By Christin Senior | January 5, 2021 2:32 pm

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make an enormous impact on the world in just about every area of life, it has also underscored the importance of global health awareness and the challenges faced across populations.

These issues and more will be explored at the College of Medicine’s 2021 Global Health Conference entitled, “Global Health Conference X: Patient Zero, Global Pandemics” scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16.

Now in its tenth year, the conference organized by MedPACt (Medical Students Providing Across Continents) a student organization at the UCF College of Medicine, will be held virtually via Zoom in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines.

Sessions will explore global health implications that surround pandemics, bringing speakers from various fields in healthcare such as public health and infectious diseases and will provide an avenue for stimulating discussion on the global views of a pandemic and their unique challenges.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how globally connected the world truly is, and how health crises affect all nations,” said first-year medical student Asanka Ekanayake, one of the organizers of the conference. “The pandemic has helped raise awareness for issues that have been generally overlooked in the past, like mental health and telemedicine. Our goal is to help expand health awareness, on a global scale, rather than just focusing on your community or country.”

Dr. Lilian Abbo, infectious diseases expert at the Jackson Health System will serve as the keynote speaker. Dr. Abbo has been leading pandemic efforts at the largest county hospital and health system in Florida which includes four acute care hospitals and hundreds of clinics in Miami Dade county.

Panelists include leading scholar of global and domestic health policy and public health, Dr. Jennifer Prah Ruger, Dr. Graham Mooney an associate professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Sachs, a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Eliot Sorel, a physician and an innovative global health leader.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how globally connected the world truly is, and how health crises affect all nations.”

The event will feature interactive workshops, in smaller break-out groups, research presentations, simulations and engaging discussion panels.  Discussion panels will explore topics such as an individual’s social contract in a pandemic – the role each of plays in reducing the spread, and other ways one can help on an individual level.

 “One of our workshops will also feature emergency responders and paramedics who will share how the pandemic has effected health care workers, especially frontline health care workers,” said Kelsey Manko, first-year medical student and one of the student organizers.

There will also be a contact tracing simulation, showing how systems for tracing and quarantining are implemented in different countries.

The general registration fee is $15 and attendance is free for all UCF students. Proceeds from the conference will be donated to Pathlight HOME, a nonprofit organization that provides permanent housing and economic opportunities for homeless and low-income individuals.

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