Public Health Think Tank is an entirely student-led initiative that was born in 2014 and since then has been organised by a team of multidisciplinary students. Year after year, the conference has seen Core Teams comprising students who hail from diverse academic backgrounds at New York University Abu Dhabi, united by their passion for public health. This year, the eight-member team has their own sets of reasons for involving itself in public health broadly, and the PHTT conference in particular.
Hafsa Ahmed, one of the Co-Chairs, got involved with PHTT because for her, good health and wellbeing is tied closely to human dignity and she therefore wants to work in public health to ensure that no one has that dignity taken away from them. Kai-Wen Yang, also Co-Chair of the conference, involved herself in public health because for her there is usually a high entry-barrier for healthcare and medicine-related activities, yet public health provides a platform for anyone interested to get involved in the field. Through engaging more audience in the discourse, it can achieve higher mobilization and make significant impacts.
Amy Kang, Director of Marketing, says “I see public health as an intersection between public policy and medicine, both of which I have always loved to learn about. I thus hope to possibly enter this field and make an impact through it.” Tatiana Houhou, Director of Curriculum, considers public health as something that “serves as both a field of inquiry and an arena for action to help protect the health and provide a better quality of life to everyone out there.” Adding on, Gayathri Satheesh, Director of Design for PHTT, believes that despite the advances in medical technology and treatment, access to these innovations are limited to the privileged few. As an aspiring physician, she believes an innovative approach to public health can be the solution to health disparities in the world.
PHTT’s Director of Communications, Tsion Gurmu, notes “I believe people from different arenas of professions need to work together in order to bridge the health disparity that exists in today’s world.” For her, public health provides an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to work towards a better future where everyone has equal access to health facilities. Nejat Mussa, Director of Logistics & Finance, considers health to be one of the basic necessities in life. That said, she thinks that there is a lot to be done in this area (e.g. provision of health infrastructures and at least basic information) specifically in her home country of Ethiopia, as well as many others. “Through public health, issues regarding health can be tackled from a policy and practical perspective at a wider scope,” she says, citing her own reasons for joining this field. Stella Xu, the Director of Outreach for PHTT, also believes healthcare to be one of the most fundamental necessities for humans in today’s society. According to her, public health is important in helping everyone access this right and also in investigating where healthcare systems can be improved to eliminate discrimination and increase accessibility.