Getting the Word Out: IDRC’s Past, Present, and Future Discussed at Inaugural Public Meeting

Some 100 people attended the public forum where McDougall, IDRC President David Malone, and others fielded questions from the crowd and presented an overview of the Centre’s operations and contributions to the developing world.

“IDRC is a familiar acronym in the developing world – the organization is very well regarded – yet here in our own home country, IDRC is not well known,” said IDRC’s Chairman, the Honourable Barbara McDougall, at the Centre’s first Annual Public Meeting held on October 27, 2009 in Ottawa.

“Therefore, we’re always happy to tell Canadians about our work and we look at this meeting as an opportunity to do so.”

“I’m proud of the number of human lives that have been improved thanks to IDRC’s efforts,” said McDougall. “We can’t say exactly what that number is but it must count in the millions, because success rolls out from the centre in waves, and accesses people that we never ever get to meet.”

IDRC, long known for setting new directions in cutting-edge research, will be adopting a new five-year corporate plan in 2010. In years to come, IDRC’s research priorities will include food security and agriculture, innovation in science and technology, economic and social policy, and health – especially health systems – said Malone.

“You can have a silver bullet solution to a health problem, but if you don’t have the delivery systems in poorer countries, they aren’t going to reach those who need them,” said Malone. “So working on health systems is critical to delivering better health results in the developing world.”

Current IDRC health-related programming is already tackling infectious diseases, explained the leader of IDRC’s Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health (Ecohealth) program, Dominique Charron. She gave a timely presentation on pandemics and explained how human activity is contributing to the increased emergence and propagation of infectious diseases.

“Through urbanization, deforestation, agriculture, we change the ecology of infectious diseases. We change how animals, and people, and insect vectors interact, and this allows new diseases to appear and infect people,” said Charron.

“Through its Ecohealth program, IDRC is supporting research that brings together health researchers with ecologists, anthropologists, geographers, and other researchers to try and get at some of these factors that are contributing to disease emergence and disease spread,” she added.

Members of IDRC’s Board of Governors were also in attendance, including long-serving Governor Francisco Sagasti, who lauded IDRC’s support for developing-country researchers and its ability to evolve with the times while staying true to the values on which the Centre was founded.

“I think we really have something that the world needs, and the world has been able to use [it] very, very effectively,” said Sagasti.

Published: 23 Nov 2009

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