by Hunster Yang
“Health equity must drive health policy-making.”
-Opening Plenary Speakers at the 25th Canadian Conference on Global Health
As a young and emerging global health professional, it was an absolute privilege to attend the 25th Canadian Conference on Global Health (CCGH) in Ottawa, Canada. This year’s conference explored the intersections of governance, power, politics, and justice within our ever-diversifying and multidisciplinary global health sphere. Receiving the opportunity to learn from and engage in discussions with global health leaders from across the world was remarkable. This experience has undoubtedly fuelled both my personal and professional development as a future agent of change.
Placing Equity at the Centre
Through various keynote speakers, oral and poster presentations, interactive workshops, and open discussions, my global health knowledge and understanding was further developed. As an individual aspiring to work in the global health field, I was also able to gain numerous take-home lessons and messages that I hope to apply in my endeavours. In particular, the concept of equity was emphasized multiple times, such as from understanding how to achieve good governance, to tackling global climate change, or to influencing policy and interventions. It is clear that we – as a collective – must place equity at the centre. This includes involving communities right from the start in all planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation processes as there should be “nothing about us, without us” within the context of governance.
A component of the CCGH that I particularly appreciated was the engaging workshops. From developing monitoring and evaluation skills to applying generalizability frameworks to data, the sessions at CCGH were applicable, hands-on, and interactive. One of the notable workshops included discussing the importance of achieving diverse leadership in global health. The workshop was able to organize open conversations regarding power, privilege, diversity, inclusivity, and allyship. Specifically, this served as a critical reminder for professionals, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers in the global health field to ensure that diversity in leadership is, and will always be, achieved.
Collaboration is Essential
At the CCGH, I was also honoured to have received the opportunity to present my graduate work on the health and social inclusion of refugees in Canada. Being able to learn from, collaborate, and engage in discussion with those who are working in refugee health not only informed the work of my projects, but we were able to host open conversations that were relevant, timely, and necessary. In this process, the importance of multidisciplinary, cross-cultural, and intersectoral collaboration was reiterated – demonstrating the constant need of collective efforts, that are rooted in equity and diversity, to tackle the myriad of challenges in the ever-expanding and multifaceted global health sphere together.
Hunster Yang is a recent graduate from the Master of Science in Global Health program at McMaster University. With passion for working at the intersection of health equity and community engagement, some of his interests include immigrant and refugee health, social and structural determinants of health, community-based participatory action research, and global mental health. He is also currently serving as Director of Operations at the Institute for Youth Health and Development, a youth-led grassroots non-profit organization that seeks to improve the health and well-being of racialized, immigrant, and refugee youth in Toronto. Hunster loves to meet new people – feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter!