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March 2014
Section on Women’s Mental Health

Vth.International Conference on Women’s Mental Health
“From birth to transcending”

During March13,14 and 15 the V International Conference on Women’s Mental Health “From birth to transcending”, organizedby CES University, through its College of Medicine, was held. The academic event had the participation of nine international speakers, all of them well renowned professionals, coming from United States, Canada, Chile, Peru and Spain. We also had the participation of several Colombian speakers who shared their expertise and academic qualifications.

There were four topics related with the main theme of the meeting “From birth to transcending”:mental health, psycho-oncology, senior women, new approaches and new therapies. 

We also had the support of the IAWMH (International Association for Women`s Mental Health)whose president, Dr. Marta Rondon,attended the meeting as a lecturer; also the World Psychiatry Association (WPA) which was represented by its Secretary for Publications, Dr. Michelle Riba. The Colombian Association of Psychiatry also provided support. 

There were 267 attendees at the meeting, mostly psychiatrists, followed by gynecologists, obstetricians, general practitioners and psychologists.

The pre-meeting activities on 12 March included a symposium for the community in general, at the auditorium of Hospital General de Medellin; the topics selected for this activity were: mother-son attachment relationship, emotional aspects in cancer, teenage pregnancyand gender based violence.In the afternoon, we were invited to participate in Café Generación, a traditional activity that takes place at the El Colombianonewspaper headquarters. There was a massive public attendance of 150 people, to listen and interact with the two international guests: María Inés LópezIborfrom Spain and MónicaKimelmanfrom Chile. 

Both events, directed to the community in general, had great receptivity and interest from the public which participated and interacted with the guest speakers.It is noteworthy to highlight the testimony of Dr. López-Ibor who just recently had been diagnosed with cancer,and she wanted to cheer up those persons who have experienced this disease, to continue with their lives and never stop doing what is important in life. 

The meeting highlighted the advances in the understanding of mental diseases, its approach and treatment, from a gender perspective. Women have different processes to get sick and heal; this was evidenced by the lectures of several speakerswho presented the differences that lie behind the way in which a woman´s brain functions with respect to a man´s brain. 

It is also important to mention the projection of this meetingsince its subject matter is the competence of different medicine areas, with the added advantage provided by the work from the perspective of mental health and gender.This reinforces the need for interdisciplinary work and the possibility of learning afforded when one opens the mind to other forms of understanding health.

To listen to Drs. Javier Escobar and Gloria Bachman, psychiatrist and gynecologist respectively, speak about global health and narrative in medicine respectively was an immense pleasure because their vision demonstrates how the frontiers becomes less visible and every day we understand better that medicine is already part of the globalized world! 

Research was also present in this meeting. The poster presentations were numerous, highlighting the case presentations of high complexity, which were mostly presented by psychiatry residents. We also had the participation of professionals from other countries. 

The support of Government entities, such as the Health Office, Women’s Office and Good Beginnings of the City of Medellin,pleased us very much because we are aware of the need to work in a united front and in a strategic and transverse manner all these topics that are of common interest. 

Another important event was the invitation extended by the Renault Car Company to have a chat in its Medellin headquarters with its employees, both male and female. The topic “Gender equality in the work place” was very didactic, enriching and supplementary for the work being done by the company through its program Women and Renault. Dr. Donna Stewart, guest lecturer, is a UN consultant for the topics related with women’s rights. As an expert, she enlightened the work undertaken by this company with regard to women’s work participation and openness to more equality. 

Two professors from the University of Miami, with which CES University has academic ties, also participated as guest speakers. Two professors, of Colombian origin, MaríaAdelaidaRueda and Samir Sabbag,lectured on Psycho-oncology and Psycho-Geriatrics. These types of inter-institutional alliances permit the academic exchange and help to add up efforts that finally result in the improvement of the mental health of our people. 

Thanks to the work done in the past ten years; we have been able to position the event in the Latin American region.This time we had attendees from Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Panama, Chile, Costa Rica, Bolivia, United States, Canada, Spain and Colombia. 

All of this leads us to conclude that together we make the difference! 

Silvia L. Gaviria

Director  of the Department of Psychiatry, CES University, Medellin, Colombia.


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