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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

Conflicted: The War for Health



14th-15th April 2012 King’s College London

As National Coordinator of Medsin, I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend a number of excellent conferences this year.

But I don’t think I’ve ever looked  forward to one as much as CONFLICTED, this year’s global health conference which will be held at King’s College London on the 14th and 15th of April.

I’m trying to think about what excites me most. Perhaps it’s the amazing set of speakers.  Robin Coupland, medical adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will be opening the conference, followed by speakers including Director of MedAct, Marion Birch,  Surgeon Lieutenant Henry Dowlen, and another Red Cross expert, Gilles Thal Larsen. The debate is sure to be fantastic, as the four plenaries will grapple with challenging multisectoral issues that I can’t wait to engage with. The conference will consider the causes of conflict, the emergency humanitarian response and how to achieve sustainable development and peace.

The range of workshops on offer is also pretty stimulating, and since choices don’t have to be made till the start of next week, I’m still wrestling with which to pick. For the Saturday morning I’m trying to decide whether to attend the extremely popular super-workshop on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, “Addressing the Mental Health Gap in Low and Middle Income Countries” by Dr. Graham Thornicroft, whom I’ve heard so much about and have yet to meet, or a workshop by Dr Rhona McDonald. Dr McDonald will be manoeuvring an ethical maze by considering the blatant disregard of the Geneva Conventions in recent conflicts, and the provocative question of whether the enforcement of healthcare protection is a realistic option in the 21st century. It’s no easy decision, and there’s also a whole range of excellent, primarily student-led, workshops on the Sunday afternoon for me to choose between. That’s not to mention needing to plan my own workshop, on transformative medical education, a particular interest of mine.

All-in-all the workshops are undoubtedly going to be a highlight of the weekend.

Most of all, however, I’m looking forward to meeting the other delegates. The organising committee tell me that there are already students registered from every medical school in the UK, and the number of professionals, both from within and outside of the medical world is also rising. Such a mix of individuals from different disciplines, and right across the UK is sure to fuel interesting discussions in the coffee breaks, as well as within plenaries and workshops, and like any seasoned conference attendee I know that some of the best connections are made over a shortbread biscuit and cup of tea, rather than a crowded lecture theatre.

Along with a Global Health Question Time including Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, numerous stall fairs, and national poster and photo competitions, it’s going to be quite a weekend!

There’s still tickets left for both professionals and students, but early bird ticket rates end today so snap yours up now! And if you can’t attend but want to engage with the discussion, follow us on twitter (@medsinuk); we’ll be using #medsinghc!

Book your tickets now at

From £21.50 for a student weekend ticket & £39.50 for a non-student.

Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones is a fourth year medical student at King’s College London. She is currently Joint National Coordinator of Medsin-UK, along with Dan Knights. Follow her on twitter: @faejones.

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