Time really flies! It’s already the fifth edition of the Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH) programme – initiated by the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (ITM) in 2010. And while ITM remains a critical partner, the EV initiative has evolved into a multi-partner venture, steered by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) Bangalore, supported by a new governance structure in which EV alumni also play a key role. The objective of the venture is to train and enable the next generation of change-makers and action-enthusiasts in the Global South to be critical, argue till the death and offer solutions to pressing health system challenges. The EV programme now has an established governance structure; it is also listed as a Thematic Working Group (TWG) of Health Systems Global (HSG) with EV alumni from all regions playing a key role in the venture and network! And while we’re at it, this might also be a good time to encourage you to vote for some of our prolific EV alumni nominated to serve on the board of HSG (Nana Yaa Boadu, Dorcus Kiwanuka Henriksson, Aku Kwamie, Francisco Oviedo-Gomez)!
Coming back to the current edition of the EV program, this year, we received a whopping 200+ applications from all corners of the globe which definitely gave selectors a few migraines and areas of contention! After much debate and too many tough choices, the EV team is excited to announce 41 outstanding candidates. The world will have to watch closely, perhaps even more closely than for the (s)election of the next United Nations (UN) Secretary General and next US president because just as in previous editions, EVs usually storm HSG conferences and the world in general! This year’s selection of EVs includes young health systems researchers, complemented by decision-makers and practitioners who are also considered to be activists in the field of health policy and systems research, and are passionate about health equity. It seems our selections for 2016 were also spot on: by way of example, EV2016 Dr Isabel Kazanga is already creating those resilient, responsive waves, including in national newspapers! Others will no doubt follow suit in the coming months.
So, what makes the EV programme stand apart from other capacity building initiatives?
Together with several partners, IPH and ITM train and build capacity and foster a network of young-and-upcoming researchers from the Global South. The programme is structured into two phases: an online distance learning phase, and face-to-face interaction conducted ahead of the biennial Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (which takes place this year in Vancouver). Linking the programme to the Symposium has been beneficial in enabling EVs to be part of the broader HPSR network and participate in HSG structures including the EV TWG! This year most of the EV action will primarily take place between August and November, and of course at the symposium itself! But also beyond the symposium, you’ll continue to hear from EVs, history teaches us. Some can’t even shut up 🙂 !
Nothing’s ever perfect!
While the EV programme has made significant strides in bringing together young researchers from every corner of the globe, be it Cambodia, the Middle-East or Uganda, and although we’ve had quite some French and Spanish speaking participants in the past, we did not see a high number of applications from these contexts. The same is true for the post-Soviet Union countries. The challenge remains as to how we can expand the programme to further engage these speakers and tailor the training to their needs as well as bridge the language barrier in our programme and the broader research world! Also, of course, just as with any good cause, funding constraints have proven to be a challenge in ensuring that the programme itself takes place! Although finances have not, and never will restrain us (EV4GH are, by definition, “resilient”), we are solution-driven – post the programme after all! Keep an eye out for all our EV action, including our emerged voices, EV2016 candidates and our exciting line-up before, during HSR2016 and beyond!
p.s. if you are in Vancouver on the 12th of November 2016, do attend our EV pre-conference in partnership with the Global Health Students and Young Professionals Summit (GHSYP), Simon Fraser University! More details to follow soon!