Aim and Scope
In July 2017 the DAAD Cairo Office launched the Health Cluster with its first Health Cluster Conference. Throughout the entire year COSIMENA organised various events such as two Public Health Courses in Sudan and Egypt, two events raising awareness of noncommunicable diseases and an Expert Session on German-Egyptian Research Cooperation.
Decision-Making in Public Health: Evidence, Politics
10th-13th December 2017
In collaboration with the Institute of Public Health of the Universität Heidelberg, the COSIMENA Health Cluster hosted the four-day training course “Decision-Making in Public Health: Evidence, Politics” at the premises of the DAAD Office Cairo from 10 to 13 December 2017. On the first day, Dr Roman Luckscheiter, Director of the DAAD Office Cairo, and Mr Simon Brombeiss, cultural attaché of the German Embassy in Egypt, welcomed Dr Olaf Horstick and Dr Pauline Grys from the Institute of Public Health as well as the 20 participants in the course. Dr Luckscheiter und Mr Brombeiss highlighted the enduring cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and the DAAD Office Cairo, which had organised this second public health course after the first had been held in Khartoum in July 2017.
The 20 participants were chosen out of 250 applicants and came from five different countries in the MENA Region: Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Paralleling the positive results in Khartoum, the high number of applicants once again showed the great interest and demand for such training courses in the field of public health in the MENA region.
The concept was based on team applications consisting of a junior and a mid-senior so that the group was very heterogeneous, with varying levels of experience. While some are enrolled in Masters programmes, others work for well-known international organisations such as Action Against Hunger and the Internatioal Committee of the Red Cross or for organisations, Universities and companies located in Egypt and in the region.
After the participants expressed their high expectations for the course, Dr Olaf Horstick introduced them to the group work based structure of the course instead of formal lectures, using participatory teaching techniques. Dr Horstick and Dr Grys talked about the three steps of making a rational decision – Assessing-Choosing-Changing – and highlighted the direct link between data and decision-making. In the following days, the trainers were able to foster a creative learning atmosphere by encouraging the participants to take an active role in the lectures and to present their group results. The participants learned a lot and came up with their own ideas of how to bridge the research gaps.
In the end, Dr Horstick and Dr Grys picked up the basic questions from the beginning: what is decision-making and what makes a decision accountable. Everyone was able to answer these questions now since the training course had made the participants more confident in the subject. Furthermore, they had learned how to make a better decision by finding their own decision-making strategy.
After the four-day course, Dr Olaf Horstick and Dr Pauline Grys drew a positive conclusion and were were delighted by the motivation and self-confidence of the participants that had made the interactive training course such a huge success.
Two days dedicated to noncommunicable diseases in the MENA region
18th-19th November 2017
In collaboration with NCDFREE, the DAAD Cairo Office hosted two events raising awareness of noncommunicable diseases in the MENA region among junior and senior scientists and researcher. NCDFREE is a global social start up that makes the health burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) relevant, accessible and prominent in the minds of millennials worldwide.
On 18 November the Innovation Incubator showcased the wide variety of activities and concepts which NCDFREE has developed and championed since 2013, specifically focusing on the diverse communication and advocacy tools used to engage young professionals and students in the topics of NCDs and Global Health. The over 70 attendees gained innovative thinking, advocacy and leadership skills through interactive presentations, skill sharing and design-oriented exercises. In her keynote Ghada Mostafa Khalafallah from the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt introduced effective methods to use communication as a tool for organizing awareness campaigns. The event ultimately connected a diverse group of next generation thinkers and leaders with NCDs, NCDFREE and Global Health through stimulating and exciting activities.
On 19 November the Long Lunch attracted 35 young and established leaders within different health fields focusing on cancer. The programme framed the issue of cancer in the MENA Region, where the largest increase in cancer incidence in the next 15 years is likely to be in, taking into account the trends for all related risk factors. The event explored successful and innovative ways of decreasing the risk factors by tapping into health and non-health related topics such as smoking, nutrition, physical activity, environmental health and the built environment. Over a healthy three-course meal outstanding keynotes were delivered by Dr Asmus Hammerich Director for NCDs and mental health in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), Prof Dr Dina Husseiny Salama, Chief Scientific investigator of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Prof Dr Malak Shaheen, Paediatrician and active advocate for NCDs in children (NCD Child) and Ms Enas Mohamed, corporate communications manager. During the event the participants gained a different perspective on the issue of cancer, as well as innovative thinking, advocacy and leadership skills.
Health Cluster Expert Session in Mansoura - Germany in the Nile Delta
29th October 2017
In the scope of Germany in the Nile Delta under the auspices of the German Embassy in Cairo, the DAAD successfully organised the COSIMENA Health Cluster Expert Session on German-Egyptian Research Cooperation on Sunday, 29 October 2017.
The intention of the COSIMENA Health Cluster is to build upon existing collaborations and to develop strategies and formats for a concentrated collaboration and joint projects within the MENA region.
In welcoming the guests, his Excellency the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Egypt, Georg Luy, expressed his appreciation to the German Egyptian research cooperation in the field of health. In the following address, Dr Roman Luckscheiter emphasised how the COSIMENA Health Cluster provides an interdisciplinary setting to illuminate existing cooperation between research institutions in Germany and countries of the MENA region in the health sector.
The first presentation, given by Prof Domres of the German Institute for Disaster Medicine, Dr Gamal Abbas, President of the Egyptian Resuscitation Council, and Dr Amr Yassen, Secretary of the Egyptian Resuscitation Council, introduced the MoU between Mansoura University and the German Institute of Disaster Medicine and Emergency Medicine on the topic of emergency medicine.
The second presentation, given by Dr Mohamed Salama, Mansoura University, described the successful model for cooperation between Mansoura University and the Technical University of Munich within the GeneFINDER project. GeneFINDER aims to study the genetics of familial neurodegenerative diseases in Egyptian patients.
The Expert Session ended with a fruitful panel discussion moderated by Dr Yasmeen Taalab of Mansoura University about the importance of continuing research cooperation between Germany and Egypt within the new initiative COSIMENA.
Decision Making in Public Health – A course delivered in Khartoum by the Institute of Public Health, Heidelberg
13th-17th July 2017
The COSIMENA Health Cluster, in collaboration with the Institute of Public Health, University of Heidelberg and the Public Health Institute of Sudan, organised a course focusing on “Decision Making in Public Health” from 13 to 17 July in Khartoum.
Dr Olaf Horstick and Dr Pauline Grys from Heidelberg’s Institute of Public Health held this weeklong course at the premises of the Public Health Institute of Sudan, bringing together 25 accomplished experts in public health with multiple scientific and professional backgrounds, including many leading experts from the Federal Ministry of Health. During the course, the participants were provided with the necessary tools to develop and successfully implement evidence-based concepts and decisions in public health.
The concept of decision-making in public health practice was introduced, leading to an exploration of the process of selection and implementation of appropriate public health interventions. Divided into small groups focusing on malaria, patient satisfaction and baby-friendly hospitals, the participants developed their own practical approaches throughout the week and presented their interesting and innovative results on the last day of the course. The high number of applicants and the consistently positive feedback from participants show the huge demand for such training courses in the field of public health in Sudan.
COSIMENA Health Cluster Conference in Cairo - Two days dedicated to health in the MENA region
9th-10th July 2017
On the evening of Sunday, 9 July 2017, and on Monday, 10 July 2017, the DAAD Office Cairo hosted its first Health Cluster Conference within the framework of its project Clusters of Scientific Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa (COSIMENA).
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.