As the world is starting to get used to living with the COVID-19 pandemic, and as professional travel starts to pick up, many of you may be reminiscing about “the time before”, when a meeting somewhere used to be a regular thing. You would travel to an interesting city, stay in a nice hotel, connect with old friends, make new friends, and meet trainees and young professionals working in similar areas of science. Some of us used these meetings to improve our skills or knowledge base. Others, both new and senior investigators, enjoyed the opportunity to share our latest work and meet others in the field. In a small field like ours, this networking is critical. It is a time to recharge, celebrate successes, share challenges, and explore strategies for addressing them.
Even though most meetings and events were held virtually over the last three years, one thing I’m particularly proud of IAAH for is our continued commitment to youth involvement and advocacy on behalf of young people. With financial support from our members through individual and society dues, and thanks to grant support from the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme, we have been able to better engage both our IAAH Young Professionals Network (YPN), and also directly engage with youth and with youth-led and youth-serving organizations. Our participation in International Youth Day, the United Nations/AFS Annual Youth Assembly, along with our upcoming involvement with PMNCH’s Youth Forum and Call to Action for Adolescent Well-being and International Adolescent Health Week (IAHW), is helping us “walk the talk” (click here to read more about our involvement with these events).
This year, despite the ongoing pandemic, many of our meetings and events are happening again – some in-person, some using a hybrid structure – bringing back more spontaneous and relaxed interactions that make meeting together so special. These meetings are happening at a particularly important time. As countries struggle with re-establishing or maintaining routine adolescent and young adult health services, we continue to advocate for improving and increasing access to care and high-quality health services for young people. Like many other professional associations, IAAH has national and regional society affiliates in many parts of the world, and these societies host regional meetings as an opportunity for scientific and social interchange between adolescent health experts and advocates in their geographic areas. To support these important events, IAAH is making a strategic effort to list upcoming adolescent health meetings on our website. If you know of one that we don’t have listed, please email our secretariat.
In October, PMNCH, the Partnership for Women’s Children’s and Adolescent Health will launch the Youth Forum and Call to Action for Adolescent Well-being. The call to action includes opportunities for funders, professional societies, and national governments to make new commitments to improving adolescent health and well-being. I hope many of you will be in touch with your health ministries and encourage your governments and your national societies to make new, accountable commitments to improving adolescent health and well-being. Please follow IAAH on social media at @IAAHGlobal for more information about the Call to Action and about upcoming meetings, YPN webinars, IAHW announcements, and more. I invite you to share your successes and struggles, either here in our next newsletter, with me by email, or at an upcoming IAAH regional or national adolescent health meeting near you.
I look forward to our continued conversations. Jon
Jonathan D. Klein, MD, MPH President, International Association for Adolescent Health Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Savithri and Samuel Raj Endowed Professor and Executive Vice Head, Department of Pediatrics University of Illinois at Chicago email@example.com