Daniel Maceira speaking in front of a crowd at a LAC Pre-conference

Six meetings, 321 abstracts, 86 institutions and 21 participant countries: Reflections from HSG’s 2021-2022 Pre-Symposium Conferences in the Americas

Dr. Daniel Maceira – HSG Regional Board Representative for the Americas and Co-Chair of the Symposium Program Working Group (PWG) – shares his reflections following the 2021/2022 set of pre-conferences held in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Ahead of the Seventh Global Symposium for Health Systems Research (HSR 2022) in Bogota, Colombia, scheduled for October 31 – November 4, 2022, HSG’s Americas regional network, in collaboration with local and regional partners, organized six pre-conferences in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Each pre-conference strove to explore and debate the Symposium theme and four sub-themes, and identify and support submissions to its scientific program.

This series of pre-conferences followed a tradition initiated by HSG’s Americas Region six years ago. In total, 26 pre-conferences have been held throughout the Americas since 2016 – from Ottawa and Washington D.C. to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, from Mexico, Bogotá and Lima to São Paulo. Each meeting has been structured to replicate the model of the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, with calls for abstracts and the establishment of scientific committees whose members select authors to share their work before diverse audiences.

Our 2021/2022 pre-conference cycle aimed to create a space for local exchange on relevant experiences and transformative visions and to provide presentation support for the selected abstracts that would strengthen the LAC presence and content at HSR 2022 later this year.

The six pre-conferences delivered a total of 24 sessions and were conducted in multiple modalities with four virtual and two hybrid. They were organized according to the following sub-regions:

  • Colombia (host of the 7th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research)
  • Caribbean
  • Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic
  • Andean countries
  • Brazil
  • Southern Cone

 Participant countries were Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Pre-conference participation involved 21 countries and more than 300 abstracts were received, out of which approximately 100 were accepted for oral and poster presentations.

A total of 86 organizations were part of the entire process, including the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and several public and academic institutions.

  • Academic institutions that formed part of the initiative, included the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública of Mexico, Fiocruz and the Sao Paulo School of Public Health from Brazil, the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Universidad Javeriana and the Universidad de Antioquia, from Colombia, the Red Chilena de Instituciones Formadoras en Salud Pública, the University of West Indies at Trinidad and Tobago, among many others.
  • Public institutions such as the Ministry of Health of Argentina, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social from Costa Rica, the Seguro Nacional de Salud of Perú, the Caja de Seguro Social de Panamá, were also involved. The full list of partners can be found in the pre-conference memoirs.

We have seen a steady increase in participation from LAC members in the Symposia over the last five years and this is reflected not only in the number of abstracts submitted, but also in the quality and diversity of the topics addressed. There is still a rich space of collaboration, involving capacity strengthening, interaction with Emerging Voices and the Thematic Working Groups (TWGs). During the Symposium, the LAC Chair will hold a regional meeting where all LAC members are invited to discuss HSG activities undertaken in the past two years and discuss priorities and collaboration opportunities for the next two-year period.

In addition, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) supported four literature review pieces, identified with the four sub-themes of the conference, prepared by eight key LAC researchers. The results will be introduced in an organized session during the Symposium in Bogota.

This journey has given us the opportunity to collaborate with diverse institutions, researchers and policymakers across the Americas, and we look forward to sharing these valuable learnings with colleagues at HSR 2022.  We are working towards building bridges with international Journals that are keen to echo the regional production and embrace collaboration with other regions with common interests and challenges. We currently have an agreement with the International Journal for Equity in Health to launch a special issue on LAC responses to COVID-19 and are working on partnership agreements with other global publications.

The six pre-conference memoirs and accompanying session videos have been uploaded to the HSR 2022 website, where you can peruse the topics discussed and the authors who presented works. We also invite you to join our Google group, whose membership includes pre-conference participants.

We would like to thank all who submitted abstracts for the LAC pre-conference consideration and express our sincere gratitude to all members and institutions who contributed their valuable time and effort in making the LAC Pre-Symposium conferences a success.

We look forward to welcoming you again in Bogota for the Seventh Global Symposium on Health Systems Research!

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