FDU Experts Examine Global Health Issues at U.N. Conference in Geneva

A delegation of University faculty and students traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), from July 2 to July 4, 2009.  The conference was part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) annual session.

Titled, “Threats to the Health and Sustainable Development of Nations,”  the conference brought together non-governmental organization (NGO) members to address global health issues including the social determinants of health, impact of the global economic crisis on health, and threats to the public health measures outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. 

Minerva Guttman, professor of nursing and director of the Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, headed the FDU delegation, which included Glennena Haynes-Smith, professor, Nursing and Allied Health; Cecilia Alvarez, adjunct faculty, University College; and Elsie Jolade and Patricia Ukaigwe, students in the University’s doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.

“The problems of developing nations in terms of health needs and personnel to deliver care is enormous,” said Guttman. “Developed countries have a moral and ethical responsibility to reach out to developing nations to create new leaders and educators. Health is a global issue. We must solve these problems together.”

During the conference, Guttman was approached by representatives from Nigeria and Sri Lanka who asked for help to combat the shortage of students and faculty in those countries. Guttmann foresees an opportunity to provide assistance through international student exchange. “Nigeria specifically requested that we send faculty to help them with their nursing curriculum because they do not have many doctorally prepared faculty in their schools,” she said. Formal agreements outlining such a program between FDU and the two countries do not exist at this time. Guttman plans to discuss these initiatives with FDU faculty when they return from summer recess. Reflecting on her experiences at the conference, Guttman said, “I was impressed by FDU’s status as a consultant to other NGOs, as an expert on health care and the education of nurses.”  

Elsie Jolade was one of two graduate students who attended the conference. She serves as a clinical nurse specialist in cardiac service at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “As a DNP student, the CoNGO conference provided me with an amazing opportunity that greatly enriched and expanded my views about global health disparity,” said Jolade. “This understanding helped me to recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done. This is crucial in policy proposals (such as the current health care reform in congress) that aim to address health care issues in this country and around the world.”

Liberato Bautista, CoGNO president, asked Guttman to co-edit the CoNGO conference’s final document outlining policy recommendations that were sent to the ECOSOC conference for consideration, including adherence to the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable populations, adoption of a human rights-based approach to health, education and training of health care personnel, increased funding and research allocated to the health of young people and the allocation of additional resources to address HIV/AIDS.

About the United Nations Economic and Social Council 

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system. Fairleigh Dickinson University earned special consultative status with ECOSOC in 2009. FDU is the first comprehensive higher-learning institution in the world to do so. The council is responsible for: 

promoting higher standards of living, full employment and economic social progress; 

identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems;

facilitating international cultural and education cooperation; and

encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

To Find Out More 

To lean more, visit http://view.fdu.edu/default.aspx?id=7263 and click on the link in the right-hand pane to read a detailed, day-by-day report by Elsie A. Jolade, who is pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing.

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(Lower photo) Attending the Conference of Non-Governmental Organiations in Consultative

Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) are, from left to right, 

Patricia Ukaigwe, DNP student; Nikhil Seth, director, Office

for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, United Nations

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA); Minerva Guttman, professor

of nursing and director of the Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health.