The Department of Community Medicine and Public Health, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi, organized the 2nd Amrita International Public Health Conference 2019 (AMRITACON 2019), in collaboration with Harvard Global Health Institute, on November 25-26, 2019. The theme of the conference was “Gender, Public Health and Clinical Care: Evidence-informed Practice”. Both online and spot registration provisions were provided for delegates.

The inaugural ceremony was graced by Br. Sankara Chaithanya (Medical Director, School of Ayurveda, Amritapuri) who delivered the benedictory address. The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Beena M., IAS (Chairman, Cochin Port Trust). Dr.Mohanan Kunnummal (Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University of Health Sciences) delivered the keynote address.

The conference was organised by the Department of Community Medicine and General Medicine at AIMS. The organising secretaries were Dr. Aswathy S., Professor, Community Medicine from AIMS and Dr. Sarthak Das, Senior Advisor, Research Translation & Global Health Policy, Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Vijaya Kumar K., Professor & HOD, Community Medicine was the Chairperson of the conference.

The inaugural ceremony was graced by the Principal, Amrita School of Medicine Dr. (Col.) Vishal Marwaha, Dr. Rajesh Pai (Medical Superintendent, AIMS, Kochi), Dr. Beena K. V. (Additional Medical Superintendent, AIMS) and Dr. M. Gopalakrishna Pillai (HOD General Medicine Department, AIMS, Kochi).The souvenir of the conference was released by Dr. (Col.) Vishal Marwaha and handed over to Dr.Mohanan Kunnummal. Dr. Sowmya Swaminathan, Chief scientist at World Health Organization, greeted the gathering through a video message on gender-responsive health systems.

Prof. Megan Murray (Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard) delivered the prestigious Amrita oration entitled “Barriers to Women’s Leadership in Medicine and Global Health”. It was a thought-provoking, brilliant talk which highlighted the gender differences in the workplace in health care. She beautifully intertwined her own experiences with the evidence from studies.

Following this were two interesting plenary sessions on “Cervical Cancer Detection and New Technologies" by Dr. Cosette Wheeler (Professor in the Department of Pathology & Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico) and “Health and Development through the Gender Prism” delivered by none other than Ms. Sarada G. Muraleedharan IAS, Principal Secretary LSG (Rural), Government of Kerala. Dr. Wheeler highlighted the fact that there was a global shift from pap cytology to primary HPV testing which was enhanced by self-sampling approaches, low cost HPV vaccination and new image-based AI supported digital imaging methods. Ms. Saradha Muralidharan, IAS highlighted her experiences in women empowerment as Head of the Kudumbasree mission in its crucial formative years. She said that though Kerala ranks high in literacy level, there is high level of insecurity and violence in the state. She said that women have to understand their own rights and there should be a provision of right of space for every woman.

Post lunch the session started with “Wheel of Life: Gender Dimensions” which covered Adolescent Health, Reproductive and Maternal Health, 20 Milestones of 20th Century in Child Health and Gender Perspectives in Geriatric Health Care. The speakers were Dr. Sampath Kumari (Professor, MM Hospital Chennai), Dr. Basab Mukherji (FIGO Regional Co-ordinator), Dr. Piyush Gupta (Professor, UCMS New Delhi), and Dr. Alka Ganesh (Consultant, GKNM Hospital Coimbatore). This was followed by was a session on Gender Perspective in Chronic Diseases. This session covered the topics of CAD among Women, Oral Cancer in India, Women in HIV: Integration of Health Services in Resource Limited Settings. The speakers were Dr. Sivasankaran S. (Professor, SCTIMST, Thiruvananthapuram), Dr. Suzanne Nathan (Scientist, ICMR) and Dr. Sarthak Das (Harvard). The session was chaired by Dr. Radhamani K. (AIMS) and Dr. Shinu K. (SHSRC, Kerala).

Dr. Satish Kumar Singh (Addl. Director, New Delhi) delivered the plenary address on the topic of “Challenging Stereotypes: Reflections on Working with Men in the Context of Gender-Based Violence”. Dr. Louis Niessen (Professor In Health Economics, LSTM, UK) spoke on “Integrating Health Technology Assessment with Health Systems in India Process, Content, Aims and Methods in Economics”. The session on “Time for a Paradigm Shift in Health Systems” was delivered by Dr. Sreenivas A. Nair (Stop TB Geneva) and Dr. Rajani Ved (NHSRC, New Delhi). The sessions on “Public Health Approach to Deliver Mental Health Services and Prevention of Homelessness of Persons with Mental Health Problems in India and updates on the National Oral Health Programme was chaired by Dr. H. Sudarshan (KarunaTrust, Bengaluru).

There were five-panel discussions - HTA and Universal Health Care, Vaccine Economics, HTA in Medical Devices, Evidence-Informed Policy. The moderators were Dr. Viswanathan P. K. (AIMS), Dr. K. R. Thankappan (Professor, AMCHSS), Dr. Biju Soman (Professor, AMCHSS) and Dr. Rakesh P. S. (WHO Consultant TB). The panelists were Dr. Louis Niesen (Professor, UK), Dr. Barun Kanjilal (Health Economist Kolkata), D. T. Sundararaman (Chair TAC HTA), Dr. Indrani Gupta (Professor, New Delhi), Dr. Denny John (New Delhi), Dr. Rajamohanan K., Dr. SutapaNeogi, Dr. Jithesh Krishnan, Ms. Surupa Chakravarthy (Technosoft Kolkata), Dr. Ratna Devi (AMCHSS Thiruvananthapuram), Dr Ramankutty V., Dr.Shalu Jain (HTA India-New Delhi). For the session on Supplementing & Complementing Health System: Public-Private Partnership Dr. Jagadeesan moderated the session and Dr. K. Krishnakumar (AIMS), Dr. H. Sudarshan (Karuna Trust ,Bengaluru), Dr. Shailendra Hedge (Piramal Group) and Dr. Rakesh P. S. (WHO Consultant TB) spoke on the various aspects.

Free paper presentations numbering about 253 paper and poster were presented over the two days. The Department of Community Medicine is collaborating with BMC Public Health Journal to bring out a conference supplement of the abstracts. Dr. Leyanna Susan George, Scientific Convenor, Dr. Sobha George, Joint Secretary of the conference, Dr. Paul Francis, Treasurer, Dr. Sreelal, Dr. Sreelakshmi, Dr. ChitraTomy, Ms. Aleena Joy worked hard in the various capacities to make the program a success.

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