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Conference organizers (l to r) Jocelyn Tomkinson, Laura Bogaert, Rebecca Harry and Tanya Willar are all SFU health sciences students.

SFU hosting major global health conference

May 15, 2008

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SFU health sciences faculty organizers are expecting about 600 students, professionals and community advocates from across the Pacific Northwest to attend a major interdisciplinary global health conference May 23-25 at the Burnaby campus’ new health sciences building, Blusson Hall.

Participants at the sixth annual Western Regional International Health Conference, the first-ever in Canada, will discuss global health threats and disparities and ways to overcome them, in line with the conference theme Meeting the Challenge: the Millennium Development Goals and Beyond.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals that 189 United Nations member states agreed in 2000 to try and achieve by 2015. They include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

"A shortage of healthcare workers, climate change, our failure to address the health problems of invisible populations such as first nations, and the impact of globalization on developing countries are among the challenges impeding the achievement of the MDGs," says Jocelyn Tomkinson. The global health masters student heads a team of SFU and UBC students who organized the conference.

The two keynote speakers at the conference are physician, teacher and global health activist, Samantha Nutt, and UBC physician and medical professor, Julio Montaner.

Nutt, the founder of War Child Canada and one of Canada’s top five activists as voted by Time magazine, will talk about the role of global health professionals in advocating for change, and about how War Child Canada relates the MDGs to global health needs.

Montaner, a specialist in internal respiratory medicine, is the clinical director for the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital and one of Canada’s most respected doctors. He will talk about his experiences during more than 20 years of combating HIV/AIDS locally and globally.

For more information on the conference including SFU student and faculty presenters visit www.sfu.ca/wrihc2008/

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