I am Elena Marbán Castro, a Ph.D. candidate at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH), thanks to their Travel Grant for students, giving a presentation.
The days before the Congress, I went to Belgium for holidays in order to visit other cities. I would really recommend doing it every time you have to travel for work or you are attending a Congress. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the country, submerge in their culture and food!
After those wonderful days, on Monday afternoon the Congress started with a musical performance and incredible opening ceremony lectures. The thing that shocked me the most were the talks from four young professionals from four different continents sharing their desires in the future of global health. It was incredible to see them on that huge stage, inspiring us by their speeches. I guess it was an exciting moment for us, early-career professionals, but also for senior scientists.
Tuesday was the most important day for those of us who are working with Zika virus. The day included talks about the Zika virus including epidemiological studies, multicentric international alliances, diagnostics, laboratory, case series etc. Personally, it was the day why I was there: to talk about the surveillance system of Zika virus in returning pregnant travellers from endemic areas, a study we are conducting in Barcelona. First, I was a bit nervous but at the end, it was a great experience and I am looking forward to giving a presentation again. Apart from Zika, there were many parallel sessions about other infectious diseases.
This Congress is characterized by involving different medical topics and included eight parallel sessions. It is almost impossible to know all that is happening there. But there are many coffee and lunch breaks, poster presentations and time for networking where you can approach people and ask them about their research.
On Wednesday some of the topics covered were related to antibiotic resistance, fever in the returning traveller, access to drugs, prevention of diabetes in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), emerging outbreaks, and refugees’ health. The theme of Thursday focused on a more general view of Global Health, with such an interesting topic as equity in health; but also, sustainable health systems, new digital medicine tools, and neglected tropical diseases. On Wednesday evening, we organized a Global Health Hangout between the GHNGN and the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (ITM). The event was a great success and more than 30 young professionals, master students, PhD candidates etc. attended. All of us had a common goal: to contribute to Global Health.
Last day we attended the closing ceremony where there was a summary of all the previous days, the new logo of the European Society was presented and we were all invited to continue generating results to see us all in two years’ time for the next ECTMIH which will be held in Liverpool.
During the whole week, social media channels were full of comments and photos from the participants, but also from professionals in communication who prepared a video summary every day including speakers and participants interviews. Here is the link. I would highly recommend you to watch one at least the summary of each day to have an overview of the Congress:
If I to choose something from this whole week, it would be the people I met there. I had the opportunity to meet many people from my field of study, but also other young professionals from different disciplines and views; people with whom I spent hours and hours talking during the whole Congress and now, I consider them as friends.
When you live such an intense experience it is always a pity to say goodbye, difficult to assume this time is over. But we should take all the good things from it and wait for the next moment to arrive as soon as possible.
See you at the next Congress!
Elena Marbán Castro is a Research Assistant at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Chair of the Board at the GHNGN. Her interests in Global Health are infectious diseases that affect the most vulnerable populations, mainly pregnant women, and early infants.