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Nearly 500 Participants in the First Edition of ISGlobal's Spring School

The online course, promoted by the institution’s Severo Ochoa programme, focused on major global health challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective

Giulia Pollarolo at the Spring School 2022
Photo: Emilio Palumbo

Implementation science, the effects of climate on health, the applications of e-health technologies, endemic and pandemic infectious diseases, and the health effects of disrupting the human circadian clock are five emerging topics of interest in the field of global health. These were also the five topics addressed in the first edition of the International Spring School in Global Health organised by ISGlobal, a centre supported by ”la Caixa” Foundation, through the Severo Ochoa programme. Although it is a first edition, it follows the success of the "International Summer School on Advanced Methods in Global Health", which was held in early September 2021, with the same format and methodology.

From March 28 to April 1, the five-day online course brought together 475 participants from 78 countries, nine out of ten of whom live in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC). In order to provide insight into global health challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective, students could choose up to three of the five modules offered, of ten hours each.

Outstanding speakers for interdisciplinary learning

The faculty included 32 active professionals linked to ISGlobal, working in the disciplines and topics mentioned above. In addition, the course included two keynote lectures by internationally recognized figures. On the one hand, Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at World Health Organisation (WHO), shared "The Health Argument to Tackle Climate Change and Pollution". On the other hand, Jaime Sepúlveda, ISGlobal Visiting Professor and Haile T. Debas Distinguished Professor of Global Health and Executive Director of UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences spoke on "The Mesoamerica Health Initiative: A Results-Based Financing, Regional Integrated Intervention".

To shed light on the strategies, required skills, and key challenges of a career in global health, the Spring School closed with a high-level panel discussion featuring Adetoun Mustapha, from the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, Cristian Casademont, from MSF OCBA, and Denise Naniche and Elisabeth Cardis, from ISGlobal.

“The panel discussed the need to have transferable skills such as communication, leadership, and commercial skills; the importance of volunteering to gain experience, mentorship, and professional networking for career development when transitioning within the global health ecosystem —from academia to research to industry, from research to management, and vice versa,” commented Adetoun Mustapha, Adjunct Research Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.

Online and short-term to go further

Manolis Kogevinas, Director of the ISGlobal’s Severo Ochoa programme, highlighted “the successful participation of LMIC professionals and students, thus fulfilling one of the initially proposed objectives and contributing to reducing the knowledge gap globally”. Giulia Pollarolo, the course coordinator, agreed that “the Spring School was designed as a short online course to accomodate more participants, and free access was offered to participants from LMIC to promote participation from all over the world”. Adetoun Mustapha described this fact as very positive: “It is heart-warming to see Nigerian participants create a network to maintain the professional relationships developed at the training”.

In addition, the flexible modular structure, with ten-hour modules divided in two-hour sessions over five days, aimed at making it easier for global health professionals to combine training with their job.

For those who were unable to participate on this occasion or were left wanting more, there will be a Summer School in a few months' time. The organisers are already working on the dates and modules, which will be announced in the coming weeks.