Launch of the Salon Series "Innovation in Global Health and Development"

Washington D.C. 02 May 2010The International Virtual e-Hospital working together with the Embassy of Slovenia, European Union Delegation in the United States, Global Health Council, the Center for Global Health at the George Washington University, and the Pan American Health Organization/WHO organized on April 7, 2010, The World Health Day, the first Salon Event in the series of "Salon Lectures", which are dedicated to the topics in "Innovation in Global Health and Development."

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The topic of the first salon lecture was 'Redefining global health diplomacy'. All lectures were oriented to the meaning and importance of the innovative technologies, new actors, economic constraints, and changing global health priorities. At the opening of the first Salon Event, Ambassador Roman Kirn, and the key initiator as well as the Science and Organizing Chair of the event, Dr. Mateja de Leonni Stanonik, MD, PhD, warmly greeted all the guests.

Dr. de Leonni Stanonik introduced the Salon Lecture series which were developed to present the main forum on the world-stage for the much needed multi-disciplinary discussion on the interplay of health, health care, development, and advances in technology on the global level. Dr. de Leonni Stanonik stressed that the key inspiration for the initiation of the Salons represents the work of Prof. Dr. Rifat Latifi, MD, FACS, from the University of Arizona and the International Virtual e-Hospital.

As a true innovator Prof. Latifi presented the idea of rebuilding the destroyed health care system with the help of telemedicine and advanced technologies in the war-stricken Kosovo. The idea was very well received and also supported by the leaders at the G-8 Summit in Berlin in 2000. Since then his work and that of his colleagues has transitioned from "blood and guts to bits of bytes" in the newly designed modern medical system which is being extended to the neighbouring countries in the Balkans as well as other developing countries in the Middle East and South America.

It is in this new telemedicine equipped health care system in Kosovo where doctors and other health care professionals of various ethnicities are now working together shoulder-to-shoulder, where the meaning of global health diplomacy reveals its true potential - as many of these people may have been shooting at each other in the not too distant past.

The Salon Series hopes to bring together the experts from the European Union and United States and invoke a meaningful dialogue. Specifically, each Salon event will focus on how technological advances affect disease trends, diagnosis and treatment delivery, public health, and economic development in the dynamically changing international environment in order to promote international collaboration.

Dr. de Leonni Stanonik emphasized that the Salon lecture series is dedicated to showcase the innovators, be it experts in medicine and/or technology, scholars, or be it political leaders, policy makers, diplomatic representatives, and public figures from the United States, European Union as well as the international community who are involved in the field of global health and whose work is paving the way for new perspectives and approaches.

The focus of the First Salon Event was on redefining the Global Health Diplomacy since it aims to capture the multi-level and multi-actor negotiation processes that shape the global policy environment for health and science. Global health policy impacts the health and well being of individuals throughout the world. The facts are that a) we are living in a globalized world; b) that health is increasingly seen as a key factor in achieving international goals; and c) new technologies are playing an important role in providing new ways of addressing health issues and their importance will grow in the future. Therefore the broad constituency of those concerned with global challenges need to be aware of these developments.

In the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Jonas Stoere: "Health is simply too important to be left to the Health Ministers, and development is too important to be left to the Finance and Economic Ministers alone."

The participants of the First Salon Event were enraptured with the speech by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. She explained the role of health diplomacy in the United States and the administration's views on the health diplomacy. Dr. Benjamin stressed the importance of ethics, humanitarianism and community in the medical service.

Panelists, all internationally recognized experts, introduced very important and pressing issues, answers and innovative solutions in the sphere of global health. They first introduced and defined global health diplomacy in various ways; presented telemedicine and advanced technologies as a paradigm shift in global health diplomacy; described the International Health Regulations (IHR) as global health governance mechanism and framework for capacity building; assessed complexities of global health and development, examined the range of priorities attached to Global Health Diplomacy, both in the European Union, United States, and developing countries; as well as identified training needs in Global Health Diplomacy.

The main speakers included Dr. Andrzej Rys, MD, Director of Public Health and Risk Assessment in the European Commission; Dr. Jon Andrus, MD, Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and Professor of Global Health, GWU; Ms. Smita Baruah, Director, Government Relations, Global Health Council; Dr. Scott C. Ratzan, MD, MPA, Vice President of Global Health for Johnson & Johnson, Adjunct Professor of Global Heatlh, GWU; and Dr. Mateja de Leonni Stanonik, MD, PhD, from the International Virtual e-Hospital and GWU's Dept. of Neurology and Global Health.

This forum presents an eclectic world-stage, with access to most unique audiences including the diplomatic corps, the scientists and clinicians, the local, federal, and international authorities, the politicians as well as policy-makers involved in the issues of health, health care, technology, and development. Dr. de Leonni Stanonik stated that, above all, this Forum is dedicated to the motivated public which has the tools to help themselves as wireless technology has created a global environment where there is hardly any place in the world left that cannot make the first mile and the last mile leap into global information, prevention, disease management and consultation. Thereby facilitating the old approach and practice in (global) health where medics and governments served a passive and helpless public. The Salon Series was truly designed with the hope to empower the public.

The first Salon event engendered a wide response, particularly among the professional public. Over 120 people participated in the lectures. Both the public and the panelists created an unforgettable atmosphere, where one could really feel the meeting and transmission of ideas, good will, and expertise.

The Embassy of Slovenia is honored to have organized the first Salon Lecture Series Event together with the International Virtual E-Hospital, Global Health Council, Pan American Health Organization/WHO, Center for Global Health at George Washington University, and the EU delegation in the United States.

The Second Salon Event on the topic of Advanced Technologies, Healthcare Systems & Healthcare Research will be held by the EU delegation in the United States, and will take place on May 6, 2010. One Health for One World is needed.


Dr. Mateja de Leonni Stanonik

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