"Global Health is everyone's concern. And it is our concern. Unless we make it our concern, we are not going to fix the problem public health is facing nowadays."
Amar speaks about how her experience in Palestine was one of the most heartbreaking things she saw. People were divided by a wall, shutting others out.
Amar is now finished with her speech. She is now accepting questions.
One woman asks: What is it that MSF does to help the sustainability of conditions like malaria? Amar replies that she will train people and act as a supervisor. As for sustainability, every time you open up a project, you think about the "exit strategy." "As long as we can leave training and education behind, we have done something."
Another woman asks Amar personally: Where do you stay on these missions? Amar responds: For the people interested in these missions, it's important to be available for 6 months to a year the first time you head out. Amar says she would go back and forth from her home in Toronto to foreign countries. But she also notes that coming back is just as hard as going out. "Coming back is an adaptation." She talks about having to get used to traffic and not squatting over a toilet. This generates laughter from the audience.
We are now breaking for dinner. Stay tuned and continue the discussion at #RyeGHC14.
Angel Wang lets everyone know that we will be resuming the conference in five minutes.
Angel Wang introduces our second speaker Shafi Bhuiyan, who was responsible for recommending many of the guests that are here today. Today he will speak about the Maternal and Child Health Handbook for woman empowerment and contunuity of maternal, newborn and child health care.
The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Handbook is a book that contains essential information, kept by the family to promote and maintain the health of mothers and children.
Bhuiyan explains how this is a "great passion" of his.
The MCH handbooks are available in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. Bhuiyan explains that healthcare workers often have a hard time communicating health information to others.
Bhuiyan explains how the idea of MCH handbooks came about, when he was out on missions in Japan (which was the most devastated country after World War II). This quickly became an idea for other countries like Indonesia as well.
"The existing system shows the healthcare worker speaks and the patient listens." But the book can give them knowledge so the patient can understand what we're talking about, says Bhuiyan.
"Information is the super power. We pick out different information like cherry picking and then transform this information into knowledge. Similarly, I compiled all the information into one book," Bhuiyan says.
Bhuiyan explains how the idea of the MCH handbook grew through several symposiums in several countries.
Bhuiyan says that it's first important to expand and then improve on the quality, when it comes to his MCH handbook material.
Bhuiyan says that in Canada, we still need an MCH handbook for Aboriginals and new immigrants. "We can still make the Canadian health system stronger." It should be a community-based focus.
Bhuiyan says that this struggle for information is not that clear to us, because we just Google everything. For someone like a Japanese mother, they can't do that.
According to a Bangladesh study, the MCH recieved great reviews, and has made a drastic impression on the knowledge of mothers.
Bhuiyan closes his lecture thanking Ryerson students. He is now taking questions.
One woman asks: How do you recommend we get started? Bhuiyan says to start by developing ideas so that research can be done.
Another woman in the back of the room asks: How do you improve health literacy for people that are illiterate? Bhuiyan says much of the region of Bangladesh is pictorial, you can create mobile apps even. In every household, one person has an education. That person needs to educate the rest of their family. The asker uses Vietnam as an example of a country that has a very low health literacy rate. Bhuiyan is saying that it's a slow process to see results.
Another question from another woman: How are you getting these handbooks out to the rest of the country? Bhuiyan points out that he's working with the government, so virtually every mother can have access to it. He talks about tackling it regionally.
The last comment comes from the other speaker Johana Amar, who says she's impressed with Bhuiyan's approach because an app was just released around the same principles many years after he developed the handbook.
And that concludes the first day of the Transcend Borders Global Health Conference.
I caught up with third-year nursing student, Zahra Islam about what she thought about the first day of the conference.
The conference will continue tomorrow morning at 9 am with a day jam-packed with global health issue discussions and workshops lasting until 9 pm.
Organizer Angel Wang tells me that tomorrow the topics will be more student-based. There’s going to be a workshop about mental health and suicide, which sold out immediately, along with other student-based discussions. "I'd say it's definitely going to be more active tomorrow."
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! Here's a schedule of what tomorrow will look like: