McMaster University

McMaster University

McMaster Students Attend Conference on Ebola and the Threat of Re-emerging Diseases

The MSc in Global Health program at McMaster focuses on imminent issues in global health and challenges students to find innovative solutions and ways of thinking about these issues. As Ebola continues to dominate headlines, students in the Global Health program attended a recent conference on this topic.


MSc student Keith Colaco provides a summary of the conference:

On November 7, 2014, eleven Global Health students attended the 7th annual Global Health Symposium, hosted by the Graduate Student Alliance for Global Health at the University of Toronto.

The theme of this year’s symposium was “Ebola and the Threat of Re-emerging Diseases: Challenges for Local and Global Health”, and featured a panel of experts and health care professionals from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Doctors Without Borders Canada, and Public Health Ontario. They discussed challenges and controversies related to the deadly Ebola outbreak, while explaining the role of NGOs, public health principles and practices, containment, the ethics of experimental pharmaceuticals, priority setting and global inequities. Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to submit abstracts for oral and poster competitions, and a NGO Fair featured student-focused groups who were recruiting enthusiastic members to take part in global health initiatives.

The symposium consisted of three plenary sessions:

  1. Should investigational vaccines be used?
  2. The historical impact of infectious diseases on stability of health in the developing world
  3. Taking action and next steps

One of many topics which students found captivating was Dr. David Fisman’s lecture on the indirect effects of climate change on emerging infectious diseases. He discussed how changes in temperature can have dramatic effects on ecological conditions, creating a breeding ground for new diseases. Given the recent threat of Ebola in the United States, Dr. Brian Schwartz gave a detailed overview of Public Health Ontario’s Emergency Preparedness Plan. Dr. Kelly McDonald concluded the symposium by highlighting root causes of modern day epidemics, citing examples such as Dengue fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

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