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10 of our favourite moments from the Questions Symposium

On the 8th of November 2019, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s MARCH Centre held a symposium to celebrate 30 years of maternal and newborn health research at the School. Entitled the Questions Symposium, the event aimed to examine questions on the rationale, methods and impact of our past and present research, and the challenges to be faced in the future.

The programme was diverse in its content and delivery, including more traditional keynote and panel sessions, alongside a play, a debate on the value of implementation research versus basic science, a series of short presentations in the form of a PechaKucha-style session, and a speaker’s corner during the reception.
Below are 10 standout moments from the day, put together by one of the co-organisers – Lydia Di Stefano.
“Friends and family” from the MNH team at LSHTM – including many of those involved in the start-up of the group 30 years ago, plus many who will lead the next 30 years!

1 - Professor Wendy Graham delivered the welcome address, playing Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba to mark the start of the Questions Symposium. Wendy remarked that it spoke to an aim of the day to come, being based on the story of the Queen’s arrival to ask King Solomon some hard questions.

Wendy Graham delivering keynote address

 

2 - After stepping-in at the last minute to deliver the keynote address on behalf of Dr Anshu Banerjee, Dr Allisyn Moran (WHO) responded to questions from the audience, wonderfully moderated by the School’s Professor Kara Hanson

Dr Allisyn Moran (WHO) responded to questions from the audience

 

3 - Professor Veronique Filippi commented on how challenging it is to deliver a PechaKucha-style presentation (20 slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, and no text allowed on the slides), while the co-chair of the session - Dr Susannah Woodd - offered words of encouragement.

3.	Professor Veronique Filippi commenting on how challenging it is to deliver a PechaKucha-style presentation

 

4 - Professor Tom Shakespeare responded with a smile to questions about his PechaKucha presentation on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women living with disabilities, assisted by our Symposium IT guru - Dr Sam Tweed (far left).

Professor Tom Shakespeare responded with a smile to questions about his PechaKucha presentation

 

5 - Professor Oona Campbell  used effective props during the Symposium debate to illustrate the ‘whizzy’ arguments from her and her seconder (Prof Peter von Daedalzen), compared to the  ‘woolly’ points from the affirmative team.

Professor Oona Campbell  used effective props during the Symposium debate

 

6 -  Voting after the debate - looks like most agreed with the affirmative team (Professor Anthony Costello and Loveday Penn-Kekana): “This house believes MNH research funds are better spent on implementation research than basic science and epidemiology”… Except for Dr Richard Horton, whose red card can be seen at the back left, and who wasn’t shy about his views on Twitter.

voting after the debate

 

7 - Panellists (left to right) Dr Louise-Tina Day, Professor Lenka Benova and Harriet Ruysen, joined by Dr Dharmintra Pasupathy (off photo), passionately discussed the joy of working on MHN during the Careers Panel.

Discussions on the joy of working on MHN during the Careers Panel

 

8 - Reading of the B!RTH play, ‘Q and Q’ which told the story of three Syrian women, read by Rebecca White, Josie Gallo and Professor Wendy Graham (pictured left to right), with Lydia Di Stefano and Tom O’Connell (not pictured) as the interrogators.

Reading of the B!RTH play, ‘Q and Q’

 

9 - Mervat Alhaffar, Professor Franscesco Checchi, Dr Neal Russell and Professor Richard Adanu (left to right) shared a cheerful moment during an otherwise serious discussion about maternal and newborn health in conflict settings promoted by the play.

Discussions following play

 

10 - This photo was taken moments before Professor Helen Weiss pulled a tampon from her sleeve to help tackle the taboo of periods. Her message: when you go to the bathroom, there is no need to hide your pad or tampon! This action can help to address stigma, an issue she highlighted during her talk on period poverty at the Speaker’s Corner.

Talk on period poverty at the Speaker’s Corner

A special thanks to all of the all of the master’s students who volunteered their time: Kiera Prasad, Dr Sumire Sorano, Annie Howard, Dr Lionel Kadzem, Dr Cephas Avoka, Victoria Liu, and EJ Choi. The Questions Symposium would not have been possible without you!

You can view recordings of the questions symposium here.

Photography credit: MSc student Dr Sumire Sorano

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