Spending the summer interning in Geneva, Switzerland, a hub for global health policy, the ninth cohort of Duke Global Health Fellows capped a week-long policy course by attending the opening session of the Trilateral Joint Technical Symposium on Medical Innovation.
The 23 fellows are from universities around the world, including Duke alumni and a student in the Duke Master of Science in Global Health. Hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Intellectual Property Organization, the event allowed fellows to pose questions to each of the Director Generals and to GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley.
“It was very exciting to be a part of the symposium,” said Xiaochen Dai, a global health fellow and Master of Science in Global Health student at Duke. “The director-generals of WHO, WIPO and WTO and the CEO of GAVI gave inspiring presentations on medical innovations in global health.”
Also presenting at the technical symposium, Program Director and Duke professor Dr. Anthony So discussed new business models that overcome scientific and financial bottlenecks to pharmaceutical innovation and can transform how health technologies are distributed and brought to market. His talk “Antibiotic Resistance- Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Solutions” highlighted the need for new approaches that involve tiering, pooling and push-and-pull financing mechanisms.
The symposium and a week-long course leading up to it helped the fellows gain new perspective into emerging global health policy issues. The course involving 25 expert seminar sessions and site visits enabled fellows to understand how policy issues come together in the field, from innovation and technology transfer to intellectual property rights and access to medicines.
“The Geneva Global Health Fellow Program is fantastic,” said Dai. “I loved the one-week course during which we were exposed to many interesting topics in global health and visited many important organizations in Geneva. This program has definitely broadened my horizon in global health and helped me make connections with future leaders in this field.”
“I felt like my comprehensive understanding of the vast domain of global health challenges was holistically influenced by hours of intense exchange from the over 40+ individuals from numerous organizations across Geneva who took time out of their busy schedules to share their insights with us,” said Braveen Ragunanthan, a fellow who recently graduated from Duke with a public policy degree and global health certificate. “We are equipped with a sharper sense of what challenges exist, and now have a greater sense of urgency to help address them.”
Organizations that work closely with the fellows include many WHO departments, the UN Development Program, UN Environment Program, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, the World Heart Federation, and the International Organization for Migration. Students also attended a dinner with various mentors in global health and visited the Strategic Health Operations Center (SHOC), where WHO monitors pandemic threats and infectious disease outbreaks.