Knowledge Exchange 2017: What Makes Us Human?
by Sinéad Troy
On Tuesday, the 10th of January this year we were delighted to have Jean-Louis Lamboray, a founder of the Belgian NGO, The Constellation, to be our guest speaker for PHIN 2017’s first Knowledge Exchange with the theme “What Makes Us Human?”
Mr. Lamboray is a Medical Doctor with a Master in Public Health. In his early career as a Public Health Specialist he worked with the Belgian Development Aid Agency where he was involved with health sector reform in Congo. Following this he was employed by World Bank where he participated in the mobilisation of the World Bank on HIV/AIDS, the creation of UNAIDS and contributed to the development of health care systems in Africa and Asia. He was appointed Team Leader with UNAIDS. In this position, he noticed countries making the most progress on AIDS were those using community interventions where members of the community took ownership of AIDS in their area and worked together to solve it. Within UNAIDS he wanted to modify the response strategies they were using to promote these local responses however his attempts were not successful. He deemed this a failure to effectively respond to the AIDS epidemic and decided to step-down from his role in UNAIDS. This failure, however, had a silver lining and resulted in the formation of The Constellation.
The Constellation aims to empower communities and teach them that they can create the changes they want to see in themselves and their communities. They have developed Community Life Competence Process (CLCP) and SALT to facilitate local responses in communities in over 60 countries around the world. Their aim is to reveal and nurture a community’s strengths and accompany them as they use these strengths to improve life in their communities. Since its formation, The Constellation has created over 100 partnerships with governments, international and national organisations in the area of HIV/AIDS, malaria, community health initiatives, diabetes and disabilities as well as many others.
Mr. Lamboray’s talk showed us another perspective of Public Health beyond the offices of WHO and the UN. He informed us in a manner that was both engaging and down to earth about the obstacles we may face in our future careers. This talk, for me, was inspiring and it highlighted how important it is to be critical of whether the current strategy is the best strategy and not to be afraid to challenge norms.
‘What makes us Human’ is a book written by Jean-Louis Lamboray that details the creation and work of The Constellation. It is a great read for anyone who wants to learn about their projects in greater detail.
PHIN 2017 would like to offer a special thanks to Aurélie Blanc (MPH Class of 2017), who contacted Mr. Lamboray and made this event possible.