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Eventful month in global health

CIDR Panel with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Wow. What a month! A stirring address from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia. A few days later, a high-spirited celebration of our global health community’s progress over the past year at WGHA’s Pioneers of Global Health.

Let’s start with the Pioneers of Global Health Awards dinner. It isn’t often that we have a chance to pause and take stock of the achievements made in the effort to combat inequities faced by tens of millions.

More than 200 scientists, researchers, leaders and supporters – along with the newly-named President of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce – reconnected or made new connections and celebrated those accomplishments in style, all while supporting WGHA.

We honored the Pioneers of Global Health Award winners, Jane Hutchings from PATH, Dr. Christopher Fox from IDRI and the entire team from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. More about these extraordinary winners can be found here.

And since we do things a little differently at WGHA, we highlighted the year’s successes in song. That is not a typo. Our own Kristen Tetteh provided the soundtrack for everything from Fred Hutch’s opening of the Uganda Cancer Institute to PATH’s release of the Caya diaphragm. You have to see it to believe it. See the photos and video.

A few days before Pioneers, at the Center for Infectious Disease Research’s Gala for Global Health, President Johnson Sirleaf captivated the crowd with her account of Liberia’s crusade against Ebola. Following her speech, I was honored to interview her, along with Dr. Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Alan Aderem, President of the Center for Infectious Disease Research. They offered somber reflections on the challenges revealed by this tragedy as well as the opportunities, with the hope that we don’t squander the lessons learned through the devastating Ebola outbreak. (You can see the program, including the panel and President Sirleaf’s speech around the 38 minute mark here.

As President Johnson Sirleaf remarked to the audience of global health supporters that evening, the Ebola crises profoundly emphasized the interconnectedness of our world. The common theme of these events is the tireless dedication by so many in our city and state to transform the status quo. The work we do here has far-reaching impacts beyond what any of us can imagine. And as these two very different events highlighted, no matter our research, program, academic or institute focus, we’re stronger together.