Symposium: a step in the right direction

By Lawrence Loh, MD MPH

This is a blog entry coming live to you from a beautiful fall evening in Boston. I just arrived here and am getting ready to head out to the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. tomorrow to participate in a symposium focused on bringing together all those different teams that work in La Romana. It’s not the first time that such an effort to gather everyone together has come through before, and indeed, there are some key players who are unable to make it for reasons of time or distance. But that said, there is reason to be optimistic this time that we’re going to start a bit more of a routine this time around.

Most of the people spearheading the effort thus far represent the younger generation in La Romana – medical students, residents, and recently graduated physicians who are indeed keen to make a difference. Together with the wisdom of the older members attending tomorrow, they will become more invigorated to see the efforts through despite grueling schedules and training requirements. That a symposium is happening at all is a sign that this effort is at least on the radar for all involved.

There are defined collaborative topics at hand on in the agenda. Some of these include sharing educational materials, discussing previous collaborative efforts (such as a project to contribute to ongoing consistent hypertensive therapy), and ideas for future meetings. We’re also grateful to have a website to offer to the group and to see what sort of feedback we get. The potential for real solid groundwork to be laid towards ongoing efforts is even more exciting than the certain knowledge exchange that will happen.

Indeed, other linkages have already started forming between groups, as we work with our UMass partners on developing a protocol to do a chart review and determine what disease burden is addressed by the short term trips. We’re hoping the website will at least get the approval of our partners tomorrow and be able to move forward in implementing it on a go-forward basis. Things are definitely afoot.

At the same time, we’re also branching out and bringing our collaborative message to the world. Dr. Henry Lin, one of our officers, led a well-received discussion at the Talk Change conference at McMaster University a couple of weeks ago. I myself have brought this message informally to the World Medical Association’s meeting in Bangkok and will be bringing it more formally (through research with co-investigators on global health careers and workforce issues) to the American Public Health Association Meeting in San Francisco. If you’re attending, stop in, say hi, learn about the research we’re doing with our partners:

Finally, we’re thrilled by the number of volunteers who have signed on with us recently, both for work at home as well as for the upcoming trip. There’s just so much that’s been on the go, which is why the blog posts have fallen a bit to the wayside. If you are able to donate, please visit – and for those who need a proper tax receipt, email for a different set of instructions.

Together, we can make a difference. The key being “together.”

Lawrence Loh is Chief Medical Officer of The 53rd Week.


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