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It was otherwise an unremarkable November bus ride from Antwerp to Montreux; cold, but in the rather warm company of early career researchers who were to soon become the first cohort of Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH; http://www.ev4gh.net). On that ride, 52 early career health system researchers from 30 countries began a journey. Little did they know it would continue for over a decade, gathering in its wake, 208 more early career researchers from 60 countries, overwhelmingly from the global south. The EV4GH programme has come a long way, from the first meeting at the 2010 annual colloquium of Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, and the subsequent road trip from Antwerp to the first Global Symposium on Health Systems Research at Montreux, Switzerland.
EV4GH began as a leadership and capacity-building programme incubated within the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp (ITM-A) by a team led by Professor Wim Van Damme. With an explicit commitment to switching the poles (between the global north to the global south), the team at ITM-A sought to design a unique programme to provide early career researchers with communication skills to critically examine global health agendas and events, and more importantly to not become passive consumers of evidence in global health events (such as the one that was, at the time, coming up in Montreux).
This was a disruptive idea. Early career researchers typically enter global events in awe of the authoritative and prominent names featured in keynotes and panels. Indeed, the first EV4GH programme began by acknowledging the elderly white male high-income country dominance of the global health agenda. The programme wanted to do something about it, beginning at that first symposium in Montreux. This year, 2020, marks the 10th year of this programme and offers an opportunity to look back and look within. …
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