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WCPH 2020 Blog

The need for international cooperation has never been more important

  Programme related - Michael Moore - 16 Apr 2020 9:00 CET

Never was there a greater need for a World Congress on Public Health. The President of the USA has attacked the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic. There has been a stark demonstration of the susceptibility of vulnerable members of the world as they suffer the greatest burden of the COVID-19. Epidemiologist and other public health professionals have never been valued more highly. The need for international cooperation has never been more important.

Even as the pandemic spreads across the world, public health professionals have an opportunity to make a difference. The time is ripe to be opportunistic. Taking advantage of this appalling situation is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously. It is an opportunity to tackle governments over their lack of appropriate preparedness, over constant cuts to preventive health, over failures of adequate immunization, failures to deal with the social determinants of health, and over lax attitudes regarding long term planning.

The World Congress on Public Health will be an opportunity to consider the most effective ways to deliver public health more effectively at the local, national and global levels. Rome is the chosen venue for the Congress and the “Eternal City” will provide opportunity after opportunity for public health professionals from across the spectrum of public health research, practice and evaluation to come together in order to discuss, argue and find better and better solutions.

Just as the most recent Melbourne World Congress on Public Health was Australian centred with a global focus, it is to be expected that the Rome Congress will be Italian and European centred – but also with a global focus. Importantly, organisers have worked to ensure diversity with keynote addresses, workshops and the World Leadership Dialogues having a balance of international speakers from low and middle income countries, from Indigenous communities and from younger public health professionals. It is appropriate that diversity has been a key element of the planning of the Congress from its inception.

The submission of four thousand abstracts reflects the interest in sharing latest research as well as practice and ideas.

Judging by past Congresses in Melbourne, Kolkata and Addis Ababa – the Rome World Congress on Public Health will provide ample opportunity to listen, to learn and to engage. One of my own favourite memories of all of these Congresses was getting to know more public health professionals. Those who agreed with me as well as those who challenged my ideas along with those with new and interesting perspectives, all enhanced my own experience. The same can be true for all attendees. Additionally, the opportunity to discover the local areas, to enjoy the colour and the vibrancy of the World Congress countries has been to add the sauce to the meal. There is no doubt that Rome will provide extraordinary opportunities to enjoy the culture and the history of one of the most amazing cities in the world.

The Rome World Congress on Public Health is one that should not be missed. It does not matter if you are a seasoned practitioner, a crusty old professor or a young and vibrant student. The opportunity to share ideas, to engage across a diverse spectrum and to learn is one that should not be missed.

These are challenging times. However, they are also interesting times for public health professionals. The times will be even more interesting when we all meet in Rome. I look forward to it and I hope to see you there.

Dr Michael Moore AM PhD
Immediate Past-President World Federation of Public Health Associations (2016-2018)
Distinguished Fellow The George Institute University of New South Wales, Australia


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