Scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, practitioners and policy makers from Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt and Germany came together for these two days to discuss existing and possible future cooperation within the region and with Germany.
Dr Roman Luckscheiter, Director of the DAAD Office Cairo, and H. E. Sönke Siemon, Chargé d’affairs ad. Int. of the German Embassy in Egypt, opened Monday night’s event, which was attended by 60 guests representing both university and non-university partners. In their welcome addresses, they highlighted the importance of scientific collaboration with regards to the health sector, both within the MENA region and between that region and Germany, and called for more multidisciplinary approaches to health. Journalist Ashraf Amin of Al Ahram Newspaper moderated the panel debate that followed, during which Dr John Jabbour, World Health Organisation Country Representative to Egypt, Dr Olaf Horstick from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Heidelberg, Prof Haydar El Hadi Babikir, representing the University of Gezira, Dr Chajia Schloemann-Abid of Sfax University in Tunisia and Dr Karim Fawya from Cairo University, engaged in a constructive discussion on health challenges as well as successes and problems with the implementation of health-related policies.
After the previous evening’s dinner had provided an initial opportunity for extensive discussions between guests, 30 participants used the second conference day for an exchange of detailed stories relating the successes and challenges of cooperation. Various presentations and a hands-on workshop provided for fruitful and constructive discussions on the achievements of and need for building partnerships. Participants especially appreciated the workshop led by Dr Olaf Horstick, as it gave them the opportunity to share examples of successful and problematic partnerships and to analyse success factors.
The Health Cluster Conference succeeded in creating a space for its participants to engage in constructive and fruitful discussions on cooperation in the health sector. Following a bottom-up approach, the university and non-university representatives – the most integral parts of existing and potential partnerships – came together to share their ideas and to engage in networking activities. Those partners benefitting from the efforts of the DAAD described the institution’s role as that of a facilitator of exchange and communication within the MENA region and with Germany. Notably, participants remarked on the crucial role that COSIMENA plays in serving as a platform for bringing together key actors and partners in the field of health and providing a space to seek out potential opportunities for scientific collaboration.