Talks and Lectures

CWL/CARE Virtual Health Forum

May 15, 2020

I was honored to take part in the CWL/CARE Virtual Health Forum, Connected Women Leaders, an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, which aims to connect women leaders across all sectors of life and work to activate networks in communities, and offer up ideas and solutions to address the world’s most urgent challenges. The lively discussion focussed on COVID health care systems, and I offered my thoughts on Rwanda’s early preparation and capacity for emergency response, through national participation, information sharing, and a multisectoral approach. This important debate was moderated by Pat Mitchell, Co-Founder of Connected Women Leaders and Michelle Nunn, President & CEO of Care, and on the panel I was joined by Dr. Nana Twum Danso, Managing Director of Programs for Health at the Rockefeller Foundation, Prof Heidi J. Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Ilhas Altinci, Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor at Care, Turkey, Beth Cameron, Vice President, Global Biological Policy & Programs of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and to close the session, Gayle E. Smith, resident & CEO of The One Campaign.

Read the transcript of my comments here:

Watch the full video here:

COVID-19 and the world’s vulnerable communities

April 30, 2020

I had the privilege to be invited to join McGill’s School of Population and Global Health in a timely panel discussion focused on how the most vulnerable in our global community have been and continue to be disproportionately affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. On the panel, I was joined by Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center; Patricio V. Marquez, former Lead Public Health Specialist, World Bank Group; Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health; Dr. Joanne Liu, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal and hosted by Dr. Timothy Evans, Inaugural Director and Associate Dean of the School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, McGill, and Derek Cassoff, Managing Director, Communications, McGill Advancement. I spoke about the myth of “COVID 19 being a great equalizer” and about how the world needs to come together to support those among us who are most vulnerable.

Watch the full video here:

Per Fugelli Annual Lecture

December 12, 2019

Image credit: Unni Gopinathan

I was honored to be the speaker at the 2019 Per Fugelli memorial lecture where I spoke about the journey of rebuilding the Rwandan health system in the wake of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The principle of equity in health and dignity of the vulnerable is what lies at the center of Rwanda’s recovery based on solidarity and something that Dr. Fugelli spent his life fighting for. It was great to share Rwanda’s progress so far and reflect on how far we still have to go. The lecture was attended by members of the Rwandan diaspora in Norway, The Vice Dean and the student of Oslo University, and the family of the late Dr Fugelli.

Read more about the Per Fugelli lecture series here:

Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative

December 9-10, 2019

Image credit: David Ward

It was my pleasure to speak at the reconvening of the Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative hosted by the UK Department of Transport.  As Co-Chair of the initiative, I gave a presentation titled “Putting Road Safety on the Commonwealth Agenda: A perspective from Africa”. I spoke about the emerging burden of road safety related deaths, especially in Africa, the example of some Rwandan campaigns to address these problems, and the way forward globally, with strong leadership, policies, a multisectoral approach to improve road safety. I look forward to continuing this conversation in future Commonwealth meetings, including CHOGM in June 2020 because road accidents remain the first killer of healthy young people under 30 around the world.

Read more about the Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative here:

TEDWomen 2019

December 4, 2019

Image credit: The Female Quotient

I had a lot of fun to being at the most recent TED Women event in Palm Springs, California where I joined impressive women leaders from around the world. My talk was about the strength I saw in Rwandan women prioritizing Rwanda’s recovery, development and forgiveness, and the significant impacts that occur worldwide when women are in leadership positions. I explained why we need more women in leadership roles, and that we need strong, educated African women to come back to Africa with their unique strength and contribute Africa’s development. 

Read more about TED Women 2019 here:

Watch the full TED talk here:

Tore Godal Honorary Lecture

November 23, 2019

Image credit: Seth Berkley

I was honored to join my dear friend, Tore Godal, as he received the prestigious King’s Medal of Merit for his many decades of work in global health. The agenda of the ceremony consisted of lectures and panel discussions from global health actors on how far we have come and what the future of global health needs to look like. I had the privilege of presenting the keynote speech discussing what we should prioritize as we work towards achieving the SDGs emphasizing the need for smarter investment in building resilient health systems that can withstand future health threats.

Read more about Tore Godal’s career here:

Hamwe Festival

November 8-13, 2019

Hamwe Festival Opening Night

From November 8th to November 13th, Artists, Creators and Global Health Leaders from across the world participated in the first edition of the annual Hamwe Festival, created by UGHE to celebrate the collaboration between the health sector and the creative industries. These two fields can and have historically worked together to bolster the global health agenda.

She Matters Concert

The festival’s flagship artistic event was the She Matters Concert. “First conceptualized by Globe-athon, a movement dedicated to building connections with leaders on every continent to help women talk about below the belt cancers, the ‘She matters’ concert was held at Camp Kigali and hosted by the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE). The Rwandan singer, actress, and supporter of domestic violence victims, Nirere Shanel, performed ahead of the evening’s headliner; Grammy award-winning Malian singer, Oumou Sangare, a legendary artist using her platform to advocate for women’s rights. The first edition of Hamwe Festival was attended by the Minister of Health, Dr. Diane Gashumba, Peter H. Vrooman, US envoy to Rwanda, Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, and the Vice Chancellor of UGHE, Agnes Binagwaho.”

Hamwe Masterclass

In addition to celebrating the role that arts have historically played in the health of people, the Hamwe Festival hosted a Masterclass on Arts and Global Health. The objective was to give participants an opportunity to learn from people working within this nexus about how they use their preferred medium of artistic expression to improve the health of people all over the world whether it be film for advocacy or theater for healing trauma. I opened the masterclass with an introductory lecture on the principles of global health equity. Some topics that were covered during the two-day master class included what it takes to design and evaluate arts in health programs, fund mobilization, and what it means to use arts as therapeutic tools. We hope that this cohort and the future cohorts will keep growing the network of artists and health workers committed to working together to improve health and access to health care for all across the world.

Read more about the Hamwe Festival here:

Women Leaders in Global Health Conference 2019

November 9-10, 2019

It was an honor for UGHE to host the Women Leaders In Global Health conference for 2019 in Kigali. WLGH 2019 brought together more than 1000 participants from the global health community, with the majority coming from the developing world. All continents were represented and contributed to conversations about changing the face of global health leadership and creating enabling environments for women to thrive in health work. Some themes that were brought up included leveraging innovation to accelerate gender equity in health, the role of men in the fight for gender equity, and the need for continued meaningful collaboration and disruption of the status quo. I was honored to deliver a message of a bright future as I introduced the brand-new Center for Gender Equity at UGHE. The goal of this new center will be to identify and address gender-based barriers to reaching the health goals through community centered research and engagement. We have high hopes that this center will contribute to achieving and advocating for the objectives of the conference and help all of us to keep the momentum.

Watch the highlights video here:

Read the conference report here:

During the conference, the participants came together to provide insights on how to improve the position of women in global health and conceived a call to action that is inclusive, and concerns all the sectors of global health.

Read the full WLGH 2019 Call To Action here:

UGHE Emerging Leaders Academy

November 8, 2019

Along the sidelines of WLGH 2019, in collaboration with Dr. Modupe Akinola, Associate Professor of Management, Columbia Business School; Dr. Katherine Klein, Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management and Vice-Dean, Wharton Social Impact Initiative; Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship; UGHE brought together an impressive group of 92 young leaders of the health sector, aged less than 35 years old, for a day of initiation to leadership and learning from leaders in global health and entrepreneurship. The goal of this gathering was to facilitate discussions around how to learn to be an effective leader, and equally important, how to be an effective team member. The participants committed to undertake a full online leadership course and upon completion will benefit from a two year mentorship, where they will be paired up with a strong mentor. We hope that gatherings like these will pave the way for more young women and men from the global south to take up space on the leadership tables. The future of global health leadership is truly promising.

Grand Challenges Annual Meeting

October 28-30, 2019

The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting is a convening of over 1000 key leaders from across the global community to share best practices, encourage collaboration, and seek solutions for common challenges. The annual meeting aims to build momentum for global health and development innovation and foster scientific collaboration among international groups and researchers. At this year’s conference in Addis Ababa, along with my Research Associate Mimi Frisch, we presented a poster entitled: UGHE: innovation in medical education. It was a pleasure to share the dream we have for UGHE with others in the field of global health and medical education. During the meeting, the African Academy of Science and the WHO signed a memorandum of understanding to seal a partnership whose goal is leverage innovations and sustainably scale them up to guarantee a healthier and more productive future for Africa. It was a very moving moment that promises to further develop research in Africa.

More about the AAS and WHO partnership here:

MANOVA Summit on the Future of Global Health

October 16, 2019

The Manova Summit is an annual conference that brings together global health stakeholders from the private, public, academic, and policy sectors to learn from each other how to create the health systems that the future needs. I spoke to them about the importance of looking at innovations as more than just new and shiny technology and products. Innovation is a mindset and can be created through good governance, collaboration, and having a shared common vision. Using examples from the Rwandan health system such as the Zipline drone program, the HPV Vaccine rollout, and the University of Global Health Equity, I emphasized the need to create health systems that foster innovation especially for countries with few resources. Innovations allow us to fly but we also need innovative advocacy in order to be able to bring others on board whether it be our leaders when mobilizing resources, peers when we need partners in implementation, or the communities that we serve because if the community is not convinced of the usefulness of a program or innovation, it is as good as having created nothing.

Read more about the Manova Summit on the Future of Global Health here:

Vermont Oxford Network Annual Quality Congress

October 5-6, 2019

The Vermont Oxford Network is a network with the mission to improve the quality, safety, and value of care for newborn infants and their families through a coordinated program of data-driven quality improvement, education, and research. At the annual VON conference of 2019, I was invited to give a plenary presentation entitled: The Future of Global Health: Equity, Collaboration and Education, as well as a keynote presentation entitled Reducing neonatal mortality: an equity agenda. As part of the keynote presentation, I also participated on a panel with neonatologists from Zimbabwe, Norway, and Puerto Rico to discuss and compare the challenges and successes of neonatal care in our countries. We learned a lot from each other.

Read more about the Vermont Oxford Network Annual Quality Congress here:

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

October 3, 2019

I was honored to be invited by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to participate in a public dialogue with Brian Hanson about the lessons learned from the rebuilding of Rwanda’s health system following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. We spoke about the thousands of health workers and civil servants who came together to build a health system out of nothing and who created a system based on equity and service to the most vulnerable. There is still much work to be done but we are proud of how far we have come together. I am always honored share and learn with the world that it is always possible to build health systems that serve all even starting from scratch.

Read more about the Chicago Council on Global Affairs here:

University of Chicago

October 3, 2019

At the University of Chicago , I was invited by the Center for Global Health to give a presentation on the HPV vaccination launch and rollout in Rwanda, describing the key factors that led to the success of the program. I spoke about the need for innovative advocacy to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met and the importance of community engagement during every step of the development and implementation of public programs. Partnerships between good leadership, scientific advocates, community, and religious leaders were what made this program a success and they are the key to the success of any health program. This talk catalyzed the partnership between UGHE and the University of Chicago and I look forward to what we can accomplish together.

Read more about the University of Chicago Center for Global Health here:

Access Challenges Panel on Responsive & Resilient Communities & Health Systems

September 23, 2019

While in New York for the UNGA, I was invited by the Access Challenges (explain) serving as a panelist on the Responsive & Resilient Communities & Health Systems panel. This was an interesting conversation discussing the diverse ways that communities and health systems can be strengthened. I spoke about the importance of global health systems and workforce training through equitable education. Others spoke about health data access, community and reproductive health, health systems level responses to disease, and empowering communities by improving infrastructure. This was a timely conversation to happen while the UN community was committing to working towards Universal Health Coverage. The conference was also attended by WHO leadership and H.E. Amira El Fadil the Commissioner for social affairs for the African Union.

Read more about the Access Challenges conference here:

Commonwealth Road Safety Conference

September 3, 2019

I was honored to be invited to speak at the International Road Safety Conference organized by the Towards Zero Foundation and the UK Department of Transportation to make formal commitments towards halving road deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Road related incidents are currently the leading cause of deaths of young people between the ages of 5-29 years. I spoke about why this is a pertinent issue for countries like Rwanda where the majority of the population falls in this age range. This conference brought together some of the leading minds in road safety from all over the world to share best practices and ideas on how to make sure road safety is treated as a priority on a global scale and created a call to action for the global community.

Read more about the International Road Safety Conference here:

Masters of Science in Global Health Delivery Graduation – Class of 2019

August 11, 2019

It was truly an honor to give the welcoming address at the 2019 MGHD commencement ceremony. The graduating class of 2019, cohorts 3 and 4, is made up of 46 students from 11 countries – a global class in every sense of the word. Joined by Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Mrs Jeanette Kagame; the Minister of Health, Hon. Diane Gashumba, who was representing His Excellency the President of the Republic, Chancellor of UGHE, Paul Farmer, and Jim Yong Kim, our key note speaker for the day; we congratulated the students for their great achievements and implored them to keep building strong partnerships of good will to make the world better.

The class pledged to lead with intentionality, integrity, and dignity and to maintain the utmost respect for human life and rights as they go out into the world. We are very proud of our newly graduated lions and look forward to all the great things they will accomplish wherever they go.

View more images from the 2019 MGHD graduation here:

MGHD Masterclass 2019

August 10, 2019

It was one of my proudest moments to moderate a discussion between the students from our two graduating cohorts and my dear friend and brother Paul Farmer. During this two hour conversation, the MGHD students engaged in discussions on philosophical ideas such as neocolonialism and restorative justice as well as more practical issues like resource mobilisation for better health systems. We also spoke extensively about the role of anger in mobilising the work needed to change the world for the better. The graduating class of 2019 includes doctors, nurses, civil servants, mental health professionals, to name a few, and it gives me great hope to know that they will be leading the charge for better health for all especially the vulnerable. 

Read more about the MGHD program here:

ALforHealth Conference

July 19, 2019

I was pleased to be a part of African Leadership Academy’s inaugural healthcare conference, ALforHealth, which was held in Kigali, Rwanda with the aim to build and sustain a network of changemakers who will work hard to change the world with big ideas. I spoke to small groups of young, ambitious African women and men about the work we all for the recovering of the Rwandan health system from the complete destruction of the Genocide against the Tutsi of 1994. Central to this conversation was the role that innovation and research have played in both my own career and the development of my country’s health system.

This conference was in partnership with our university. Later that afternoon, we had the pleasure of hosting a breakout session at the UGHE Kigali Campus to introduce the group to the vision and mission of our organization and discuss what universal health coverage means and how we will achieve it.

Read more about ALforHealth here:

Global Health Corps Training Institute

July 12, 2019

I was thrilled to speak to the new class of Global Health Corps fellows before they went out to start their year of intensive immersion into global health work. I spoke to them about the importance of optimism in the work that we do in global health. Without optimism, we would not have gotten Rwanda from where we were 25 years ago and we will need to stay optimistic for the journey ahead. I was proud to spend the day with the future of global health leadership who set out into the world to do everything with equity in mind. The future is bright!

Read more about Global Health Corps’ work here:

Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference

July 10, 2019

The 19th Conference on Health and Humanitarian Logistics, brought together people from various sectors, private and public, to tackle the issue of logistics for health. I joined Dr. Lloyd Matowe, Program Director, Pharmaceutical Systems Africa and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Lusaka Apex Medical University, Zambia; Ugochi Daniels, United Nations Resident Coordinator- I.R. of Iran, United Nations.Former Head of the Humanitarian Branch, UNFPA HQ; Dr. Henry Kyobe Bosa, Outbreak & Epidemic Senior Public Health Officer, Outbreaks and Epidemics, African Risk Capacity; and Dr. Julie Swann, Department Head & Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, NC State University; Co-founder, Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems (CHHS) to discuss different ways to build resilience into our systems through education, early warning systems, and not leaving anyone behind. Applying the principles of implementation sciences with honesty and transparency will support all journeys to success.

Read more about the Health and Humanitarian Logistics conference here:

The Inauguration of UGHE’s MBBS Program

July 9, 2019

Image credit: Phaedra Henley

On July 9, 2019, we officially welcomed the inaugural class of medical students to our beautiful UGHE Butaro Campus in Burera, Northern Province, Rwanda. The class is comprised of 30 young and eager minds, of whom 70% are women. All students have made the commitment to work for vulnerable people in need, for at least six years after they finish their training. The education is free. They can work for public sectors, governments, UN, NGOs, etc…and keep all their salary without reimbursing anything as long as their work is in service of the vulnerable in need. The six and a half year bachelor level medical degree, coupled with a masters degree in global health delivery, is heavily grounded. We are very excited to be educating the minds and hearts that will change the way health sciences are taught and health care is delivered around the world, for the better. I gave a lecture introducing them to the history, the mission and vision of UGHE, that they are now a part of and the responsibility they have to upholding the values of equity and community.

Read more about UGHE’s MBBS program here:

Kigali Global Dialogue

July 3, 2019

At the inaugural Kigali Global Dialogue, I was pleased to be on a planel of exceptional African health leaders to discuss the intricacies of building strong health systems especially during and post crisis. I was joined by Hon. Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Minister of State, Ministry of Health, Rwanda; Hon. Issa Mardo Djabir, parliamentarian from the Republic of Chad; Rachel Toku-Appiah, Programme Manager, Graça Machel Trust; Freddy Nkosi, Senior Manager, Advocacy & Communications, VillageReach; and Virginia Comolli, Senior Fellow for Conflict, Security and Development, International Institute for Strategic Studies. This Dialogue was a start to what will become an annual convening of minds to tackle contemporary issues surrounding development and growth. We discussed the mutual accountability that concerns government but also NGOs that receive money to care for the vulnerable. They need work with the same efficiency and efficacy during peace and development or during war and unrest. How to do this successfully is part of what we teach at UGHE.

Read more about the Kigali Global Dialogue here:

Taking the Lead on Global Health panel during the Aspen Ideas Health

June 22, 2019

Image credit: Katie Drasser

On this panel during Aspen Ideas: Health, I joined Victor Dzau, President of the United States National Academy of Medicine; Robert Newman, Director of Aspen Global Innovators Group; and moderator, Peggy Clark, Executive Director of Aspen Global Innovators Group, to discuss the role of good, effective leadership in the delivery of global health. I spoke about the need for humility, trust, and listening to the people when it comes to delivering health services and leading in general.

Watch the full session here:

Reproductive Rights Still a Battleground Panel during the Aspen Ideas Health

June 21, 2019

Image credit: Leana Wen M.D.

On this panel during Aspen Ideas: Health, we discussed the way forward for reproductive rights globally. I had the pleasure of joining a remarkable group of women: Leana Wen, MD, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Shadia Elshiwy, MD, Assistant Regional Director for International Planned Parenthood Federation in the Arab World, Aspen Institute Fellow, and moderator, Pat Mitchell – TEDWomen. I spoke about the global nature of the fight for reproductive rights and the power that comes with women being able to have full control over their own healthcare.

Watch the full session here:

Wellcome Global Monitor Launch

June 19, 2019

Image credit: Rob O’Malley

At the launch of the world’s largest survey on global attitudes towards science, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President & Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health, Merck, Mae Jemison, First woman of colour in space and Principal of the 100 Year Starship Initiative, and Imran Khan, Head of Public Engagement, Wellcome. With Jon Clifton, Global Managing Partner, Gallup, moderating we discussed the findings of the survey and their implications on the global community going forward. I spoke about Rwanda’s high levels of trust in vaccines and how we achieved this using a participatory process that involved all stakeholders.

Read more about the Global Monitor Report here:

T20 Summit

May 27, 2019

At the annual Think 20 Summit of 2019, I participated in a panel discussion along Masahiko Kiya (Deputy Assistant Minister, International Cooperation Bureau, Ambassador for TICAD, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan), Sachin Chaturvedi (Director-General, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)), and moderated by, Gabriel Leung (Dean of Medicine and Helen and Francis Zimmern Professor in Population Health, the University of Hong Kong) discussing recommendations to be made at the G20 Summit regarding achieving Universal Health Coverage globally. The recommendations will be presented at the G20 Summit in Osaka in June. I insisted on the need to create global regulations that protect the developing world against brain drain. The loss of qualified medical professionals to the developed world is a significant obstacle to achieving universal health coverage.

Read more about the T20 Summit here:

Exemplars in Under 5 Mortality: Bangladesh workshop

May 2019

In this dissemination meeting, I and my Co-PI Lisa Hirschhorn, along with my team, presented the findings from the Bangladesh Exemplars in Under 5 Mortality case study to the various stakeholders. Together we discussed the validity of the findings and answered questions from the stakeholders who were present at the meeting. We were positively impressed by the responsiveness and the quality of research skills from the ICDDR,B.

SDG3 Workshop: Elevating national research for health priorities to achieve effective scale-up

May 5 – 7, 2019

Image credit: UGHE

Co-hosted by UGHE and Wellcome Trust, I was honored to be a part of the team leading this workshop that brought together health research professionals from all over the world to come up with ways we can improve how research is carried out on a global scale. Some of the topics that were covered were: who sets and owns national health sector research agendas, how can we coordinate global health research in a more efficient way, how do we increase the numbers and variety of the people producing quality health research? We agreed that we need to create skills in countries to set their own national health research agendas that respond to their specific needs. Wellcome Trust and WHO will present the report to major global players.

Read more about the Global Action Plan here:

Women’s Leadership Summit

April 23, 2019

I was honored to join an incredible group of women at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center for a few days of reflection, learning from one another, and committing to engaging in regular connected and facilitative leadership as we work towards various global goals. I spoke about the importance of improving access to reproductive health and rights if we are to build a more gender equitable world, not only for women but for everyone.

Read more about the Women’s Leadership Summit here:

Exemplars in Under 5 Mortality – Senegal workshop

April 14 – 19, 2019

In this dissemination meeting, I and my Co-PI Lisa Hirschhorn, along with my team, presented the findings from the Bangladesh Exemplars in Under 5 Mortality case study to the various stakeholders. Together we discussed the validity of the findings and answered questions from the stakeholders who were present at the meeting. We congratulate the team in Senegal, who stayed until 7pm to finish, for their show of commitment.

Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference

April 13, 2019

Image credit: Marie Martin

At the Unite for Sight GHIC on April 13th 2019, I gave a keynote address emphasizing the moral imperative for us all to be optimistic on this road to achieve the SDGs. I elaborated on the ways in which optimism has been a large driving force behind the development of my country’s health sector and Rwanda’s progress as a whole. I was also a part of a panel seeking to highlight the importance of responsible engagement and integrity in global health along Jordan Levy, Chief External Relations Officer of Ubuntu Pathways, and Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer of Partners In Health and Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Read more about the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation conference here:

Vassar College Visit

April 12, 2019

On April 14th, 2019, I visited the Vassar College campus in Poughkeepsie, New York to meet with President Elizabeth Bradley and some of the diverse student body. It was a pleasure to exchange with the Vassar community on the need for  the equity agenda in the development of a health system. The mission of the trip was to cement the partnership between UGHE and Vassar College in educating the future of global health in Rwanda. Vassar will be contributing to the liberal arts part of our curriculum and in turn assuring our students graduate with a better understanding of the world and the societies in which they will work. I also attended a great lecture by Jamaica Kinkaid… I felt the solidarity from the Vassar community when they assisted remotely with me to the commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi event at UGHE.

Watch the video on the Vassar – UGHE partnership here:

SGO 50th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer

March 16, 2019

Image credit: Paula Anastasia

I was invited to be the presidential speaker at the At the 50th Annual Meeting for the Society of Gynecologic Oncology on Women’s Cancers (March 16-19) in Honolulu, HI. In attendance were many professionals from every stage of the gynecologic cancer care spectrum. I spoke about Rwanda’s success with rolling out the HPV vaccine, as well as the need for data driven social and political activism for change. We discussed how lack of trust can lead to missed opportunities such as the underutilization of the minority cancer program in the United States.

Read more about the Society of Gynecologic Oncology here:

SDG3 Global Action Plan research accelerator workshop – optimising the global research system

February 22, 2019

Image credit: Rachael Crockett

At this workshop hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London, we discussed strategies that can be employed to produce and use research more efficiently on the road to achieving SDG3. In line with the Global Action Plan: Accelerator 5, ways to increase international collaboration, research agenda streamlining, and recommendations for the future of health research and development were some of the topics of discussion. During this meeting, we made the decision that the next one would take place in Kigali.

Read more about the Global Action Plan here:

Fixing the Fundamentals: Lessons from Rwanda’s Healthcare Sector

Published by the Africa Business Conference at Harvard Business School

March 10, 2019

Image credit: Claire Wagner

“A good entrepreneur is a good advocate”

In this keynote address to the Africa Business Conference at Harvard Business School on February 16, 2019, I described the successful strategies taken in the Rwandan health sector to rebuild and work for equity in the time since the genocide in 1994. I elaborate on ways in which a government can make great progress by planning and acting as a business, and I describe how the private sector has an essential role to play in human development and health for all.

Watch the full keynote address

Leadership and Management: Critical Barriers to Improving Health Outcomes

Panel during the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Annual Conference on March 8, 2019

“Former CDC Director William Foege stated, ‘the lack of management skills appears to be the single most important barrier to improving health throughout the world.’ Strong leadership and management capacity are essential ‘force multipliers’ within health systems that increase the prospect of better health outcomes. However, without consensus on definitions and investment in robust evaluations to measure impact, evidence isn’t available to inform decisions regarding prioritization, adaptation, or scale-up. Panelists will describe efforts to build leadership and management and discuss the pressing need to create a shared agenda for professionalization of leadership and management education in the global health context.”

It was a privilege to start International Women’s Day with a panel composed of such knowledgeable women, Amy Lockwood, Strategic Advisor to AIDS Research Institute & Center for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy at UCSF’s Institute for Global Health, Heather Anderson, Senior Vice President of Programs at Global Health Corps, Erika Linnander, Lecturer in Public Health (Health Policy) and Director of the Global Health Leadership Initiative at Yale University, and Erika Willacy, Program Lead for the Improving Public Management for Action (IMPACT) Training Program at CDC.

Read more about CUGH 2019 here:

Planning and Action for Cervical Cancer Elimination in Rwanda: Lessons Learned from Sustaining Success and the Way Forward

Panelist on “Eradicating Deaths from Cervical Cancer” at the 7th Annual Symposium on Global Cancer Research

March 7, 2019

Image credit: CUGH News

In this panel presentation, I delivered a keynote address describing the planning and implementation of HPV vaccine in Rwanda and efforts for cervical cancer elimination. I shared lessons learned and next steps for other countries and for international actors regarding cervical cancer elimination and delivering quality cancer care in developing countries and around the world.

Read more about this symposium here:

Global Public Health Today and Tomorrow Panelist at Festival of the Arts Boca

March 4, 2019

Image credit: Festival of the Arts Boca

“Two esteemed experts on global health issues – one American, one Rwandan – offer a panel discussion on the state of world health.

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, an initiative of Partners in Health, brings her perspective as a practicing physician, scholar, and government health official, including having served as Rwandan Minister of Health. She is active in advocacy and political mobilization on behalf of women and children, in Rwanda and worldwide. Partners In Health is focused on changing the way health care is delivered around the world.

Thomas Bollyky offers the insights of a scholar and author, having directed the first Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force devoted to global health, and he also is the author of Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Felicia Knaul, Director, Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas and Professor, Miller School of Medicine, and it will be introduced by Boca Raton Regional Hospital President and CEO Jerry Fedele.

Read more about the Festival of the Arts Boca here:

Global Health Equity and the Research University: An Update from Rwanda Panel discussion with Dr. Paul Farmer and moderated by Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee

February 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School

Image credit John Meara

In this panel discussion, Paul Farmer and I share our experiences and secrets for success in global health delivery. The central motivation is focusing on those who have been excluded, and, in doing so, you will reach every person. Dr. Farmer and I also discussed how the University of Global Health Equity will solve a leadership, research, and implementation science gap in global health delivery by educating our students in the principles of equity, One Health, and evidence-based decision making.

Interview and Discussion at Harvard School of Public Health

February 14, 2019

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

On February 14th, 2019, I was interviewed by Dr. Joseph Rhatigan, Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, at the Harvard School of Public Health regarding my experience working for health and development with an equity agenda. I engaged with Dr. Rhatigan and his students in a discussion of the nuances of implementing this equity agenda and shared my experiences as a global health fighter, public servant, and now Vice Chancellor.

Read more about the Harvard School of Public Health’s academic offerings

Screening of Bending the Arc and Moderated Discussion at The Conduit in London

Screening and discussion on February 11, 2019

On February 11, 2019, I participated in a screening of Bending the Arc and a post-screening panel discussion with Dr. Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School. Our discussion centered around the lessons from the film and the lessons we can draw from the activism and advocacy of Partners In Health that resulted in systemic change in many countries.

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Optimizing leadership and organization in healthcare: Restructuring health systems to ensure universal coverage

Speaker at the Rhodes Healthcare Forum at Oxford on February 9, 2019

Image credit: Wilder Wohns

“In 2019, our theme is ‘From Surviving to Thriving’. We rightly celebrate our remarkable progress to reduce death and disease worldwide. Our focus must now shift to goals beyond just reducing mortality, to create a future where everyone can enjoy thriving health. We must pursue wellbeing, prevent disease, reduce inequality and seek justice for all. We will discuss opportunities and approaches in technology, epidemiology, public health, drug discovery, biomedicine and policy to promote global thriving

We have invited experts and innovators in to bring depth to these discussions. Scholars will be encouraged to apply the ideas generated over the weekend in initiatives spanning their time at Oxford and beyond.”

In this talk I outlined successful strategies for optimizing health systems for the benefit of all citizens, with the goal of universal health coverage, using Rwanda as an example.

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Opening Address at AMP Health’s Leadership Lab Welcome Reception

January 27, 2019

Image credit: Aspen Innovators

I spoke to the participants in the Aspen Management Partners for Health Leadership Lab at the kickoff of their intensive training in Rwanda about the importance of leadership and management in Rwanda’s journey to health excellence and in achieving the goals for Primary Health Care across Africa. UGHE and AMP Health are seeking to build strong health systems of the future and are forging the potential for even stronger collaboration. AMP Health works in partnership with Ministries of Health across Africa by strengthening leadership and management capabilities to accelerate achievement of the shared goals of the Primary Health Care (including Community Health), Universal Health Coverage, and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

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Welcome Address at UGHE’s Butaro Campus Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Address

January 25, 2019

“Dr. Agnes Binagwaho speaks at the campus inauguration ceremonies for the University of Global Health Equity in Butaro, northern Rwanda, on Jan. 25, 2019. Photo by Illume Creative Studio for UGHE” from

On the event of UGHE’s official Butaro campus launch on January 25th, 2019, I spoke to our esteemed guests and colleagues to share our collective story of Rwanda and PIH’s journey in health equity, our thanks to the community and local and national government for their support, and our vision for this university and the field of global health delivery.

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Promoting research and Education towards Hepatitis Elimination in Sub Saharan AfricaCo-moderator of session with Professor Phil Cotton

December 12, 2018

Image credit: PIH Rwanda

Professor Phil Cotton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, and I led a lively discussion about the promotion of research and education for Hepatitis C virus elimination in Rwanda and the world. This event was convened to mark the launch of Rwanda’s Hepatitis C virus elimination plan.

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Leadership Master Class at the Gavi EPI LAMP Closing

Interviewed by Erika Linnander of Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative

Image credit: Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative

I spoke with the participants in the Gavi EPI Leadership and Management Program on the occasion of their graduation from the program to deliver a call to action for the health sector leaders to continue to develop their leadership and management skills and implement innovative projects in immunization.

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Observations and Expectations for G20 Universal Health Coverage: An African Perspective Presented at T20 Inception Conference

December 5, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan

Image credit: Think20 Japan Inception Conference

I was invited by the T20 Japan Secretariat, in preparation for the G20 meetings in Japan in 2019, to discuss global cross-cutting issues and advise on roadmaps for policy recommendations to the G20. At this conference, I shared my views on universal access to care for the developing world and emphasized the importance of not doing “one package” for the world but instead to move forward based on capacity of countries, keeping with high expectations for global progress.

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Safe surgery: collaborating to increase access and improve outcomes

Panelist at UBS Global Philanthropy Forum

November 30, 2018 in St. Moritz, Switzerland

Image credit: UBS Global Philanthropy Forum

On this panel I encouraged all actors to align with the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery recommendations and met with philanthropists who are eager to help countries around the world to help in this effort. I offered advice on how to do this in an integrated systemic manner. I also spoke about my experiences in building a health sector and working within a leadership culture that has an equity mindset.

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Speaker/panelist at World Innovation Summit for Health

November 13, 2018 in Doha, Qatar

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

On this panel, we engaged in a lively discussion about the need for distinctions and cooperation between measures of social capital and human capital. I argued that social cohesion is a more important factor for mental health than economic potential and that this is key to understanding and addressing mental health challenges for children and adolescents.

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Equity in Academic Global Health Partnerships Panelist at Women Leaders in Global Health Conference

At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

November 9, 2018

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

On this panel, we discussed inequity in academic partnerships as a serious problem that needs to be addressed. We came together to talk about the barriers and opportunities for more equitable partnerships in the interest of advancing science and health for all. I spoke about the need to raise awareness and build partnerships and relationships with other institutions in the developed and developing world in order to combat structural violence and “-isms” that prevent true gender equity and fair partnerships in academia around the world.

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Taking global health work from silos to systems: How might we align incentives across sectors?

Panelist at Prescription for Progress: The essential role of partnerships in strengthening health systems

October 30, 2018 at Devex in San Francisco, California

Image credit: Devex

In this panel, I argue for stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors and communities and push all stakeholders to take risks on innovation. To move forward for equitable healthcare access for all and effective health systems, we need to gather everyone involved around one table and one vision for health and development, and stop treating governments like children who are out of touch with the needs of their people. This requires greater accountability from all parties.

Watch the full panel (43:37 – 1:16:48)

Reimagining health education for quality service for all is a good business

Presenter in Med 285 course at Stanford University

October 24, 2018

Image credit: Fauzia Dawood

I gave a lecture to the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute Fellows about why quality health education is a smart business strategy – because less money is spent on economic development when funds are spent disproportionately on disease. When populations are healthier, more economically productive people are able to work and build their local economies, leading to overall economic development. This was a vibrant, multigenerational group with a wide range of expertise from around the world.

Read more about this institute and fellowship

Quest for an effective health system: 20 years of Rwandan experience Grand rounds presentation at El Camino Hospital

October 23, 2018 in San Francisco, California

This presentation focused on accelerating access to health by embedding trust between clients and service providers, and the need to cultivate that trust among community members. I described the experience of Rwanda in rebuilding our health sector through individual and community trust in the leadership as a key tool for implementing needed health reforms.

Address to Students of the Castilleja School

October 22, 2018 in Palo Alto, California

Image credit: Fauzia Dawood

I was delighted to speak with this young group of women about my career in global health. These children were truly thinking strategically about how to find solutions for being productive in the communities in wish they will work in the future when they are young professionals. It showed me again how important it is to receive quality education that encourages this type of strategic thinking and a sense of social justice in students.

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Rwanda’s Health Care Transformation: A Model for Success

Featured speaker

October 18, 2018 at the World Affairs Council of San Francisco

Image credit: World Affairs

In this “salon talk-style” conversation with Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev, I discussed what it takes to build an equitable health system and how human development is needed to sustain economic development. I shared stories of using technology (like Twitter) to communicate with beneficiaries and call out big health multilateral organizations to reconsider their inaccurate Rwanda data and how to use “reverse innovations” and innovative partnerships for better health outcomes for all.

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The Role of Educational Institutions in Creating Social Change

Fireside chat

October 16, 2018 at the Harvard Club of San Francisco

In this presentation, I described why we need to revisit educational systems in order to create social change for better service delivery. I examined if the training provided today appropriate to reach the SDGs, why we need to take a global health approach, how Rwanda’s brought about progress using knowledge-based development strategies (and the consequences of not doing so), and how we can change access to education to foster positive social change.

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Rwanda’s Journey to Reducing Under-5 Mortality: Embedding equity in child health

Keynote address at the 2018 Summit for Pediatric Global Health, Mass General Hospital for Children

October 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts

Image credit: Global Health @ MGH

In this address, I shared Rwanda’s journey for under-5 mortality reduction – a journey of collaboration and visionary leadership to ensure healthy lives for kids and for all. We did this through an equity agenda and evidence-based decision making – as we did with everything in the health sector – as a key strategy for saving lives and reducing morbidity.

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Screening of Bending the Arc and Post-screening Discussion

October 12, 2018 at the Dickey Center at Dartmouth College

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

After the screening of Bending the Arc, students, faculty, and staff engaged with me in a discussion about bringing stakeholders around a singular vision for better health outcomes for all.

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Meeting of the Friends of Vision group at the United Nations

Speaker on October 11, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

At this meeting, to mark World Sight Day, I spoke at the founding meeting of the Friends of Vision group at the United Nations, which includes Clearly, Ambassador Webson, UN Permanent Representative of Antigua & Barbuda, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. I shared lessons learned in Rwanda from working with Vision for a Nation to fight for universal access to eye care.

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Invest, Innovate, Empower: Marshalling Collective Action to Drive the Women’s Health Research Agenda Forward

Panelist at the Magee-Womens Research Summit

October 9 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

On this panel, we discussed the persistent gender inequity that leads to both a lack of women in research and a lack of research about women’s specific health needs. We need to increase women in STEM fields – in representation as researchers, which will hopefully also increase representation in research. Building a sustainable health system requires the competency to design and implement policies and legal frameworks that are evidenced-based and utilize available data but if your data misses half of your population’s needs, then your decisions will not be truly evidence-based. I argued for shifting the health research agenda towards gender equity, elaborating on lessons learned from HIV/AIDS research advocacy and proposed the way forward to increase resources for women’s representation in health research.

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Reducing the Rate of Maternal and Infant Mortality: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities Panelist at the Magee-Womens Research Summit

October 9 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Image credit: Kateri Donahoe

Each country faces different social determinants of health that must be addressed to solve clinical issues. Not doing that will make you fail to create the health system based on inclusion, equity, and quality for all, responding to the needs of the people in their community. In this panel, I discussed how to realistically address maternal and infant mortality – which in US means you must have honest discussions about institutional racism, and in other contexts means facing your unique challenges and threats to women’s health head-on.

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Forum on Neglected Tropical Diseases Panelist at the Access Challenge’s Universal Health Coverage Conference 2018

September 24, 2018 in New York

Image credit: Kelly Healy

I joined other global health leaders on this panel to discuss NTDs, which affect 1.5 billion people globally, and why we need to sustain ambition toward Universal Health Coverage to beat these diseases. I spoke the importance of integrating NTD care more strongly into primary health care structures, building country capacity, encouraging leadership to tackle these illnesses, and using data to measure successes to incentivize action towards eliminating NTDs.

Read more about the Access Challenge

The Humanitarian Use of Drone Technology: Innovations for Health in Rwanda

Presenter at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

September 20, 2018

Image credit: Umulinga Karangwa

In this presentation, I described Rwanda’s successful implementation of drone technology for delivery of needed health supplies to remote locations, greatly reducing delivery delays and, ultimately, saving lives in difficult-to-reach areas. I illustrated how the use of drones can be a great innovation for health service delivery. It is a lesson about how Africa can leap into the future and solve problems using science the most advanced technology to solve persistent health issues.

Read more about Rwanda’s drone delivery program

Nationwide Rollout of the HPV Vaccine in Rwanda: Embedding equity in cancer control planning Presidential plenary speaker at the International Gynecological Cancer Society Meeting

September 15, 2018 in Kyoto, Japan

Image credit: BJ Rimel

I was invited to deliver the Presidential plenary address at the IGCS 2018 meeting about Rwanda’s national HPV vaccination program: the need, advocacy efforts, rollout, controversies, and the larger context of cancer treatment in our setting. I also shared lessons learned and next steps. This example is a perfect case study of Rwanda’s practice of early adoption, of innovating for health, and of putting the most vulnerable citizens at the forefront of our minds when implementing health interventions.

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Exemplars in under-five mortality reduction: A case study of implementations strategies and contextual factors in Rwanda

Research presentation at Rwanda Ministry of Health 2018 Health Research and Policy Day

August 24, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda

Image credit: UGHE

At this Health Research and Policy Day, I presented the preliminary results of a novel research project that involves using implementation science methods to seek out transferrable knowledge for reducing under-5 mortality from countries that have exceeded expectations in this key health indicator. Rwanda was the first of many countries where this research was conducted, and we plan to use this methodology to develop a toolkit for countries who wish to successfully reduce child mortality.

Promotion of multisectoral partnerships for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases

Presenter/panelist at the Interactive Hearing as part of the preparatory process toward the Third High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on NCDs

July 5, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Image credit: United Nations Web TV

In this interactive discussion, we discussed the opportunities and challenges of engagement with the private sector, academia, civil society, and communities for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. I argued that private, public and community partnerships are key to reducing the burden of NCDs and efforts to do so in Rwanda have been possible for us because of the government’s support of community health centers, new health interventions, and other private and public health organizations within the country. We know that civil society has an essential role to play, alongside government and business, in tackling NCDs in Rwanda, and around the world. I also argued that the private sector has shirked their responsibility for the current state of NCDs and their role in creating obesity- and smoking-related illnesses. To move into an era of real partnerships, the private sector must employ real accountability, transparency, and truth-telling.

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Health Systems Strengthening: The Experience of Rwanda

Presenter/panelist at Global Health Corps Training Institute

Yale University on July 2, 2018

Image credit: Mia Lei

At this GHC Training Institute, I spoke to the new GHC Fellows about health systems strengthening and the building blocks of health systems needed to foster human development and break the cycle of poverty and disease. I shared my experience in the Rwandan health sector and the revolutionary solutions we employed in leadership, data collection and use, community engagement, and equitable health delivery in order to achieve more for the health of our people. After my presentation, I engaged in a panel discussion with Dr. Prabhjot Singh about how these young professionals could work in their fellowships to reduce health inequities.

Read more about the GHC Training Institute