The day kick started with a key note speech by Dr. Okello Emmy a Consultant Physician cardiologist on Updates on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) specifically looking at cardiovascular diseases and cancers. He highlighted the current issues in NCDs that need further research which included the area of biomedical sciences, epidemiology, clinical trials and implementation science. He acknowledged the contribution of MEPI-CVD project that has strengthened research capacity in cardiovascular disease which has laid a foundation for future research. He also mentioned research being the first step to effective cancer control since it will provide evidence on which cancer control and prevention efforts/approaches will be based.
Prof. Martin Veller the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa discussed the role of Medical Education in achieving the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). He emphasized the primary goals of any health system which include among disease prevention, universal health coverage etc. He noted that health is about people and it is healthy people who prosper. He concluded by urging medical schools to orient their training towards the needs of communities if they are to remain relevant.
The plenary session was concluded by a key note speech from Prof. Paul Bohjanen whose discussion was on academic collaborations as a tool to achieve health for sustainable development. He shared his experiences in Uganda under the Makerere –Minnesota University Collaboration dating way back in 2000 when he came to Uganda to teach about HIV treatment. He notably recalled his observation then of HIV positive patients deteriorating instead of improving after ART initiation. This led to the description and further studies in Immune reconstitution Syndrome and its association with cryptococcal meningitis. He shared his happiness on the lessons learnt through creating true partnerships, mentorship and building trust over time.
A very fruitful discussion followed and participants discussed on how training institutions can improve their training through benchmarking on the successful programs elsewhere. Key issues to sustaining a successful collaborations which included funding, developing relationships with the people on the ground and maintaining them as well as capacity building through mentorship were highlighted.
The rest of the day was for parallel scientific and poster presentations with the following sub-themes; merging and re-emerging diseases, NCDs, occupational health and safety, HIV/AIDS, Public Health, Health systems, Infectious Diseases, Cardiovascular Diseases, Research and Development, Maternal and Child Health as well as Health Professions Education. Scientific papers were presented and discussed highlighting the key issues relevant to SDGs.