Sheela Basrur Symposium and Dr. Alejandro Jadad

April 4, 2016

By Jill Kinsella, Program Coordinator, Sheela Basrur Centre

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The eighth annual Sheela Basrur Symposium kicked-off The Ontario Public Health Convention (TOPHC) on April 4, 2016.

Following a slightly restructured format this year, the Sheela Basrur Symposium featured a recognition ceremony, acknowledging the Centre’s award recipients, followed by the Sheela Basrur Lecture.

In keeping with the Centre’s mission, the Sheela Basrur Lecture focused on communication and leadership in public health practice, honouring the memory of Dr. Sheela Basrur, highlighting her skills in both arenas.

This year’s Sheela Basrur Lecture was delivered by physician, educator, researcher, entrepreneur and public advocate, Dr. Alejandro Jadad. Dr. Jadad is the Director of the Institute of Global Health Equity & Innovation at the University of Toronto, where he is also a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and a member of the Institute of Healthy Policy, Management and Evaluation.

Dr. Jadad’s presentation, “Bringing Back Health and Public into Public Health”, embodied the theme of TOPHC 2016 – collaborate, innovate and transform.

Watching Jadad engage and lead an audience of public health professionals was like watching a conductor at the helm of an orchestra. Generating dialogue and open discussion through live polling, Jadad created a unique and collective public health “happening”. His multi-platform presentation generated thought-provoking online dialogue, as Jadad challenged people to think about public health within a broader context. Tackling issues such as social determinants of health, health and gender equity, employment and economics, Jadad confronted our perspective on how we view health.

In breaking with a more conventional lecture style, Jadad’s presentation created a shared, experience, generating overwhelming participation and lively conversation. Jadad led the discussion, carefully interweaving all three subthemes, creating a collaborative, innovative and transformative experience within the first hour.

Traditional lectures and run-of-the-mill presentations may be on the way to becoming a thing of the past. As long as people continue to create their own content for online platforms, there will be demand for the voice of a conscious collective to be heard. The interactive experience left most feeling as though we had the opportunity to open up the dialogue by voicing our opinions on vital public health topics. Even though the discussion delved into provocative themes at times, this open forum style presentation was a starting point towards tackling significant public health issues. You’d be hard pressed to get that from a TED talk.