In spite of increasing digitalisation of the society, in-person conferences continue to remain as a critical forum for share knowledge and building networks. Major conferences are usually held in high-income counties .Participation from researchers in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) continue to remain a challenge. A major factor associated with low participation is high cost. Promoting diversity and inclusiveness in global health events is a long road to walk on a few ways by which the global health community can promote participation are:
- Holding events in low and middle-income countries– Since most of the research and consequently the researchers are stationed in LMIC it only makes sense to hold events there, irrespective of where the organisers are stationed in.
- Funders putting in clause(s) in granting mechanisms to ensure that only LMIC researchers get to present the work done in their countries . This is a workable solution if funders are serious about building research capacity in LMICs as they are in a position to ensure high income country collaborators are not the ones presenting work conducted in foreign countries.
- Offset conference associated costs– Almost all conferences provide lowered registration fees and some provide partial stipends to LMIC participants. The deficit is sometimes as huge as a few months of salary. Providing full financial support for registration, visa, travel and accommodation (as is being done by the BMJ Global Health Grant for 11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health on 16-20 September 2019 in Liverpool, UK) is the need of the hour.
It is time the global health community moves away from all the tokenism that currently plagues global health conferences. Active measure to change to ensure LMIC participation in conferences is required.
About the author :
Dr. Soumyadeep Bhaumik is a medical doctor and an international public health specialist from India. He is the Associate Editor , Evidence Syntheses for BMJ Global Health and tweets at @DrSoumyadeepB.
Competing interests: I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare that l am an Associate Editor in BMJ Global Health and Analyses Advisor, The BMJ. I have no other relevant conflicts of interests to declare.