Celebrating Global Health Day 2021

Each year, the Center for Global Health celebrates Global Health Day by sharing and informing global health knowledge, expertise and experiences with the Johns Hopkins local and international communities. Global Health Day 2021 took place virtually on May 6, 2021 and featured two keynote speakers, a virtual student poster session, student oral presentations, and an interactive "deep dive" into decolonizing global health. Global Health Day 2021 was anchored by powerful women speakers of diverse backgrounds who joined us from around the world. The day’s topics highlighted critical challenges facing the globe today, including COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance, and ways to approach our work as a global health through empowerment and equitable partnerships. 

This year, the event was co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health and the Department of International Health.  

The event took place on Zoom and welcomed over 400 attendees from 53 countries who tuned in to participate during the course of the day. 

Keynote Speakers

Morning Session: Soumya Swaminathan, MD, Chief Scientist and formerDeputy Director General for Programmes at the World Health Organization

We welcomed Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who joined us virtually from Geneva, as the opening Global Health Day Keynote Speaker. Soumya Swaminathan, MD is the World Health Organization’s first Chief Scientist. A pediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she has 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programs. Dr Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva. 

Dr. Swaminathan spoke on “Lessons Learned during the Pandemic” and provided valuable insight into the challenges we are currently facing during the crisis in India. She also spoke about the longer term fallout of the pandemic on the world as a whole, and the inequitable burden that will be felt in low and middle income countries, specifically related to livelihoods, poverty, and undernutrition. “There is a shifting nature to this pandemic- the fact is that it seems that one region seems to be getting better, but another region may be getting worse,” said Dr. Swaminathan. “It’s within countries and between countries that the inequities have become very clear.”  Dr. Swaminathan’s address can be found on the CGH YouTube channel

Afternoon Session: Dame Sally Davies, MBChB, MSc, Master of Trinity College and Convener of the Trinity Challenge

We were privileged to hear from a second speaker for an afternoon keynote address to close the Global Health Day agenda,  Dame Sally Davies, MBChB, MSc.  Dame Sally Davies is a global advocate on antimicrobial resistance, with her previous experience as the Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government. She is UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, which represents the UK government on the subject of AMR internationally and advises the UK government on the delivery of action and response plans to AMR, with regard to health, agriculture, and the environment. She holds a seat on the World Health Organization Executive Board as the chair of WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR.

Dame Sally joined us virtually from the UK and gave a passionate address on the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). “Two passions of mine in global health are the role of data preparing for the next pandemic, and the slow burning pandemic emergency on our horizons: antimicrobial resistance,” shared Dame Sally.  She also spoke about the problem of the lack of accessible and interoperable data and the impacts on decisionmaking. 

Her address can be found  on the CGH YouTube channel

Student Oral Presentations

This year, we offered JHU students the opportunity to give oral presentations on the work they have been engaging in over the past year. Three different breakout rooms hosted student oral presentations on HIV and Health Systems, Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, and a showcase of the JHU Center for Bioengineering Innovation Design (CBID).   A list of presenters can be found here

Virtual Student Poster Session and Poster Competition Awards

During the lunch break, we held a virtual student poster session on an online platform called Gather.Town. Gather.Town is a web-conferencing software like Zoom, but with a video game feel. On their screen, participants are able to see the virtual “room” they are in, and have the ability to move around and interact with others in the room, just like in real life. The student presenters “stood” by their posters and attendees were able to “walk” around to view the posters and interact with the presenters and other attendees,  easily starting side conversations and chats as if they were at an in-person gathering. 

25 students presented posters on the virtual global health work they have engaged in over the past year. While all of the posters were excellent, three rose to the top as the winners of the Global Health Day Poster Competition. JHU faculty participated as judges prior to the event, and recognized the following students for their excellent work: 

First Place

Julie Stellman

“Exploring the use of thermal cooker bags in
Puno, Peru"


Second Place

Alexandra Mueller

”The hidden burden of disease in southern province Zambia: characterizing febrile, respiratory, and diarrheal illnesses through active household surveillance in a low malaria transmission setting in southern Zambia"


Third Place

Sofia Ryan

 “Exploring the barriers and facilitators to PrEP uptake and PrEP adherence among female sex workers: Implications for intervention design"



Interactive Deep Dive into Decolonization of Global Health Speakers


The afternoon session began with an interactive deep dive panel on the topic of decolonizing global health. We were joined by three experts, moderated by Dr. Smisha Agarwal.

Panel speakers

Laura Mkumba, MSc; FHI360: Laura Mkumba (@laura_mkumba) is a native of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania by way of Atlanta, GA. She received her Master of Science in Global Health from Duke University, where she co-founded the Duke Decolonizing Global Health Working Group in 2018. She has spent the last decade working in international and domestic HIV/AIDS research as well as mental health, health equity, adolescent health, and sexual/reproductive health of sexual and gender minorities.

Tammam Aloudat, MD, MPH, Deputy Medical Director, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Operational Centre Geneva: Tammam Aloudat, is a Syrian medical doctor and public health expert. He has worked for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and for MSF in the field and headquarters directly supporting emergency medical assistance in multiple contexts. Tammam has a medical degree from the University of Damascus and a Masters degree in Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has published multiple works on health and medical interventions in emergencies and conflict including on epidemic control, natural disasters, non-communicable diseases, and psychosocial support. In addition to his role in managing the medical department in MSF, he works on issues related to quality of medical care in emergencies, health information systems, and medical ethics in emergencies.

Aletta Nonyane, PhD, MSc., Associate Scientist, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: A statistician with expertise in analysis of clustered and longitudinal data, as well as analysis of high-dimensional (small n, large predictor sets) data. Her current research involves designing and analyzing cluster-randomized trials, evaluating new diagnostic tests, national health systems evaluations and collaborating with scientists in the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in the design and analysis of clinical studies. 

Each of these three speakers gave thoughtful and helpful commentaries on decolonizing global health, and an active Q+A session followed the discussion. If you missed this session, you can watch it here

Lessons Learned and Paths Forward Session 

Following the panel on decolonizing global health, we were joined by two presenting teams who shared on lessons learned and paths forward for engaging with international partners to do global health work better. Dr. Anita Shankar, PhD, Associate Scientist in the Social and Behavioral Interventions program in the Department of International Health at JHSPH,  spoke on “Positive Public Health: Mobilizing personal agency to advance individual & community flourishing”.  

Beth Fredrick, Executive Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her counterpart Halima Shariff,  Director of Advance Family Planning Tanzania, gave an inspiring and informative tag-team talk on “Shared Power—Equity in Advocating for Health and Rights.” 

Recordings of both of these talks can be watched on the CGH YouTube channel.

Faculty Mentor Awards

Global Health Day also provides a time to recognize the faculty members who play a critical role in shaping international student experiences each and every year.  Nominated by students, these mentors are recognized for their passion, dedication, and expertise in guiding students through global health research and practice experiences. This year was especially challenging for students who were trying to complete practicums remotely, and their success would not have been possible without the support of their mentors, who went above and beyond during a time when they, too, were dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their own personal and professional lives.  The Center for Global Health was pleased to recognize three outstanding mentors selected from a robust list of student-nominated faculty members to receive the Global Health Day Excellence in Advising Award: 


Dr. Judy Bass

"Dr. Bass has dedicated a significant proportion of her career to mentoring the next generation of leaders in global mental health. She provided close academic support during a particularly grueling part of my doctoral program, which has been made more challenging by the global pandemic"




Kawsar Talaat

"I have never had an adviser with such a warm, welcoming personality and desire for making a true, meaningful impact in others lives. Dr. Talaat sacrifices a lot of her time to make sure that students have the best experience possible at Hopkins"



Nukhba Zia

"Dr. Zia has provided dedicated, consistent mentorship and support on her own time. This comes from a sincere dedication to helping students succeed and the tremendous commitment she brings to all her projects. As a junior faculty member with so many responsibilities on her plate, it is impressive how committed she is to mentoring students, and she does it very well."



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