Conclusion of the Middle East Emerging Leaders Conference

On the 7th of December 2013, the World Youth Alliance (WYA) Middle East regional office, in partnership with the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) of the American University of Beirut (AUB) organized the 2013 Emerging Leaders Conference under the title of "Linking Health to Sustainable Development in Lebanon".

The forty participants in the conference included WYA’s certified members in Lebanon in addition to a number of AUB students from the Faculty of Health Sciences. The main goal of the conference was to engage young leaders in a policy discussion on linkages between public health and sustainable development. As a result, the conference enhanced the understanding of the young leaders on how – in the case of Lebanon – non-sustainable development policies are impacting public health.

By the end of the workshop, the participants were be able to:

Define sustainable development within its international framework;
Describe how public health is linked to sustainable development policies;
Analyze NCDs from a sustainable development perspective;
Propose sustainable development recommendations for policy that address the determinants of NCDs in Lebanon.

The workshop began at nine in the morning with the opening session led by Dr. Iman Nuwayhid, the Dean of FHS at AUB. This was followed by a presentation of the program by Ms. Martine Najem, an instructor of Public Health. The content of the conference was kicked off by the director of WYAME’s regional office, Mr. Cedric Choukier, who delivered a presentation on sustainable development within its international framework. After Mr. Choukeir’s presentation, Professor Abla Sibai of the Faculty of Health Sciences presented the problem of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by identifying their causes, effects and preventive measures to curb the rate of such diseases.

The introductory session was followed by a round table discussion with Dr. Fadi Jardali (Director of the Knowledge to Policy Center for Health), Dr. Sawsan Abdulrahim (Associate Professor and Chair, FHS, AUB), Dr. Farah Naja (Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences of AUB) and Dr. Nisreen Salti (Associate Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut). The discussion was moderated by Dr. Karim El-Mufti (President of the Youth Economic Forum). The main topics of the discussion were the sustainable development policies that should be adopted by the government in order to improve public health. Examples were given by Dr. Salti about the smoking law that was passed by Parliament after some persistent campaigning from the local NGO’s.

The second part of the conference was led by Dr. Salim Adib (Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health) who divided the participants into four groups and gave each group an NCD to discuss. The NCD’s were: Cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, injuries, and diabetes. The groups were asked to identify the causes and the recommendations that deal with each NCD. After the group discussions, each group presented its analyses and its suggested policies.

The conference concluded with the distribution of certificates to the participating leaders of tomorrow.