MSF Scientific Days International - now all online

24 Apr 2020

A true conference without borders

As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts every part of daily life, now more than ever, we must recognise the importance of knowledge sharing and discourse in medical research and innovation. MSF is heavily involved in the global COVID-19 response, however the need for non-COVID public health programmes remains urgent. With that in mind, on May 13 and 14, we take the normally London-based MSF Scientific Days events entirely online as a virtual conference. With no in-person gathering possible, we are creating a unique and engaging virtual experience, where attendees can join experts in humanitarian medical programming from all over the world.

Our aim has always been to catalyse evidence-based improvement in the quality of care provided to patients and populations at risk in humanitarian contexts and to support the development of cross-disciplinary networks and communities of practice. Our agendas, focussing on medical research and humanitarian innovation, are packed with presentations that seek to achieve this aim and reflect the diversity of MSF programmes and patients. This year we are also lucky to have poet, author and radio presenter, Mr Gee as rapporteur, providing feedback on the sessions.

Medical Research Day – 13 May 2020

On Medical Research Day, we address challenges faced in diagnosis and treatment, the need for reformed screening strategies, and the importance of adapting programmes to fit the context.  From the Central African Republic, we provide unique insights into how community-run ART groups continue to operate in conflict settings, and from DR Congo, we scrutinise reports that official data may be substantially under-estimating the numbers of measles deaths in the current epidemic.

In a session highlighting the adaptation of programming to specific needs and settings, we explore what prevents survivors of sexual violence from seeking care and how we can help in overcoming these barriers. We also question whether involving people in decision-making helps motivate better adherence to treatment. Our keynote panel discussion, between MSF’s Sean Healy, Paul Spiegel from Johns Hopkins University and Maysoon Dahab from Kings College London, will contextualise MSF within the current healthcare landscape, with a particular focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst we hope that COVID-19 does not overshadow the important topics under discussion, it would be amiss not to take this opportunity to share emerging evidence from rapid action research, as well as discuss the ethics of choices we are making (and will have to make) in health programming in the face of overwhelming demand for services.

Innovation Day – 14 May 2020

On Innovation Day, our presenters bring experiences of problem-solving in resource-limited settings, finding ways to use digital technology and other simple tools to fill gaps in healthcare provision. We will hear and discuss the latest in environmental health interventions using geographic information systems to support malaria prevention programmes, artificial intelligence for safe water, and innovative solutions faecal sludge management in the Cox Bazar mega camp.

In our session on improving patient experiences of care in humanitarian settings, we look at continuous glucose monitoring, treatment of acute malnutrition by community health workers and an app designed to predict safe nurse staffing ratios; all investigations into finding the right tool for the right task.

Innovation day would not be the same without demonstrations of innovations-in-progress and this year they are available via video with an opportunity to video chat live with the demonstrator (take a look at last year’s innovators pitching their demos). Conference attendees will have the opportunity to network not only with presenters but also other attendees, including MSF field staff, global humanitarian institutions, universities, and other NGOs.

The MSF Scientific Days are traditionally a series of events that take place all around the world and, whilst some 2020 events have sadly had to be cancelled, we still look forward to MSF Scientific Days Asia, which we hope will take place in Thailand in September and MSF Scientific Days Latin America which we hope will take place in August.

Register now or join online 

We are very grateful to F1000Research for hosting the MSF Scientific Days content on their Open Research platform, and to our other sponsors: Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Springer Nature/BMC, SciDev.Net, PLOS Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and The Lancet Global Health.

Please join us at the virtual conference and follow our Twitter channel @MSFsci. Use our hashtag #MSFsci when tweeting about conference content and help us make this a true conference without borders.