Graphic recording was part of a World Health Organization informal consultation about anticipating and controlling future epidemics. In December 2015, the World Health Organization invited over 130 global experts to Geneva, Switzerland.
This WHO informal consultation made an important contribution to global health. “The singular importance of this meeting is recognizing first off that while outbreaks of diseases are in many respects inevitable, epidemics and pandemics are preventable.” -Dr Dennis Carroll, Director Pandemic Influenza and other Emerging Threats Unit, USAID.
As a graphic recorder, I noticed some of the lessons learned are relevant to any sector. As one participant reflected, a running thread throughout was about “coordination, leadership and also follow-ship”.
David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola’s remarks demonstrated those leadership themes:
- There are more influencers thinking about health now.
- Make our narrative clear: public health are partners, not expert.
- Resilient societies thrive in complexity.
- Early detection involves everyone.
- Nature/Human will be even closer.
- Empathy is 2-way communication. Trust by being trustworthy.
- What do we do with data?
- You are an agent of transformation in thought and action.
- Multi-sector goals—based on human rights.
- Enable roles for others.
- Systems for health, systems for life and ensuring just access.
- We are all communities. Use power ethically for change. And finally,
- We’re all humanitarians.
During the two-day consultation, these graphic recording visuals were placed onto large boards and then displayed in the halls outside the meeting room. Participants could view the images, clarify key statements, use them to prompt discussion and also take photos. Later, these posters were placed on display in the entrance of the WHO building.
This image sets the agenda for the consultation. It outlines the challenges and opportunities in creating control over future epidemics.
The conversations flowed from the past—using the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa as a key learning experience—to futures. The graphic above illustrates the panel, with short presentations each.
This third visual on future epidemics demonstrates the moving and blurry targets challenging public health.
As our world gets smaller, the reality of preventing the spread of infectious diseases in a global village is complex. One must consider health security, urban epidemics, tourism, geopolitics, and other factors affecting public health in a rapidly changing world.
This graphic captures the discussion on the importance of data. Effectively using data can create more accurate prediction models, and must be balanced with understanding impacts of big data.
Curing, and not harming is depicted here. Session topics included: clinical practices and emerging diseases, systems in preventing outbreaks, the doctor-patient relationship in online environments, strengthening the overall health system.
This graphic recording summarizes Science and Technology: Opportunities and Challenges panel presentation. “How can we incentive research and development investment to prevent pandemics?” The session featured presentations on surveillance and detection, synthetic biology, what’s new in diagnostics, risk perception and engagement, and 21st century communication.
One of my favourite quotes was from a participant in the video: “We need to push boundaries of our traditional thinking so we can bring on board new ideas so we can, as a global community, be better prepared for the next crisis.”