My journey as an Emerging Voice for Global Health
“Once an emerging voice (EV), always an EV” – I think this statement best describes the Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH) program. EV4GH has ignited my global health passion, shaping where I am now and my future plans.
I was one of the EVs in 2014 (Cape Town). Through EV4GH, I got a chance to attend (fully funded) the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2014), which I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. This opened doors for me to get to know the key players in the (health systems/policy) field, resulting in my involvement as an intern then consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi. At WHO, I worked with WHO Europe and the Headquarters at the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research – to the latter I was introduced through EVGH and Health Systems Global (HSG). Since then, I have finished my PhD (with some chapters written in collaboration with the institutions I met through EV4GH), pursued a postdoc at Yale, and now I’m working as a researcher at Harvard, still focusing on health systems. Indeed, EV4GH has been the launch pad for my career.
Beyond being a launch pad, EV4GH has provided so much more. With EV4GH offering additional social media training, I have also been actively involved with the communications team of HSG for five years (and continuing). Many EVs know the Pecha Kucha presentation format, which I have used up to this day when I wanted to give compelling stories and lectures. If most researchers focus on publishing in high impact journals (for good reasons), as an EV, I also had the privilege of writing for the International Health Policies (IHP) blog, allowing me to share with a wider audience my perspectives on issues that matter the most to me. Being a global network, it has been one of my main sources when seeking potential project collaborators and advice on the local context of a foreign country I am working on.
For me, two things made my experience with the EV4GH stand out since Cape Town: 1. the relentless engagement of the alumni (thanks Kristof and the Secretariat) by providing constant updates and opportunities where EVs can take part in; and 2. the inspiring and vibrant community, where alumni are supporting each other, collaborating, and ensuring that we all excel in our own endeavors. It makes me proud to be an EV every time I hear how others have made great strides in their work. We can only hope that the network continues to grow and open doors especially for those who have great potential but may not have all the means and resources to excel.Erlyn Rachelle Macarayan
Emerging Voices: the path to a global mindset and spreading your wings as a young researcher
Of all my international experiences so far, the Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH) programme stands out. As Sheryl Crow sang in ‘The first cut is the deepest’, indeed it is. Fresh from my postgraduate degree and working on my first research project, there I was in Vancouver (EV 2016), on my first expedition to global health meetings. Today, my international network has grown. I feel more confident in all audiences with the energy to shake the global health hegemony.
Since Vancouver, I have participated in the organization of several conferences, attended others and won career development fellowships. Fresh from the EV experience, I chaired the logistics committee for the First International Conference on Community Health Workers organised by the Community Health Workers (CHWs) Thematic Working Group (TWG) of Health Systems Global in February 2017. This event in Kampala, Uganda was attended by over 450 people from more than 20 countries, including three EV alumni. During the conference, I also moderated the opening and closing plenaries building on the skills I gained from the EV programme. Consequently, we collaboratively wrote a blog about the conference proceeding which was published in International Health Policies. The second symposium is taking place in Bangladesh in November 2019. In April 2019, we hosted the Third International Federation of Environmental Health Academic Conference in Kampala, Uganda. I was a member of the scientific committee and chair of the logistics team. Since joining the EV program, I have attended a couple of scientific meetings including the 10th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health in Antwerp and the second planetary health meeting in Edinburgh, among others. I have also been awarded the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) and Fogarty Global Health Fellowships (FGHF) to support my PhD work.
Overall, the EV experience boosted my professional confidence and self-esteem. It saved me from thinking (only) within my own space and instilled a global mindset. Moving forward, I crave for an EV community that engages alumni aggressively post-symposium, even if I know this is a “resource constrained” network.Charles Ssemugabo
The EV effect – tangibles and intangibles
Participating in the 2014 “Cape Town” edition of Emerging Voices was a great experience in itself. It opened the doors to help me imagine more creative and interesting communication of my research. More importantly, I was able to interact with other young researchers from around the world and learn about methods they were using for their work. I can say that in a quiet way, the EV venture provided me the little nudge I needed to publish (occasionally with other EVs and mentors!) and to enroll for doctoral studies. I also feel more aware of what is going on in global health due to the active EV Google Group. These have been critical changes since the program. However, what has been most interesting to witness is the growing stature of several of my fellow EVs. While I always needed to push myself to engage with audiences, it has been a pleasure to see my fellow EVs take (and occasionally take over) important stages to communicate important messages. Be it talking to prominent leaders or appearing on television to participate in discussions, EVs are seen everywhere in the sphere of global health. EVs are also regularly participating in, organizing and contributing to webinars, which are an effective way to disseminate knowledge and skills to global audiences. I have attended some of these, and found them very useful. This is inspiring, because we surely need our voices heard in the context of the most pressing issues all around us. Some of these EVs have also been kind enough to review my work and provide me with feedback when I have approached them. I can say that being a part of this network has been very useful, in many tangible and intangible ways.Adithya Pradyumna