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Image by Kyle Glenn


WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus Addresses IGHRN, 2019

The concept of the International Geospatial Health Research Network (IGHRN) has prompted a series of high-level workshops and symposia on geography and international health research in recent years.

With a focus on Fostering International Geospatial Health Research Collaborations, leading GIScience and health researchers from North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America identified an interim Steering Committee to develop and sustain an operational IGHRN Network. The IGHRN Secretariat functions and management are jointly handled at the two hub universities, Harvard University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). An International Advisory Committee comprising leading geospatial and health researchers from around the world is also being developed.
The International Geospatial Health Research Network (IGHRN) aims to share international research and data, develop geospatial health methods, support new technologies to foster international collaborations and synergies across borders, and to bridge the gap between GIScience health research and the needs of health practitioners on the ground. 
The collaborations underway between IGHRN and researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and organizations around the world suggest that we need new institutional and educational models for successfully integrating geographical and spatial dimensions more effectively into heath research and practice.  Public policies and institutional initiatives that foster the incorporation of spatial data and analysis in global health research and practice hold extraordinary potential for creating new discovery pathways in health research and health services delivery -- the stakes are high. In addition to drawing attention to long standing challenges of traditional and newly evolving diseases, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates urged the US in 2018 to lead the fight against lethal pandemics, noting that we were falling short in preparing the world for the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic.” His prophetic warning was not acted upon. 
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that an expanded International Geospatial Health Research Network has never been more needed. With that in mind, the IGHRN Steering Committee has recently begun to restructure the IGHRN, with multiple university and organizational affiliates involved. We also are developing new interactive web based infrastructure to support our growing outreach and communication needs, and to help international researchers to access and share new spatial health data, research methods, and funding sources needed to address current and future health challenges. 

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