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Incoming IEA President Barros Presents Plan For 2017-2020

Calls For Multiple Actions, Including Deeper Engagement With Populations Studied

[Ed. Following is the statement released by Henrique Barros in taking over as President of the International Epidemiological Association at the Incoming Council meeting held in Japan last month. According to IEA, as of August, 2017, there were about 1800 IEA members from over 100 countries, including:

Africa 135                                                          North America 261                                                     

Europe 278                                                        South East Asia 419

Latin American and Caribbean 129                      Western Pacific 457 ]


Barros Statement

Building on Previous Work

This plan is intended to build upon the work done during the previous years, following Cesar Victora intense efforts to increase IEA membership and to support the development of epidemiology and the affirmation of low and middle income countries epidemiologists, and Valerie Beral leadership through difficult financial times and the process of changes in one of the IEA most respected symbols, the IJE. It is thus essential to guarantee during the upcoming triennium that we continue to increase and diversify the membership, more visibility is given to emerging societies, the IEA press remains the most respected journal in its scientific field and we manage to do it keeping a healthy financial context.

Expanding IEA Influence

In 2019 we will celebrate six decades on the adoption of the present Association title, and during this period IEA has been shaping the field of epidemiology around the world. The IEA Members, and in particular those that served as Councilors, comprise some of the most influential epidemiologists in different countries and helped to make epidemiology a respected scientific discipline, evolving into different inspiring directions. One way to keep on track while further exploring new venues is to broaden the influence of IEA to a larger geographical area and to make it the leading association of those involved in the everyday epidemiological labor.

Work with Regions

We will work with the Regions to take advantage of different traditions in terms of education, training and practice of epidemiology, sharing best practices, standards, ways of overcoming difficulties and organizational solutions, lobbying towards agreed targets. The IEA needs to be more visible, approximating international Agencies and Organizations involved in decision making in health, at the Regional and Worldwide levels.

Field Epidemiologists

Epidemiology has been a scientific discipline and an area of applied work be it in relation with public health operations or in the clinical arena. It is important to the IEA to become also the voice of field epidemiologists as it has been so clearly for those more academically oriented. The IEA needs to put more effort in exploring the labor market for epidemiologists, thus going beyond the more traditional Academic perimeter, towards the public and private health and allied services and seeking the needs and interests of non-governmental organizations. A structure will be developed, made of voluntary members available to help NGOs to incorporate epidemiological methods in the design of their interventions or in the process of evaluation. It would enlarge the past activity of mentoring early career epidemiologists, a service provided by some IEA senior members that was highly valued and that needs now a formal evaluation and a new frame of offers.

Founding Spirit Continued

Working groups on such topics as genetics, data protection, big data or globalization, with an interregional dimension, based on different solutions to communicate (internet, two-day workshops) will be strongly encouraged and with it we deeply believe to continue the founding spirit of IEA. The issued documents will promote the presence of IEA in different fora and will expectedly increase our influence as evidence providers near policy makers.

Cooperative activities with other societies will be seek to increase the IEA presence and avoid losing those that due to their more specialized field of interests tend to join preferentially other societies or professional organizations. It will help to keep present the specificities of our methodological approaches in broader contexts, and gain inspiration from other areas.

Younger Epidemiologists

We will promote links between young and early career Epidemiologists in order to facilitate collaboration in scientific research, promote funding, international exchange of researchers and mentoring. The high-quality educational programs for graduate students or epidemiologists in training need to be offered to a wider audience reaching more geographical areas. A scale-up of IEA presence in well established courses, such as Florence, its expansion to other regions or the active promotion of partnerships with national societies can be a winning strategy.

Open Access Publishing

The International Journal of Epidemiology is an excellent ambassador for IEA but engaging in a new open-access medium might be a successful way to increase IEA relevance while offering an additional source of financing.

Participatory Vision

Finally, as epidemiology is a population science, a deeper engagement of the representatives of those populations - be it by means of patient organizations, community leaders or other would increase the chance for a more participatory vision of research and a larger resonance of our work once we would be more able to put the population and their interests at the center of our concerns.

Governing Documents

To make some of these proposals reality and to proceed in a sustainable track there are aspects of our constitution and by-laws that need to be revisited, and the Handbook updated, completing the work initiated during Valerie Beral Presidency. A urgent major change involves the development of a formal framework considering the election procedures and the institutional role of Early Career Epidemiologists representatives.

I look forward to work with you in Saitama and Tokyo and for the next three years

August 10, 2017  ■


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