In June 2016, we were experiencing the excitement of delivering a world conference in Northern Ontario that attracted nearly 350 researchers, educators, administrators, students, and health professionals from 12 countries.
ICEMEN 2016 was accompanied by three other partner events: Conference on the Move, a pre-conference bus tour; the Northern Health Research Conference, a conference for health researchers; and, the Indigenous Research Gathering, a collaborative exercise that invited researchers and Indigenous community members together to chart a path forward for collaborative Indigenous research.
All peoples—regardless of where they live—deserve access to health care. Historically, rural, remote, and Northern communities around the world have struggled to recruit and retain health-care professionals. Providing basic universal health coverage is a necessity, and yet, it is something that many communities around the world still struggle to provide due to inadequate health human resources.
In the 1990s, innovative schools around the world began offering education with a focus on providing community-based and community-engaged education in underserved areas to meet the needs of disadvantaged populations. The hope was to educate a health workforce that is ready and able to respond to the needs of rural and remote communities. It became clear over time that it would be a good idea to bring together schools that were providing this type of education to learn together as they chartered new educational territory. These schools could share successes, mistakes, and brainstorm unanswered questions, all for the pursuit of healthier rural and remote communities.
Out of this need, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) in Canada and Flinders University School of Medicine in Australia began to offer international conferences every two years. The fifth in this biennial series of conferences, ICEMEN 2016 (International conference on Community Engaged Medical Education in the North) held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario provided yet another opportunity to convene the global community of health professionals and researchers focused on social accountability and community engagement. With the theme “Putting Communities in the Driver’s Seat,” ICEMEN 2016 participants investigated how community-driven health education and research builds healthy communities.
ICEMEN 2016 was also accompanied by three other partner events: Conference on the Move, a pre-conference bus tour; the Northern Health Research Conference, a conference for health researchers; and, the Indigenous Research Gathering, a collaborative exercise that invited researchers and Indigenous community members together to chart a path forward for collaborative Indigenous research.