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Forward together: My experience at the 2017 Rhodes Healthcare Forum

Forward together: My experience at the 2017 Rhodes Healthcare Forum

The aim of this year’s Rhodes Healthcare Forum was to highlight the existing stark inequities in healthcare.  The Forum aimed to explore health inequities not only between the developed and developing nations, but also within communities that are often marginalised.  A wide variety of sessions sought to meet this ambitious goal, with topics that included tackling local and global challenges to health equity, pharmaceutical R&D in global health, how technological advances can be implemented in low resource settings and a focus on mental health in global healthcare policy.

In the context of healthcare it is often easy to focus on one area of interest, and so exposure to different topics and perspectives is immensely valuable. The variety of themes covered in this year’s Rhodes Healthcare forum and the collection of delegates from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise meant that spirited discussions arose. Not only is such a gathering rare, but it was also made particularly unique by the fact that all the participants were unified by their passion for global equity in healthcare. Current and senior Scholars, guests and the contribution of the Atlantic fellows and leaders united in this mission.

Intergenerational mixing played a key role in the forum. For me personally it was incredibly valuable to be able to have discussions not only with highly regarded experts in the field, but also early and mid-career healthcare professionals who had practical advice on what they had found to be challenging and rewarding. There was an opportunity for current scholars to present their ideas and projects, and to receive critical feedback and support from the wider community in the novel addition of ‘Idea to Implementation’ (I2I) talks.

The pace of the forum was intense with a densely packed schedule. Each plenary session and breakout group had a wealth of interesting take home points that I will definitely be putting into practice in my continuing career in healthcare.

Forums such as these, in centres like Oxford, run the risk of being purely academic discussions that are out of touch with the reality of the places and populations being discussed. However this healthcare forum had a strongly pragmatic focus, with speakers who clearly had significant on-the-ground experience in their respective fields. The discussions were centred on what steps could be taken going forward. A recurrent theme that was emphasised throughout the forum was that it is crucial for stakeholders in the local community to be equal partners in any effort to address problems related to health inequality.

I certainly hope that discussions started at this forum have lead to connections being made, which will result in the development of new projects, and ultimately solutions.

It was an eye-opening and important event. I thoroughly look forward to next year’s Forum.


Dr Alexander von Klemperer on behalf of the 2017 Rhodes Healthcare Forum organising committee

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The Rhodes Scholar Blog features the excellent research from our Rhodes Scholars and their insights into important topical issues. If you would like to contribute, please contact claire.skilton@rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk