LSE: Academic travel culture is not only bad for the planet, it is also bad for the diversity and equity of research (4) World Sepsis Congress 2018 (4)

6 April, 2019

Many thanks Patrick,

It is really impressive that the World Sepsis Congress had so many speakers and so many participants - all done virtually. This is a great example of what can be achieved. Here is a link to all the presentations:

However, I do have one observation: I couldn't find any inputs from the participants. Each session appears to be a series of wall-to-wall Powerpoint presentations, without comments, questions and interactions with the participants.

Personally, when I am at a conference, I especially like the Q&A sessions after each presentation. Conferences should be about interaction - if we just wanted to listen to the speakers, we may as well just watch them on YouTube. Perhaps I missed it, but I did not see any evidence of participant interaction in the virtual World Sepsis Congress. I can understand that this may be difficult to manage with 20,000 participants (!) but perhaps this could be considered for next time.

Another way to add value to conferences - whether physical or virtual - is to collaborate with HIFA in the weeks running up to the event. We now have considerable experience in running sponsored thematic discussions in the run-up to international conferences. This is a win-win for everyone: it makes the conference more inclusive, allowing inputs from a wider range of people who are unable to attend in person; it helps to publicise and build momentum for the conference, and - most importantly! - it provides much-needed income for HIFA. Furthermore, HIFA members appear to really appreciate the opportunity to focus occasionally on a specific theme, especially when they know their contributions will feed into a major event.

The cost of a HIFA thematic discussion is minimal compared with the overall cost of running a conference. If any HIFA members are interested in using HIFA to add value to an upcoming conference (whether F2F or virtual), and supporting HIFA at the same time, please contact me:

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: