EI Annual Forum: Building Up the Equity Community

The 2020 Annual Forum brought together 5 cohorts of Equity Fellows, including new 2020 Fellows. The Annual Forum consisting of 3-days of exchange of ideas and experiences gives the Fellows an opportunity to develop connections across cohorts and to solidify the identity of Equity Fellows. The aim is to multiply the impact of the Equity Initiative and to build a stronger regional community for health equity. The gathering took place January 26-29 in a retreat setting 3 hours north of Bangkok, adjacent to the 2020 Prince Mahidol Award Conference, which had a theme (“Accelerating Progress Towards UHC”) that resonated with Fellows’ commitment to expanding access to quality health care. 

Exchange among the Fellows was promoted in a variety of ways – both formal and informal.  Breakout sessions gave Fellows opportunities to delve into shared interests on health equity topics such as health systems, digital technology, children’s rights, and migrant health.  2019 Fellows presented proposals for their second-year projects to the full group, receiving valuable feedback from Senior Fellows as well as members of their own cohort. A panel consisting of CMB President Lincoln Chen and Trustee Suzanne Siskel, Atlantic Philanthropies President Chris Oechsli, and Mary Bassett, Director of Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, shared leadership reflections on the importance of personal values, risk taking, humility, and team building.  Distinguished Harvard economist and CMB Trustee Emeritus Dwight Perkins described the economic transformation of China, Korea, Malaysia, and other Asian countries, highlighting the challenges of ensuring that equity issues are integrated into economic development plans.

Equity Fellows undertake six 1-week learning sessions over the course of an initial year; the Annual Forum is both the culminating event in the 2019 Fellows’ initial program year and a cross-cohort gathering.  Equity Fellows participate in an orientation, followed by a 2-part Global Learning component, Asia Trek, Project Accelerator, and Global Forum. Launched in 2016 with funding from CMB and the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Equity Initiative is a 20-year program to nurture the development of a new generation of multi-sectoral leaders for health equity.