In addition to its six master programs and three summer schools, this June the Barcelona GSE added executive and professional education to its academic offer. From June 28-July 4, 2009, the School joined with the UPF Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES) to host 20 senior health executives for the Barcelona session of the 2009 Global Health Leadership Forum (GHLF) at the Barcelona GSE’s Ciutadella campus.
This is the sixth edition of the GHLF, which was created by CRES in conjunction with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. The program focuses on health policy issues of global importance in an innovative format that combines case studies, seminars, workshops, field excursions and an independent project. This is the first year that the Barcelona GSE hosted the program.
Dr. Mohammad Al Thani, Minister of Public Health (Qatar) and Dr. Paula Franklin, BUPA (UK) during a group discussion at the GHLF.
Participants are health leaders of governments, global organizations, and senior executives of enterprises such as insurance, pharmaceutical, and health care delivery. They attend two intense one-week sessions, one held at the Barcelona GSE-CRES in June and the other at UC Berkeley in January.
Barcelona GSE Affiliated Professor Guillem López-Casasnovas (UPF-CRES), one of the GHLF’s directors, explained that visiting facilities in Barcelona and Berkeley allows participants to observe the best of managed health care in the United States and the public health system administered by the Catalan government.
“During the GHLF we are examining the common ground between public and private systems of health care management, in order to develop leadership strategies in health policy for the twenty-first century,” said Prof. López-Casasnovas. “Berkeley and CRES have created an executive education program with an important global scope,” he added. “Now that the Barcelona GSE has earned a splendid international reputation, it is an ideal partner for the program. It’s a win-win.”
Dr. Ellis Arjmand, Cincinnati Children's Hospital (USA) and Dr. Basheer Mohammed, Songhai Health Trust (Nigeria)
Creating a global dialogue
The global aspect of the GHLF is immediately apparent when examining the list of participants. In attendance at this year’s Barcelona session were health executives from 9 different countries: the United States, China, Malaysia, Qatar, India, the UK, Spain, Nigeria, and Uganda were all represented among the participants.
Dr. Stephen Shortell, Dean of the Berkeley School of Public Health and one of the GHLF directors, commented in Barcelona on Wednesday that bringing together health leaders from such a diverse spectrum of countries is one of the main advantages of the program.
“Half of the participants of the GHLF are from developed countries, half from developing countries,” Dean Shortell said. “The program offers a unique opportunty for dialogue and idea exchange with peers from around the world, a chance to engage in small-group discussions on a range of topics directly related to their work, and to share best practices that they can then take back to their home countries around the world.”
Many participants underscored the importance of meeting with international colleagues in person. “It’s very different speaking with other health professionals who are actually living in a situation, rather than reading about it in a newspaper,” said Dr. Paula Franklin, Director of Health Care Development at BUPA in the UK. “It’s a fascinating mix of people, and I’m already looking forward to meeting with them again at the Berkeley session next January.”
Dr. Franklin also pointed to the high level of GHLF faculty engagement as a catalyst for debate. “Their enthusiasm for the topics they present is clear,” Dr. Franklin said. “The faculty are very engaged in discussions with participants and bring a great deal of energy to the sessions.”
Among the faculty were:
- Dr. Josep Figueras, director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and head of the WHO European Centre on Health Policy in Brussels
- Prof. Philip Musgrove (Johns Hopkins University), deputy editor for Global Health, Health Affairs Journal
- Dr. Rafael Bengoa, director of Health System Policies and Operations at the WHO in Geneva
- Prof. Panos Kanavos, head of the Medical Technology Research Unit at the London School of Economics
The program’s faculty directors were also among those who presented topics throughout the week.
Professors Vicente Ortún (CRES), Richard Scheffler (UC Berkeley), Guillem López-Casasnovas (UPF-CRES, GSE) and Andreu Mas-Colell (GSE Chairman) present the GHLF graduation certificate to Dr. Ladi Okubeyejo of Nigeria.
Applying collective know-how through individual projects
Faculty involvement with the GHLF will continue between the Barcelona and Berkeley sessions. Participants each select a project relevant to their country or company and continue to work with faculty advisors during the six-month interim between sessions to prepare their projects for presentation during the second session.
For some participants, this means choosing a topic during the Barcelona session to present at Berkeley in January 2010. Others, such as Dr. Mohammad H.J. Al Thani, Senior Medical Advisor to the National Health Authority of Qatar, attended the Berkeley session in January 2009 and presented their projects this week in Barcelona.
“My presentation is about preparing for the next flu pandemic,” Dr. Al Thani explained. “My country, Qatar, is a major transit hub. As a public health minister I am very concerned about the potential spreading of new strains of the flu virus.”
Dr. Al Thani will return to Qatar as a graduate of the GHLF and expressed an interest in returning to Catalonia in the future to continue studying the region’s health care system. During the week GHLF participants visited the primary care unit at CASAP-Castelldefels, a self-managed facility, and Hospital del Mar-IMAS, a public facility.
Exploring Barcelona with new colleagues
Throughout the intense week of presentations, group discussions, and workshops, participants also had some breaks to relax and enjoy Catalan culture with a guided visit of a cava factory, a bicycle tour of Barcelona, dinner at a traditional restaurant by the beach, and a free evening to explore together on their own.
“Barcelona itself is a big draw for many of the GHLF participants,” Dr. Shortell said before returning to Berkeley. “Everyone loves the weather, the cosmopolitan atmosphere, and the chance to enjoy the city.”
The Berkeley session will take place from January 10-16, 2010.