The World Health Summit is a global forum dedicated to tackling health issues. It brings together stakeholders from various fields, such as politics, science, the private sector, and civil society. The three-day summit, held annually in Berlin, Germany, took place from 15-17 October under the theme "A Defining Year for Global Health Action." The summit covers many global health-related issues and aims to inspire innovative solutions for better health and well-being outcomes, setting a course for a healthier future.
Oliver Muindi Ndunge, the HER Voice Fund Administrator at Y+ Global, had the privilege of representing the team in person at the Summit, joining alongside Maximina Jokonya, the Interim Executive Director. Oliver is particularly interested in topics related to HIV, and, as a person living with HIV, he takes it upon himself to learn as much as possible and to be the change that the world needs. In this blog, Oliver will share his recap and experience from the Summit.
When I think of the "World Health Summit," I imagine a space where experts can have in-depth discussions about major diseases that have a significant impact on humanity worldwide. This includes but is not limited to the three most important diseases in human history: HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
I had the opportunity to attend several sessions that helped me to think critically about global health. I learned about the importance of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and how digital solutions can be harnessed for global health. I was amazed to see how activists and advocates are leading in these spaces and addressing issues that are important to Y+ Global's mission and vision. These sessions provided an excellent introduction to the Summit by discussing a world where health services are not denied based on bias or indifference and how we can use our social platforms to influence and shape global health. I also got the chance to meet old and new friends to discuss solutions, best practices, and challenges, which will inform the work I do for the Her Voice Fund.
During the event, I had the opportunity to interact with several individuals, particularly young people who attended the summit. We connected and talked about our experiences in our respective countries. We shared the significant challenges we encountered in our advocacy efforts and exchanged insights derived from these experiences. Our discussions revolved around the dynamics of our countries and areas of interest, such as Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW), Key Populations, and people who inject and use drugs. Additionally, I had the chance to meet with some researchers who were interested in various diseases that are prevalent in Africa and the impact this has on different communities.
I consider myself an active tweeter, and during one of my recent online engagements on X (formerly Twitter), two young individuals from Zimbabwe and Tanzania reached out to me, asking for mentorship. We connected over our mutual focus on HIV advocacy, and I was able to harness the power of social media in a positive way that has resulted in new connections and opportunities.
One of the sessions that stood out to me and had the most impact was the "Ending the AIDS Epidemic in Light of the Shrinking Civic Space" session. It was particularly significant to me as I come from Kenya, a country where there has been a substantial movement against the LGBTQ+ community, especially in my home county of Mombasa. The session provided insight into global perspectives on these issues, highlighting that detrimental and conservative laws, tied in with traditional beliefs, contribute significantly to barriers to access to HIV services and universal healthcare access. If we continue on this path, our goal of zero infections by 2030 may not be achieved; therefore, we must do more to break down those barriers to ensure people who need access to quality services can actually get them and create enabling environments that are free from stigma and discrimination.
Upon my return from the summit, I realised that my perspective on advocating for HIV and universal healthcare coverage had changed, and for the better. It allowed me to think creatively and outside the box, which will influence the way I approach my work going forward. I gained valuable insights into how to approach advocacy in sensitive areas and established networks that can support myself and my peers at various levels as we continue our fight against HIV and related issues. All in all, this has been an exceptional learning experience for me, and I thank the organisers and supporters for the opportunity.