The Lancet: Air travel for global health: flying in the face of sustainable development?

23 December, 2019

A recent paper in The Lancet draws attention to the 'inconsistency between undertaking work to promote sustainable development and travelling in a way that undermines sustainability'

CITATION: Comment| volume 394, issue 10211, p1786-1788, november 16, 2019

Air travel for global health: flying in the face of sustainable development?

Ishtar Govia et al. Published:November 16, 2019


International health conferences are hugely damaging in terms of CO2 emissions. So how can we improve collaboration, communication and cooperation while reducing impact on environment and climate?

The answer surely must be to have *fewer* physical conferences and to invest more in virtual communication.

With minimal investment, virtual communities of practice such as HIFA have a great potential to promote communication and collaboration. They are much less expensive, much less environmentally damaging and much more inclusive than physical conferences. Physical conferences will always be needed, but they can be effectively complemented by virtual communication, as we have seen with the recent HIFA discussion in the run-up to the Dhaka Symposium on Community Health Workers.

With minimal additional investment as compared with the cost of physical meetings, HIFA could readily transform into a multilingual global health space for communication and collaboration. If you agree with me in the unrealised potential of virtual discussion forums, please contact me: Perhaps we can identify one or more investors to support HIFA as a flagship case study on how to improve global health communication while protecting planetary health.

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: