New York City – November 20, 2023 – Sustainable Impact Makers International (SIMI), a non-profit organization committed to fighting poverty and health disparities, proudly announces its recent participation in four prestigious conferences in 2023. As a three-year-old organization, SIMI presented a poster at the New York City Epidemiology Forum (NYCEF) and the American Public Health Association Conference (APHA). Additionally, the organization was selected to deliver an hour-long presentation on the impact of its Mom Count Program at both The Shades of Blue Black Maternal Mental Health Conference and the Fetal Medicine Conference. Based on our observations, we have recommendations to make to the conference experience reflective of and accessible to the broader community.
Observations: Bridging the Gap Between Conferences and Communities
Despite the excitement of these achievements, SIMI observed a significant gap between conference themes centered on community involvement and health equity and the actual representation of grassroots organizations. The organization highlights the challenges faced, particularly the lack of equitable access for community-based organizations due to prohibitive costs, hindering their ability to attend these conferences.
For example, the Fetal Medicine Conference, held in Dubai, posed a financial burden of $900 per person, excluding travel and accommodation expenses. This financial strain prompted SIMI to withdraw from presenting, raising questions about the inclusivity of such conferences.
Furthermore, SIMI noted a concerning lack of community presence at all four conferences, with 80% of presenters having no direct involvement in program implementation and design. Instead, they were often associated with universities, hospitals, or city departments funding the programs, which diminished the authenticity and relatability of their presentations.
Recommendations for Increasing Access and Inclusivity at Health Conferences
In response to these observations, SIMI proposes the following recommendations to ensure health conferences are more reflective of the communities they aim to serve:
- Pre-Registration Assessment: Conduct a pre-registration assessment to identify and prioritize grassroots organizations that are self-funded, impactful, and deeply rooted in their communities.
- Financial Support Options: Offer self-funded grassroots organizations and community members the option of limited-time free tickets or recommend sponsorship opportunities to facilitate their attendance.
- Inclusivity for All: Open conference attendance to all interested parties, not restricting participation to members only, to align with the overarching goal of achieving health for all.
- Authentic Representation: Include individuals who have worked on the program within the community or on the ground as presenters. Their firsthand experience adds authenticity and relatability to the presentations.
- Community Campaigns: Create and adopt an organization or community campaign for the conference, where sponsors can cover registration and travel fees for community programs or grassroots organizations.
Closing Thoughts: Building Equity in Healthcare
SIMI emphasizes the need for the intentional involvement of communities in conferences beyond mere visual representation on posters or in videos. By implementing these recommendations, conferences can foster a more inclusive, equitable environment. SIMI urges individuals, organizations, and conference hosts to join us in fostering equity in healthcare conferences.
Connect with us at www.sim-int.org to stay informed about upcoming initiatives and engage in a collective effort to bridge the gap between academia and community-driven healthcare, fostering inclusivity in the health sector.
About Sustainable Impact Makers International (SIMI)
Sustainable Impact Makers International is a non-profit organization founded in 2015 with a mission to educate, mobilize, empower, enable, and be a resource to communities in the challenge of fighting poverty and health disparities. Headquartered in New York City, SIMI collaborates with a diverse range of community leaders and stakeholders to achieve its mission through various initiatives, including outreach, apprenticeship, capacity-building training, food drives, technical assistance, education, policy and advocacy, screening and referrals, research and evaluation, resource development, and leadership development.
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