The GHIC was an opportunity for leaders, educators, students and professionals to exchange ideas across all disciplines of health, international development and social entrepreneurship. I thought it was particularly effective to have leaders, educators and innovators from countries around the globe sharing their experiences and considering strategies used by others. This was an amazing educational opportunity for me to learn about successful and innovative health care strategies, and hear some inspiring stories of challenge and success, which have made me feel motivated to make a difference! Throughout the weekend, I met many diverse individuals that shared a passion for health care strategy and for advocating for the rights of many who do not have adequate health care.
As a 3rd year Health Studies student enrolled in a Global Health Promotion course, I was able to apply many of the very relevant and current topics we were discussing in class to many of the topics presented at the conference. Health Studies is a diverse program in itself; we are encouraged to reflect on the idea that health involves much more than medicine; there is a platform of intersectionality on which many contexts and factors converge, and that each of these factors is related. Throughout the sessions, my knowledge regarding the current inequities in access to care, in delivery of care and in social justice was reinforced and enhanced.
At one point during the conference, I felt a sense of overwhelm. There are so many health-related problems being faced around the world: difficulties with effective distribution of resources, challenges in eradicating infectious diseases, and struggles in making the world a healthier place in which to live. What can I possibly do to help solve these problems? In considering potential answers to this question, I realized that my goal in attending the conference was fulfilled: I wanted to remind myself that health problems do exist, whether they take place in Canada or Rwanda. I wanted to understand that there is no single universal solution to address all the problems that exist. I wanted to challenge myself to think outside of the box, and see how others did so in their respective fields. I was able to hear from so many successful health leaders and aspiring student health innovators, which helped me transform my sense of overwhelm into one of excitement. Times are changing quickly, and ideas are sprouting like little seeds of innovation. I’m excited to be part of the movement that strives to expand global health to its full potential, and watch the seeds of innovation grow and transform into trees of possibility.