By MOSES TETUI, RESEARCHER AT MAKERERE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
The 2nd Global Symposium on Health Systems Research officially kicks off today here in Beijing, but I’ve already been here for nearly two weeks participating in the Emerging Voices program. Emerging Voices is a joint venture by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp and Peking University School of Public Health designed to build presentation skills and strengthen voices of younger health systems researchers. The program was incredibly diverse, featuring courses on issues related to health systems research and skills-building workshops on scientific presentation and scientific writing in English in addition to cultural activities in China.
I was selected to participate in the venture as a young researcher from Makerere University School of Public Health in Uganda. I am a part of the wider FHS team in Uganda, where I focus on maternal and neonatal health in low-income settings like Uganda. Now that the venture is over, there are three main reflections I have on the two-week session.
The first part of the training program involved an introduction to new methods of presenting scientific research findings to a diverse audience in an effective way. Two particular formats were introduced: Pecha Kucha and Prezi presentations. Both of these mechanisms have at their core the use of illustrative pictures to communicate. Pecha Kucha emphasizes brevity, with twenty slides of images each rotating automatically after twenty seconds to force the presentation forward. Prezi is an online system for creating dynamic and creative presentations. I found these approaches very creative as they differed from the conventional PowerPoint presentation principles, which mostly have text. The other advantage of the picture principle is that it gives the presenter the opportunity to make the presentation more natural and interesting, therefore capturing the attention of the audience.
Secondly, we had cultural and field visits in which we were taken to different local Chinese traditional sites and introduced to the Chinese health system. I particularly found the cultural visits very rich and was delighted to be able to touch base with old Chinese traditions, which are very vividly painted at the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. I was also more than delighted to have a chance of seeing a panda at the Beijing Zoo. But more importantly, during the field visits, I was part of a group that went to what is called the ‘rural parts of Beijing’. Here we visited the district health office and two of their health centers. I was particularly impressed by the integration of Chinese traditional medicine with the western medicine within the mainstream health system. This means that they give both disciplines and approaches adequate resources and attention in terms of developing them further.
And lastly, Emerging Voices offered me an important chance to meet and receive some career guidance from senior health systems researchers. We had a huge number of senior researchers and I was able to meet some experts in participatory action research methodologies. This was of interest to me because we are building our current FHS intervention – MANIFEST – on these methods. MANIFEST is the maternal and neonatal implementation for equitable systems. Our overarching goal is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality through tapping into existing community resources and working through existing structures in order to increases chances of continuity.
I believe that Emerging Voices has introduced me to a network of researchers in my field and therefore opened possibilities for learning and sharing. I therefore want to sincerely thank the organizers of the emerging voices first for the organization and for partially funding my training. I would also want to thank the Future Health Team in Uganda for supporting my travel to Beijing to attend this training.
This blog post was first published on the Future Health Systems blog –