The Equity Initiative’s Annual Forum plays an important role in building a sense of community across cohorts of Fellows. The Third Annual Forum, held in Pattaya, Thailand, January 25-29, 2019, demonstrated that Fellows feel a strong connection to EI and are enthusiastic about introducing incoming Fellows to the goal of advancing health equity in Southeast Asia and China. Forty-nine Senior and current Fellows participated in the Annual Forum, with 10 incoming Fellows joining the sessions as observers.
One of the early sessions at the Annual Forum featured Tim Evans, Senior Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank. Dr Evans, in a dialogue with CMB President Lincoln Chen, shared highlights of his leadership journey with Fellows and also talked about the challenge of fighting corruption. To round off the leadership dialogue with 2018 Fellows, Lincoln Chen highlighted milestones in his own career in philanthropy, academia, NGOs, and global health. Later in the program, Lincoln Chen interviewed social entrepreneur Mechai, the Thai “condom king” on his lifelong innovations in family planning, combatting HIV/AIDS and his recent “bamboo schools.”
The retreat had a panel discussion on “Fostering Health Equity in Asia,” featured Dr. Evans, Prof. Dr. Tomás Reinoso of Cuba’s National School of Public Health, and Attorney Paula Tanquieng of the AGAP Coalition in the Philippines. The three panelists brought their expertise to suggest ways that countries can bridge economic, social, and regional gaps to improve access to quality healthcare services.
The 2018 Fellows also presented their ideas for their second-year projects. Proposed topics include improving access to healthcare and livelihood support for urban poor women; engaging stakeholders in the mapping of health facilities distribution; and promoting health equity in post-conflict areas, among other topics. The Annual Forum closed with a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the introductory year for 2018 Fellows. After the Forum, many of the Fellows traveled to Bangkok to attend the Prince Mahidol Award Conference and connect with other Atlantic Fellows.