Dear HSG members and well-wishers,
It’s a pleasure to write to you all as the new Chair of HSG with a New Year message. There have been a lot of opportunities to reflect on the biennium just past and the one in prospect, especially through the recent HSG AGM, which especially gave us the opportunity to hear from all the new Board members and understand what they will be bringing to the Society. HSG members contributed several valuable ideas and topics during the AGM. We would value your reactions to these via the web page’s comment section. We will be looking at it regularly and picking up on your ideas and suggestions and responding to other thoughts.
This year we have all been knocked sideways by the impact of COVID, even those of us who have been lucky enough to be unaffected by deaths of loved ones or direct economic impact. I would like to extend my sympathies to everyone who has not been so lucky. The need to pivot our biennial global symposium from a face to face to online format in record time – we put off making the decision to go online as late as we possibly could – has dominated the impact on the Society as a whole. The organisers did what I think was a fantastic job of making the online experience an excellent one and it retained the distinctive character of its Middle Eastern hosting from Dubai and Beirut. We are still enjoying Phase 2 of the symposium online but can already reflect on some of the highlights from Phase 1: nearly 2,300 registrations about half of whom received scholarships; nearly 2,000 visits to the poster gallery in the 5 day peak period between 8th and 12th November; over 3,000 on-demand views of sessions recordings and nearly 2,000 views of the HSR2020 launch video. We are so grateful to all our sponsors and partners for helping us achieve these levels of participation. It’s my great pleasure to announce that all the symposium content for phases 1 and 2 will be available to all for free from the second quarter of 2021 to extend access to all who can benefit from it, in the hope that this body of work will make a significant contribution to the further strengthening of health systems from then onward.
It is also a pleasure to recognise the winner of the Sam Adjei Distinguished Public Service Award for 2020 as Dr. Rajani R. Ved, who has made outstanding contributions to health system development, locally, nationally and globally, including as Executive Director of India’s National Health Systems Resource Centre and working over more than three decades with grassroots NGOs, governments, donors and private foundations to this ends. Congratulations Dr. Ved and thank you for your exceptional service to the cause of stronger health systems.
In closing this message, I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Asha George for her inspiring stewardship of the Society over the last two years and to the outgoing Board members for their substantial contributions over, in most cases, a four-year term of office. Welcome also to the new Board members whose passion and new energy have been wonderful to see. I’d also like to reiterate our appreciation of the outgoing secretariat, the Curatio International Foundation, under the excellent leadership of George Gotsadze, and to welcome in the new Secretariat, the Canadian Society for International Health and its Executive Director, Eva Slawecki. That’s a lot of change at once but you should all have great confidence in the new team who are approaching the tasks ahead with enthusiasm and energy.
Our tasks in the New Year will include development of the new Strategic Plan for the Society and we will be keeping you informed of how you can contribute to that. And we will start the process of preparing for Bogota in 2022 where we hope to be back on a face-to-face basis, but perhaps, using the learning of the last year, retaining online participation as an option to develop the inclusivity of the event – we’ll be consulting you about themes and other directions for that. Please keep in touch with us through all the mechanisms available – keep active in the Thematic Working Groups and Regional Networks, and tell us through our website’s comment facility how we can support your work better.
Hoping that 2021 will be in every way better than 2020 for all of us.
All the best,