Teach to Reach 10: Over 21,000 Health Workers Unite to Tackle Climate and Immunization Challenges
The Solomon Islands are facing severe climate threats.

On June 20, 2024, over 21,000 health workers from more than 80 countries will attend the tenth edition of Teach to Reach, a two-day peer learning conference organized by the Geneva Learning Foundation. This event is not just another conference—it’s part of a growing movement that recognizes the power of local knowledge and action to solve global health challenges.

This 10th edition will focus on two pressing issues: the intersection of climate change and health and the future of immunization.

On climate and health, participants will share firsthand observations of how changing environmental conditions impact the health of the communities they serve. Health professionals from the hardest-hit communities will respond to thought-provoking questions, shedding light on the challenges, successes, and opportunities in addressing the climate-health nexus. Global health leaders like Dr. Maria Neira from the World Health Organization are participating as Guides on the side, to listen and engage – not as Sage on the stage.

The conference will mark the 50th anniversary of the WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). Immunization leaders from over 80 countries will share their greatest successes and toughest challenges over the past 50 years. Teach to Reach 10 will celebrate this milestone by launching the Nigeria Immunization Collaborative, a partnership of The Geneva Learning Foundation with UNICEF and NPHCDA, to galvanize routine immunization by supporting locally-led action.

Conference Lineup

HPV vaccine
The WHO has recommended a single-dose regimen for HPV vaccines.

The Women Who Deliver Vaccines collective, comprising women working at various levels of the immunization system, will open the conference.

Immunization staff will introduce an HPV vaccination handbook developed from insights gained during previous Teach to Reach sessions.

This handbook exemplifies how Teach to Reach’s peer learning model can foster effective change by developing new, practical knowledge. Drawing on the collective experiences of health workers from diverse backgrounds, it is designed to support successful HPV vaccination campaigns.

It is based on practical insights and strategies shared by health workers at earlier Teach to Reach events.

For example, Penina Oketch from Kenya underscored the importance of keeping a school HPV register and involving teachers and youth in vaccination.

Dr. Portia Manangazira from Zimbabwe highlighted the necessity of thorough preparatory work, which includes identifying and educating key professionals and promoting cross-sectoral collaboration.

Mbuh noted that health workers share specific actions they took and what made those actions successful, bridging the gap between global health guidance and practical application.

Uniting to Combat NTDs

Another highlight will be a plenary session in partnership with Uniting to Combat NTDs on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), where health workers from NTD-endemic regions will share their experiences fighting these diseases that affect the world’s most marginalized communities. We will discuss the devastating impact of NTDs, innovative prevention strategies, the power of community engagement, and the emerging threat of climate change on NTD transmission.

In the fight against malaria, health workers from affected communities will share insights on the challenges, successes, and opportunities in rolling back this deadly disease. There, we will explore lessons learned from community engagement and behavior change strategies, the need for equitable access to interventions, and the path toward the ambitious goal of malaria eradication.

Leaders Forum

Teach to Reach 10 will also feature—for the first time—a forum for leaders of over 2,000 local organizations to share their stories, challenges, and innovations. This forum will highlight the vital role of community-driven solutions in sustainable development. It embodies a commitment to partnerships grounded in mutual respect and a shared vision of a thriving future for every community.

Teach to Reach is part of reshaping global health dialogue that centers on the voices and experiences of those on the frontlines. It’s about going beyond the rhetoric and polemics of “decolonization” – and providing a new mechanism to take on the transformation that many stakeholders recognize is needed but are missing the “how” to make it happen.

It’s a powerful reminder that the most effective solutions often come from those closest to the challenges. By listening to and learning from health workers, we can ensure that global health efforts are aligned with local realities and have the most significant impact.

Since its inception in 2021, Teach to Reach has repeatedly shown that health workers can be genuine agents of change for the communities they serve. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, thousands of immunization staff joined through Teach to Reach to rapidly share emerging lessons on introducing COVID-19 vaccines. This collaborative spirit was instrumental in navigating an unprecedented challenge.

As we look to the future, Teach to Reach 10 promises to galvanize the growing movement of health worker collaboration and leadership. By amplifying frontline voices, promoting local action, and fostering partnerships, Teach to Reach is reshaping the global health dialogue. It’s an invitation for all of us to listen, learn, and join forces with those on the leading edge of change.

Reda Sadki is the founder and executive director of The Geneva Learning Foundation, a Swiss non-profit that researches, develops, and implements new ways to learn and lead in the face of critical threats to our societies.

Image Credits: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash, UNEP.

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