Reflecting on health, Recognizing growth, Realizing possibility: Supporting Global Health Research at the International Development Research Centre

In an institution that honours “knowledge, innovation, and solutions,” I have had the privilege of being surrounded and influenced by leaders seeking to create meaningful change in the global world. For the past two and a half months I have been finding my own path towards greater impact, whilst completing my practicum at the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Food, Environment, and Health (FEH) and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program. IDRC is a crown corporation dedicated to funding research and supporting leaders to promote growth and large-scale positive change in low and middle-income countries. The FEH program strives to support policy-change and evidence-based innovations for improvement of food systems, prevention of non-communicable and infectious disease, and implementation of tobacco control strategies. The MCH program aims to support quality and accountable health services to children, women, and adolescents – specifically through health information systems and adolescent sexual and reproductive health research. Although the two programs are quite different, my range of interests has made learning about each thematic area an interesting endeavour. This duality has allowed me to understand cross-cutting themes in health (though juggling two programs is never an easy task).

Within my first month at the centre, I was in a state of awe. I had the opportunity to listen to world leaders in health discuss international strategies to address pressing issues, hear and watch presentations from researchers around the globe, and take part in meetings that help shape the international development research landscape. Needless to say, it has been an experience that words cannot justify.

Being a summer intern I have had the opportunity to aid in each program from multiple different prisms. My day might look like the following: a team meeting to discuss updates and pull in feedback on current projects/tasks, crafting of tweets and communication strategies to disseminate research findings from supported projects, monitoring and evaluation of past and current projects, and aiding in a call for proposal process. These tasks intermix with my practicum project: a mapping and analysis of gender frameworks and indicators in global health research funding institutions (more to come on this in a later post). Needless to say, I often find myself on my toes - my days are filled with thought-provoking discussions and task-completion with the support of other team members.  As a summer practicum student, I had little expectation of what my project and experience might look like. My time here at IDRC has wholly surpassed any expectations. I look forward to continuing to deepen my global health knowledge, discovering more about new innovations, and supporting creative solutions through my work with two fulfilling teams.