The first plenary session was entitled Tackling HIV/AIDS in a resource-poor setting The three speakers were Professor Harold Jaffe, head of Public Health at Oxford University, Hope Chigudu, a Ugandan born activist now living in Zimbabwe who tackles issues such as the empowerment of women and Dr Helen Weiss, a lecturer from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a researcher into the impact of male circumcision on the spread of HIV.
The second plenary looked at Disaster Relief and Emerging Epidemics. This was a hugely interesting plenary that looked at the risk of a global influenza pandemic amongst others. The three speakers were Dr David Nabarro, an Assistant Secretary General at the UN, Dr Alexander van Tulleken who spoke about his work in the war torn region of Darfur with Medecins du Monde, and Dr Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Minister for Health.
The keynote speaker on Sunday was Edward Scott. He worked for the US Government for 17 years before moving very successfully into the business sector. Since then he has set up a number of philanthropic initiatives including “Friends of the Global Fight” which supports The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The first plenary on Sunday was entitled International Aid: the good, the bad and the ugly. The first speaker was Dr Ruth Levine. Dr Levine is the Vice President of the Center for Global Development. The second speaker in this plenary was Lord Nigel Crisp, former Chief Executive of the NHS. The final speaker in this plenary was from Oxfam and discussed some of the work they do in Darfur as well as other regions.
The final plenary discussed the much neglected topic of Mental Health in the Global Community. Professor Norman Sartorius, a world leader in psychiatry discussed the burden of mental illness. Dr Derek Summerfield spoke very passionately about the dangers of transmitting “Western” models of mental health into other cultures. The final speaker of the weekend was Professor Lewis Wolpert, a distinguished molecular biologist who suffered a few years ago from very severe depression and subsequently wrote a book about it.
Overall, the weekend was hugely informative with interesting debates and talks by world experts. The size, scale and quality of the speakers have taken Medsin conferences to a new level.