Top global health events: A primer

The European Development Days is the continent’s largest annual event of its kind. In 2008, the event, hosted by the European Commission, was held in Strasbourg, France. Photo by: European Commission

Whether you’re a job seeker, a veteran professional or just want to stay on top of the latest trends in global health, attending a key industry event can be an invaluable career move.

It may not only be good for networking, but also for exploring best practices and new technology.

And there is no shortage of events in the booming field of global health. Every year universities, nonprofits and organizations such as the United Nations host a number of high-profile events to connect global health professionals from around the globe.

Here are some of the most prominent global health events worldwide:

European Development Days

  • Organizers: European Commission

  • Next event: Oct. 22-24, 2009, in Stockholm, Sweden

  • Features: plenary sessions, panel and round-table discussions, workshops, networking events, and a professional fair called Development Village

This event attracts some 4,000 people and 1,500 organizations from the development community. Delegates from 125 countries are represented, including heads of state. The European Development Days aims to make development aid more effective, build a global coalition against poverty, and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference

  • Organizers: Russian government; UNAIDS; Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria; International AIDS Society

  • Next event: Oct. 28-30, 2009, in Moscow, Russia

  • Features: plenary sessions, scientific sessions, skills-building workshops

EECAAC is the leading regional forum on public health and HIV/AIDS. Its theme is to strengthen regional cooperation, and achieve the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. In 2008, more than 2,000 people from 52 countries participated.

Pan-African Malaria Conference

  • Organizer: Multilateral Initiative on Malaria

  • Next event: Nov. 2-6, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya

  • Features: plenary and scientific sessions, round-table discussions

PAMC receives support from key global health players such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Path. Expected participants include representatives from universities, research institutions, government health departments, private-sector groups, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations from across the globe.

APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition

  • Organizer: American Public Health Association

  • Next event: Nov. 7-11, 2009, in Philadelphia, USA

  • Features: scientific sessions, business expo, public health CareerMart

The APHA meeting is reported to be the oldest and largest gathering of public health professionals in the world, attracting more than 13,000 national and international physicians, administrators, nurses, educators, researchers, epidemiologists, and related health specialists. APHA’s program addresses current and emerging health science, policy, and practice issues in an effort to prevent disease and promote health.

Health Care Globalization Summit

  • Organizer: Medicatree International, Consumer Health World

  • Next event: Nov. 10-13, 2009, in Miami, USA

  • Features: business expo, medical travel summit, medicine consumer expo and workshops, health economics summit

Five conferences within one event, on medical travel and medical tourism, national workforce health economics, health care innovations, stem cell regenerative medicine - plus a consumer expo with workshops. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is expected to address the crowd this year.

European AIDS Conference

  • Organizer:European AIDS Clinical Society

  • Next event: Nov. 11-14, 2009, in Cologne, Germany

  • Features: plenary lectures, scientific sessions

The conference offers scientific lectures and symposia as well as sessions examining new research in the field of HIV medicine. The event seeks to promote an interest in clinical HIV research among young researchers and clinicians.

Forum on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  • Organizer: DfID, USAID, UNAIDS, Peruvian Ministry of Health

  • Next event: Nov. 21-23, 2009, in Lima, Peru

FORO brings together leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean in government, civil society, international agencies, and research. Gathering 21 national programs of HIV in the region, the event seeks to strengthen the region’s response to the HIV through discussion of the challenges and opportunities in community and public health approaches.

Union World Conference on Lung Health

  • Organizer: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

  • Next event: Dec. 3-7, 2009, in Cancún, Mexico

  • Features: symposiums, workshops, post-graduate courses, plenary sessions

This year’s conference focuses on poverty and lung health. The 40th annual event is relevant for health professionals dealing with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia, tobacco-related diseases and other ailments of the lung, as well as those dealing with health consequences of air pollution.

Unite For Sight Global Health & Innovation

  • Organizer:Unite For Sight

  • Next event: April 17-18, 2010, in New Haven, USA

  • Features: plenary sessions, keynote addresses, networking reception

Next year, keynote speakers include Jeffrey Sachs and 200 others representing a multitude of global health disciplines. Sessions will be run by the directors of Acumen Fund, Partners in Health, Save The Children, Good Capital, mothers2mothers, Root Cause, and others. Event hosts expect 2,200 participants from more than 55 countries.

Global Health Council

  • Organizer:Global Health Council

  • Next event: June 14-18, 2010, in Washington, USA

  • Features: panel discussions, research symposium, workshops, film series, business and technology expo, awards banquet

For 36 years, the council has assembled nonprofit, donor and medical professionals to the annual conference in the U.S. capital. The 2009 event attracted more than 2,000 participants, including most of the key global health groups.

International AIDS Conference

  • Organizer: AIDS 2010, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations; Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and more

  • Next event: July 18-23, 2010, in Vienna, Austria

  • Features: plenary sessions, symposium, skills building workshops, satellite meetings, global village and youth program

The International AIDS Conference gathers those working in the field of HIV, as well as policymakers and persons living with HIV. It seeks to evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learned, and collectively chart a course forward. An estimated 25,000 participants and 2,500 media will be attending.

HIV/AIDS Implementers

  • Organizer: World Bank, WHO, The Global Fund, UNICEF, UNAIDS, PEPFAR

  • Next event: 2010

  • Features: plenary and other sessions

The HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting gathers together program implementers to share best practices and lessons learned in the global AIDS response. It is the only meeting of its kind focused specifically on program implementation. The 2009 meetings recently concluded in Windhoek, Namibia. The 2010 date and location have yet to be determined.

GHEC Conference & Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Global Health

  • Organizer: Global Health Education Consortium

  • Next event: April 9-11, 2011, in Cuernavaca, Mexico

  • Features:abstracts, presentations

Titled “Alliances for Global Health Education: Learning from South-South Collaboration,” this conference will bring together faculty and students from institutions throughout the Americas to share experiences and foster alliances for global health education. The conference will address cross-cutting issues such as human displacement, epidemiological transition, non-communicable and chronic diseases.

IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention

  • Organizer: International AIDS Society

  • Next event: 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa

  • Features: workshops, poster exhibition, plenary sessions, engagement tour

The world’s largest open scientific conference on HIV/AIDS will be co-hosted in 2011 by South African-based NGO Dira Sengwe. Held every two years, the conference attracts about 5,000 delegates from all over the world. It is an opportunity for the world’s leading scientists, clinicians, public health experts and community leaders to examine the latest developments in HIV-related research.

International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research

  • Organizer: International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research

  • Next event: 2011 in Quebec City, Canada

  • Features: sessions

ISSDR conducts biennial scientific meetings that address the entire range of the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences related to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Meeting venues alternate between Europe and North America. The conference addresses the entire breadth of research on STDs, their microbiology, virology, immunobiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, prevention and public health initiatives.

International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific

  • Organizer: UNAIDS, International AIDS Society, AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific

  • Next event: 2011

Every two years, ICAAP brings people from various backgrounds in Asia and the Pacific region to meet and share knowledge, skills, ideas and research findings related to HIV/AIDS. Objectives include fostering dialogue, showcasing best practices, advocating for greater political commitment, and improving HIV prevention. The 2009 event recently concluded in Bali, Indonesia. The next event had not been scheduled at the time this article was published.

About the author

  • Jody Nesbitt

    Jody is a Devex international correspondent in Washington, D.C. Previously, he worked as a monitor in South Africa's provincial parliament, as well as a researcher for the Center for Economic and Policy Research and for Glass Lewis & Co. He has studied at Rutgers University, the University of Natal and the University of the West Indies, earning a bachelor's in political science and a master's in international relations.