News & Commentary

26 January 2018

Update on HSR2018 organized session submissions

The submission date for organized session abstracts for our 5th Global Symposium has just passed, so an update on progress seems timely.

Firstly, thanks to the hard work of HSG colleagues, especially the Secretariat, and the tremendous enthusiasm of our members and supporters we’ve seen a 13% growth in the number of submitted abstracts for organized sessions compared to HSR2016 in Vancouver – with 384 submissions from 57 different countries* (over a third more countries as well).

We’ve made a concerted effort to increase submissions from low- and middle-income countries for organized session submissions so we’re pleased this seems to have produced results. Submissions from low-income countries have more than doubled, lower-middle income abstracts have increased by 39% and upper-middle income country submissions have risen by 15%. In comparison, abstracts from high-income countries only grew by 5%.

We’ve also succeeded in increasing submissions from previously under-represented regions. Abstracts from the Middle East (albeit from a very low base), Latin America and Eastern Europe grew. However, we’re still failing to stimulate participation from East Asia and the Pacific, receiving only 17 abstracts – the same number as in 2016. So we hope our colleagues from this region will help spread the word to increase individual abstract submissions, which will close on March 5th, 2018, to ensure a strong presence from East Asia and the Pacific in Liverpool.

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This year we introduced a tri-lingual submission platform to reduce language barriers for French and Spanish speaking colleagues. However, we only received five French and four Spanish submissions. We hope these investments will help to encourage those submitting individual abstracts.

Over the next few months, we will be taking this material and structuring it into what we hope you’ll find an exciting and stimulating conference program. As in previous years, half of the sessions will be drawn from the organized session proposals, and the other half will be assembled from individual abstracts. Selection of organized sessions will take place in the coming weeks. Session proposals will be reviewed by 4 expert reviewers, drawn from our scientific committee of 152 members. They have been asked to assess the proposals using the following criteria:

  • How relevant is the session to the Symposium theme?

  • How much will the session add to current understanding and experience in relation to its particular subject area?

  • What is the technical merit of the work to be presented/discussed in the session?

  • How likely is the session to encourage active engagement and debate among participants, for example through using innovative formats in a feasible way for the time available?

  • How likely is the session to appeal to diverse audiences (researchers, policy-makers, managers, civil society participants); residents of different geographical regions; regular conference attenders versus "first-timers"; and those from different disciplinary backgrounds

  • Are the proposed presenters, or is the session itself, diverse and inclusive?

The level of competition for the organized sessions slots is stiff: fewer than 1 in 7 can be selected for the program. However, proposals that are not successful at this stage can request a pre-conference satellite session, or submit elements of the proposal to the individual abstract competition for which the deadline is 5 March. Session organizers should hear decisions about their proposals towards end of February, allowing time to decide whether to pursue these options.

With this high level of interest, we think the Fifth HSR Symposium in Liverpool promises to be the best yet - with the 40th anniversary of Alma Ata providing an opportunity to reflect on the challenges to and solutions for developing health systems for all. We look forward to reviewing the submissions in the next week to shape an engaging and stimulating conference where we hope to see you!

Based on the Lead Author location, otherwise country participation is significantly greater when accounting for panel speakers and other presenters.


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