Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday Nov 20th - Going home

After four days in Bamako, the farewell is approaching. As I prepare my luggage, I start to reflect in the meaning of this trip both professionally and personally. Certainly, the long flight home (about 35 hours) will give me some time to think. For the longest time I have wanted to come to Africa. As I have told my closest friends, the more I learned about public health, the more I felt necessary to witness the realities of this continent. After my very short trip, I cannot claim expertise. If anything, I can say that I feel energized and inspired to work and collaborate towards improving the health of vulnerable populations.

Wednesday Nov 19th - The last day

The last day of the forum was an opportunity to meet with the People's Health Movement. Colleagues from India, the Netherlands, and Ecuador, explained to the "Young Voices" its purpose. Although I had already heard about them in the past, it was a great opportunity to know a few of their leaders and renew our commitment to Health for All. This talk reminded me that, after three days of conferences, I needed to see a little bit of Bamako. From the pack of motorcycles waiting for the green light, to the mother carrying something to sell, to the minibus, Bamako is truly a vibrant city.

Tuesday Nov 18th - Celebrating 60 years

The bus that takes us from and to the conference center is escorted by a police officer in a motorcycle. Here are a few snapshots of Bamako.

In the evening, we were all invited to the National Museum of Mali, where we celebrated 60 years of the WHO and 10 years of the Global Forum for Health Research.

Monday Nov 17th - "Young Voices in Research for Health"

On the first day of the conference, we arrived early because of presidential security requirements. A group of traditional dancers greeted us at the conference center. The Malian President Amadou Toure inaugurated the forum. I had the chance to shake his hand while he was walking by the poster session!

The "Young Voices in Research for Health" session was scheduled for late afternoon. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, was in charge of introducing each of us. I prepared a short presentation on my essay titled "The dismantling of public health infrastructure: a natural disaster?"

Here is a group picture of the "Young Voices" 2008 cohort!

Sunday Nov 16th - Opening Reception

I checked in at Hotel Djenne at 12:00 am on Sunday. Here are two pictures of this rather "picturesque" hotel. The flight actually arrived around 10pm on Saturday but a few delays got on our way (e.g. waiting in line to exchange dollars for local francs; transportation?; and finally, our driver got lost trying to remember how to get to my hotel). The good thing is we had a nice night tour of Bamako.

Later on Sunday, I participated in a Satellite Session titled "Pro-poor health financing: Political lessons from Chile's success story." The workshop was organized by MLI (Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health).

In the evening, I attended the opening reception. Here is a picture of myself with two other "Young Voices", Lester and Amita, both physicians, from the Phillipines and India, respectively.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Greetings from Bamako!

Due to very limited internet access, I have not been able to post any messages until now. However, I just wanted to say that this has been a great experience so far. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I have many pictures and video. I will try to post some of that when I am at the Charles de Gaulle aiport or in San Francisco. For updates, go to the conference website

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting ready for the trip...

I will be leaving Friday morning for Mali. I am starting to get things ready for the trip. After a short layover in San Francisco, I will be landing in Paris. I will be at the airport for about six hours before taking the next plane to Bamako. It's a shame that I cannot leave the transfer area.

I will try to post some of my thoughts, pictures, etc., during my stay in Mali for the 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health. It should be very interesting!