The University of Oregon will host the annual Western Regional Global Health Conference April 20 through 22. The conference is open to everyone and free for students with their ID. Tickets can be picked up at the UO ticketing office.
The Global Health Club at UO is looking to start a conversation about global health that isn’t just medicine-related, but is about education, awareness and advocacy from a well-rounded perspective, according to UO student Zoe Cameron. Cameron is the public relations and communications chair for the club and a junior majoring in human physiology.
Part of the reasoning behind hosting the conference at UO this year is to raise awareness for the new Center for Global Health and the global health minor.
“One of our goals is to make the Pacific Northwest a main point of location in the U.S. when talking about global health,” said Andrew Pardi, the executive director and president of the UO Global Health Club.
This year’s overarching theme for the conference is “Change-Makers: The Essential Role of Women in Global Health.” Plenary panels for the conference are “Global Health and Ethics,” “Menstrual Health,” “Alma Ata” (an international declaration that discusses the importance of primary health care), and “Adverse Childhood Experiences.”
Other schools attending the conference include University of Washington, Oregon State University, Oregon Health and Science University and Portland State University.
There will be nine breakout sessions in the conference, some of which will include “Refugee Health,” “Obstetric Fistula and Beyond: Improving Women’s Health,” “Global Health Environment” and “Rural Healthcare and Barriers to Access.”
Since September, Pardi has been coordinating guest speakers with the help of a team of students.
Each student that is a part of the Global Health Club brought a different perspective on an issue that is most important to them, which is highlighted in the design of the conference. For Pardi, it’s the ethics involved in global health.
Grant Klausen, a junior majoring in human physiology and minoring in chemistry and global health, is the co-director of events for the Global Health Club and had a major impact on the planning of the conference.
One of the most important global health issues to Klausen is menstrual health. It’s an issue that often gets brushed aside at many of the larger conferences Klausen said, which is why he made sure that wasn’t going to happen at this year’s conference.
“We wanted to especially highlight [the importance of the issue] by placing it at a plenary panel level, as well as feature a lot of the different perspectives of that issue that are generally not exposed,” Klausen said. “We have a formerly homeless panel member, a transgender panel member, a practicing physician and two members from the Society of Menstrual Cycle Research.”
Pardi, Klausen and Cameron all agreed that it is extremely important that college students are aware and informed about all of the issues that surround and compose global health.
“When you get to college, we all sort of get this tunnel vision — we put these blinders on,” Pardi said.
“We focus on the homework we have to do and the friends we have around us, which is important, but I feel like we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture,” Pardi said. “Any education you can receive about what the true state of the world is right now is going to make you a better person in the long run.”
On the flip side, Pardi said that students can sometimes hear about all of these problems in the world and feel overwhelming helplessness, to which he suggests that “everyone can make a difference by thinking globally and acting locally.”