponentially.

And if all that doesn’t work, we hope Big Pharma is also present with some of their goodies to boost your wellbeing and resilience.

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