On October 17, 2020, the Canadian Global Health Students and Young Professionals Summit (GHSYPS 2020) brought together inspiring panelists, speakers, workshop leaders and participants to explore the theme of “Ideas to Impact: Global Health In Action.” Participants examined priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of health students for a green recovery, social entrepreneurship, and much more.
2020 has been a year for continuous change and adaptation. As Canada adopted COVID-19 measures earlier in March, the GHSYPS Planning Committee looked ahead to what an accessible and engaging event could look like for summit attendees across Canada and the globe. After eight months of hard work, our team proudly presented the first-ever free and virtual edition of GHSYPS.
Here are our top 5 lessons learned from planning GHSYPS 2020:
While the Global South is uniquely impacted by today’s most pressing global health challenges – fair access to care, emergency preparedness, impacts from climate change – the vast majority of high-level conversations on global health still take place in high-income countries situated in the Global North. Amid calls for more inclusive approaches to international development and public health broadly, our team saw the necessity of meeting virtually as an opportunity to do our small part in closing this gap.
The virtual format for this year’s summit allowed us to expand to 250 participants from coast-to-coast and outside of Canada, representing 15 countries.
Virtual events meet audiences where they are. They also provide an opportunity to create a more accessible environment for participants. Accessibility considerations were front and centre in our planning. In the end, we were able to:
GHSYPS is grateful for our incredible partners, whose commitments to fostering an educational and supportive environment were critical in meeting our accessibility goals.
While we have come a long way when it comes to online events, very little of it comes close to the real thing. We didn’t let that deter us from seeking new and creative ways to facilitate the connections that we look forward to building at GHSYPS each year.
Virtual networking opportunities became a top priority for our team. This year’s GHSYPS Social Night took the form of a Virtual Pub Trivia. A range of interactive workshops kept our participants involved, and a closed Facebook Group continues to provide an open space to “mingle”, build connections, and share ideas.
Every year, GHSYPS is proud to unite an audience from different disciplines, backgrounds, and geographic locations representing the full spectrum of global health work. There is a growing recognition of the importance of multisectoral approaches in securing health for all, and it can and will start with students and young professionals (SYPs).The power of collaboration was further highlighted in our closing keynote, where we were joined by Dr. Gigi Osler and Dr. Vicky Nyaiteera. Together, Dr. Gigi and Dr. Vicky spoke to breaking barriers and provided practical insights into North-South partnerships in the context of global surgery.
GHSYPS is always planned by SYPs, for SYPs. A team of diverse and dedicated individuals based across the country coming together to make it happen. As such, the Planning Committee is no stranger to the online work environment. Some of our top tips for launching virtual projects include:
For SYPs, change and adaptability is more than a familiar face. We have a role to play in rethinking the ways in which the global health sector works, and we are ready and eager to take on the challenge.