TCS Review: Polygeia 2014

Image credit: Polygeia

On 15 November 2014 Polygeia, a group set up by Cambridge students to tackle global health issues, held its inaugural Global Health Policy conference. Despite this student led group only establishing itself in February, the event was very professional, from the use of the group’s branding to the array of guest panel speakers and keynote speech being delivered by a former WHO Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The conference focused on ‘policies over a range of themes presented to world experts in the fields of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Global Health Partnerships and more.’ But rather than just lecturing at the audience, comprising university students – not just from Cambridge – and sixth formers, the presentation of the selected student’s policies and discussion from the expert panel members, showed the potential of what a student could do.

There was a particularly interactive and innovative session to demonstrate the impact of the work, involving a large group of people ‘worm’ing on stage to gain awareness for the combat against schistosomiasis. In addition to the talks, Polygeia also held workshops to further student’s interest, though unfortunately these coincided with the talks placing a slight conundrum on the choice of where to go next.

The conference introduced to me things that I had not heard of nor considered when it came to Global Health such as “Reverse Innovation” (applying health care procedures from developing countries to the developed world), with one student describing it as “informative and inspiring”. The most commendable achievement of the conference should be how it drove home the message that students really could shape the future of global health policies, with the committee planning ahead: “This is just the start of Polygeia on an international platform.” 

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