A contribution from Walter Flores, an “emerged” emerging voice.
To me, the “First Global symposium on health Systems Research” was a mix of same old practices and few advances. By the old practice, I mean the idea of packing so many presentations in each session that it hardly leaves any time for questions. Debate was the great absent at the conference. This lack of debate gives the idea that there is a general agreement on what we mean by universal coverage and the different options to get there. From the sessions I attended, it seemed to me presenters were understanding concepts and goals towards universal coverage very differently with potential for conflict and trade-offs. However, there was no chance to clarify it, let alone debating it. In most sessions, questions were reduced to a few minutes and some other to none. The ITM Colloquium, with the use of the fish bowl technique did a much better job in allowing the debate and exchange of ideas. That type of approach would have been very useful for the HSR symposium. On the positive side, the first advance was the recognition by several presenters at both plenary and parallel sessions, that the political determinants of health systems have been an overlooked area. Hopefully, this recognition will lead to action and we will see more engagement with civil society and political actors at the local, national and global level. The second advance was the opportunity I had to connect with people from different continents who are working with citizens through participatory action research (PAR). We even organized ourselves as an international network of practitioners interested in learning and applying PAR approaches. The third advance was the participation of the emerging voices. It was so important to have young professionals from the south bringing things back to reality. Thanks a lot to ITM-Antwerp for pursuing this idea and supporting the participation of all emerging voices. Hopefully, the success of the emerging voices will become a trademark whose presence will be expected at all major international events in the future.