The Equity Initiative: Successful First Program Year Draws to a Close

The inaugural year of CMB’s Equity Initiative came to a close in early February, as the 15 Fellows gathered in Bangkok for the Prince Mahidol Award Ceremony (PMAC), held February 1-3, and The Equity Initiative’s Annual Forum. PMAC 2017’s theme, “Addressing Health of Vulnerable Populations for an Inclusive Society,” resonated with the interests of the Equity Fellows, who represent a new generation of leaders for health equity.

The Annual Forum began on January 31, the eve of PMAC’s opening session, with a Global Advisory Board meeting chaired by Amartya Sen, who also served as PMAC’s keynote speaker. After the close of PMAC, the Annual Forum resumed with a two-hour private dialogue between former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Professor Sudhir Anand of Oxford University. In this off-the-record discussion, the former Oxford student and his faculty tutor discussed the challenges of political leadership, universal health coverage, and ASEAN integration.

Immediately after the dialogue, the Fellows journeyed to Khao Yai for a multi-day retreat, joined by nine members of the incoming 2017-2018 Fellows cohort. Fellows presented their proposals for the equity-related projects they may receive seed funding to implement during their post-fellowship year. CMB President Lincoln Chen encouraged Fellows to start mapping the resource pool of potential sources of support for their projects, current and future, and taking government, international aid, philanthropic, and business sources into account. Fellows also offered feedback on program components and, in a symbol of their commitment to The Equity Initiative, deposited items and personal notes into a time capsule, to be opened at the conclusion of the 20-year program.

The Fellows’ second year represents the beginning of their lifetime association with The Equity Initiative and setting the foundation for a sustainable equity community. For the Equity Initiative program, next steps include networking the graduating fellows through their second-year projects; facilitating ongoing connections, and engaging the inaugural Fellows in future Annual Forums and other program activities and gatherings.