A dozen experts discussed health care challenges ranging from delivering humanitarian aid to making surgery safer at a wide-ranging Global Health Summit that drew about 500 to Harvard Medical School’s Joseph B. Martin Conference Center on Monday, November 25, 2013. The summit—a joint effort of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and Harvard Medical School (HMS)—was aimed at highlighting the three institutions’ collaborations and achievements in the field of global health.

The first of three panels at the summit featured HSPH’s Michael VanRooyen and Ashish Jha as well as Andrew Ellner, director of HMS’ Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change, discussing what can be learned from global health experiences. VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, said that humanitarian aid is crucial—whether people are reeling from a natural disaster, from war, or from disease—but that it can be imperfect because aid organizations often don’t coordinate effectively with each other. Given the challenges, it’s important to have a strategic approach when offering humanitarian aid and to move toward “creating humanitarian assistance as its own professional pathway,” he said.

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