Health and Society
Saint Joseph University of Beirut is strongly committed in promoting healthy Arab Societies on different levels. Through a rich expertise and regional and international collaborations, the University is conducting various research and development projects with a large impact on health and societies. This is why Beirut with its Saint Joseph University was the perfect location for holding a conference titled ‘Towards Healthy Arab Societies: Promoting Maternal and Reproductive Health’. The conference was organized by the Arab German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA), the Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ) and the Global Health Next Generation Network (GHNGN). It brought together experts in the field of Maternal and Reproductive Health (MRH) from a great variety of backgrounds and countries and took place on 20 - 21 September 2018.
The conference covered very diverse and complex topics such as the lack of health data in Arab countries, female genital mutilation, which still affects many girls and women around the world, quality of the health system, among many other issues. Additionally, implementation research was discussed, for example the question on how technology could be used in remote areas to improve MRH. Also, the topics of women and child health in the context of SDGs and Agenda 2030 and gender and poverty dimensions of medical causes of maternal mortality and morbidity were debated, by focusing on the social and economic factors affecting the health of girls and women in vulnerable areas. Here, a SWOT analysis was used to plan possible interventions and context-specific implementation.
Moreover, the financing of MRH services was discussed. In these sessions, experts in the field questioned the stability of health systems depending on development aid and how to move towards more stable and sustainable quality healthy systems. Additionally, the participants examined advocacy tools that could create effective national action plans in the Arab region. During workshop session on the role of education in gender and maternal health, the participants had the opportunity to debate about the different education systems in regards to sexual education in countries such as Lebanon and Spain. They identified barriers affecting access to reproductive and sexual education and proposed solutions to address it. Lastly, the participants talked about health innovation and design thinking to face MRH challenges.
Some of the issues that were raised among all the sessions included the right and access to health, universal health coverage, gender equity, importance of research and quality of data, among others. The participants reached the conclusions that what is still needed is more research in the area of MRH, more experts in the field, more expenditures on health care, more access to health care for vulnerable populations, and definitely more forums like this one where ideas exchange is favorable.
The AGYA conference at USJ in Beirut was an extraordinary opportunity to share knowledge and experience with researchers in the field of MRH from different backgrounds, with the common goal of raising awareness and improving maternal, child and reproductive health in Arab countries.
DATE and Venue of the project
20 - 21 September 2018
Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon
Pictures by AGYA