Annual Meeting, Day Two: MDGs and Refugees

I am always amazed at how exhausted these conferences always leave me. It is an energizing kind of exhaustion – the wonderful thing about the annual meeting’s size and diversity is that there is always so much going on, and we always want to soak up as much of it as we can. But as sponge-y as I try to make myself, absorbing meetings, scientific sessions, the expo hall, and a lovely awards ceremony is enough to leave anyone a little drained. It does, however, make me admire all of our overseas colleagues so much more, because they manage to participate right along with us, despite what must be a serious case of jet lag.

After the business meeting this morning, I wandered through the expo hall. Then I attended a session on the MDGs and the right to development, which was quite a learning experience for me – I had never heard of development framed in a human rights context, so I was definitely exposed to a new way of thinking about the MDGs and global health and development in general. Dr. Elvira Beracochea recommended some great pieces to read on health and development in general, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (always a classic), the Paris Declaration, and the Millenium Declaration, among others.

After lunch at an Irish pub on the 16th street mall, I went to a very interesting session on forced displacement and refugee health, chaired by Mr. Jirair Ratevosian. One project in particular captured my interest – Ms. Katherine Robsky, who worked as a fellow with the Global Health Access Program – shared her work with a project on the Thailand-Burma border with a TB treatment project that worked with IDPs targeted by the military junta. Apparently the program takes on a handful of fellows each year for various health-related projects, so that is one to add to my list (all you students looking for opportunities – heads up!) I spoke with her and one of her colleagues afterward, since I have a special interest in refugee and IDP issues (I recently had an article accepted by Forced Migration Review, and I wrote about the Rohingya refugee camp earlier this year). Her colleague invited me to attend her presentation (during the Child Survival and Child Health 2 session) on a project working in the same area tomorrow morning, so I will have to add that to my list.

In the evening, I went to the IH section’s awards reception. I heard so many inspiring stories of people’s devotion to amazing work and got an awesome free dinner to boot. I will post pictures with this entry once I get them from the Dr. Padmini Murthy (probably after we have all recovered back home).

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