My involvement with CSIH has been as varied as my professional experiences. Between the 1990s and 2006, I lived abroad as a diplomatic spouse and health and development professional. Wherever possible, I linked professionally and personally with CSIH.
When CSIH undertook an HIV/AIDS prevention and control project in the Ukraine in the late 1990s, I participated on behalf of Health Canada. We travelled to Kiev as a dynamic and cohesive team of Canadians with a variety of skills. CSIH planned and coordinated our multiple interactions that merged as a unique, relevant and innovative approach to technical exchange at all levels of government and civil society.
Having lived in Romania under the tight grip of former dictator Nicholae Ceaucescu from 1978 – 1981 as a Canadian diplomatic spouse, I had an intuitive understanding of the social and economic stresses being experienced by the newly liberated countries of the former communist block. The multi-level approach to working with Canadian partners and the new Ukrainian government on various areas of health policy, health promotion, and grass roots community outreach to tackle the burgeoning problem of youth addiction and HIV/AIDS was highly motivating from a professional standpoint.
From the beginning, we enjoyed an excellent rapport with the first ED of CSIH, Chuck Shields, and later extended this rapport to his successor, Janet Hatcher Roberts. From 2006 to 2012 I worked with the International Affairs Directorate of Health Canada and liaised with the ED and staff as strong representatives of civil society and global health. Fast forward to 2012, when I joined the CSIH Board of Directors. I was co-chair from 2013-2016. Five years on, I am still on the board and excited to be there!
My fondest memories have repeated themselves over the years at each Canadian Conference on Global Health (CCGH) organized by CSIH. I have listened with intensity to specialized health experts and social advocates from Canada and around the world as they presented issues on global health that could be considered controversial, but which nonetheless needed to be discussed (eg:, HIV/AIDS, approaches to research and the use of data, impacts of international trade on global health, how to tackle social and health inequities within and outside Canada that require our attention etc.). These conferences have kept me up to date and in sync with the trends in global and international health – both nationally and abroad.
Over its 40 years, CSIH and its members have touched many lives, including mine. We have grown in knowledge, accumulated some wisdom, and developed healthy insights. Here’s to another 40 good years!