The COHESION Project’s first Global Advisory Board Meeting

On the 21st of November 2016 at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) in a conference room overlooking the old town of Geneva, a significant event was held for the COHESION Project. This was the first Global Advisory Board Meeting. So why was this important?

First and foremost, it was the first time that the Global Advisory Board of the COHESION Project met. This meeting brought together 11 of the 12 Board members, providing a unique and diverse group of people from UNAIDS, WHO, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Permanent Missions of Mozambique and Peru, the State of Geneva and the HUG. This group of policy makers, clinicians and researchers all shared a common passion for global health.

COHESION presented its work and got feedback. Dr. Claire Somerville, COHESION Co-Investigator and lead on the Policy Analysis, presented the preliminary results of the Global Policy Analysis.

This meeting was a great opportunity to exchange and learn from the experience of our Advisors. Most importantly, this meeting was a chance for the COHESION Team to be challenged, in what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Our Advisors challenged COHESION with regards to the interventions and how to evaluate them. They argued that the development and evaluation should use both qualitative and quantitative methods and also use an iterative process. They all saw the value of what COHESION was trying to achieve and stressed that we have the potential to make a difference. P. Perel insisted that this impact needed to be measured and reported.

Discussions also focused on the wider determinants of Noncommunicable (NCD) and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). P. Godfrey-Fausett recommended that COHESION look beyond health systems and look at “systems for health”. F. Romao and Y. Jackson added that the issue of vulnerability and gender needed to be examined in different ways, for example making services sensitive to men and women. S. Aebischer insisted on the necessity to adopt a non-vertical approach and to develop interventions at the community level as behaviour change is needed to reduce the risk of obtaining an NCD as well as for managing them.

So what are the lessons from our first meeting? COHESION needs to continue to think about the impact of our project and how to continuously measure this. As noted by A. Costello: “NCDs are the great big dark matter of health. They are invisible to most people, but are massive.” Through COHESION, we hope to ensure that NCDs and NTDs and the people who are faced with these health challenges become more visible and empowered to tackle these dark matter. We will strive to do this with the communities and systems we are working with. Together, we believe we can make a difference.

*From left to right

  • Dr. Anthony Costello, Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the WHO
  • Dr. Claire Somerville, CO-PI COHESION, Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Dr. Sigiriya Aebischer, Senior Resident, Tropical and Humanitarian Medicine Division, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)
  • Dr. Francelina Romao, Health Counselor, Embassy of Mozambique in Geneva
  • Prof. François Chappuis, Head of the Division of Tropical and Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)
  • Dr. David Beran, Principal Investigator COHESION Project, Geneva University
  • Dr. Peter Godfrey-Faussett, Senior Science Adviser, Office of the UNAIDS Science Panel, UNAIDS
  • Ms. Maria Jesus Alonso Lormand, Director of the International Solidarity Service, State of Geneva
  • Dr. Yves Jackson, Senior Consultant, Division of Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)
  • Dr. Pablo Perel, Director of the Centre for Global NCDs at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Senior Science Advisor at the World Heart Federation
  • Dr. Gilles Eperon, Senior Resident, Tropical and Humanitarian Medicine Unit, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)
  • Mr. Carlos Briceño, Ministro Consejero, Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN

 Not present: Ms. Lauranne Botti, Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) Manager at the Council on Research for Development (COHRED)