WHO Ethics Meeting News Report

WHO guidelines development group met at the Iranian Kish Island in Persian Gulf to catch upon its previous efforts and finalize drafting of a guideline on ethical issues in public health surveillance.

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The meeting which took place from Tuesday 15th to Thursday 17th in December 2015, was made possible through collaboration of four bodies.  WHO set up the agenda and governed the main theme discussions. The Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) supervised the whole program. Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) provided the venue hall and equipment, local staff and logistic necessities. Kerman University of Medical Sciences (KMU) and Regional knowledge hub, and WHO collaborating centre for HIV surveillance carried out the organizational arrangements from pre-meeting communications through finishing up the whole program.

The opening of the program included remarks from Dr Jihane Tawilah, WHO Representative in Iran, followed by a message from Prof Bagher Larigani, the deputy of MoHME for education, which was delivered by Dr Ehsan Shamsi. Professor Aliakbar Haghdoost, the chancellor of KMU concluded this section.

During the meeting, accomplished experts from various fields put forward their views and orchestrated them into a consensual guideline paving the way for ethically-reasonable surveillance programs concerning public health issues. There were two Iranian scientists participating as members of the group and four taking part as observers.

Participants had also the chance to enjoy the comfortable climate of the Kish Island and benefited from seaside landscapes.

At the closing-up session, participants evaluated the whole program through filling out a questionnaire. Processing the collected forms revealed the meeting very successful, thanks to all the parties contributed in an exceptional cooperative manner.

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Evaluation of different parts of the meeting

Overall, 70.5% of participants acknowledged that the opening ceremony was very/extremely useful. About 94.5% of them mentioned that Guideline development section was very/extremely useful, and all participants (100%) believed that working group and closing-up sections were very/extremely useful (Figure 1).

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Evaluation on the meeting organization

As presented in Figure 2, most of the participants were very satisfied with the pre-meeting information, meeting hall and audio-visual equipment used. Only 5.5% of participants were not very satisfied with the pre-meeting information.

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Figure 2- Evaluation of the meeting organization

Evaluation of other logistic arrangements

The evaluations for other logistic arrangements are presented in Figure 3. For almost all the arrangements, more than 60% of participants mentioned that it was very good or excellent. About 18.75% of participants were not satisfied enough with airline transportation. Also,11.11% thought that the arrangements for meals & refreshments were only fair.

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Additional comments

As strength points of the meeting, participants listed following items frequently:

Powerful and well-qualified discussions
Good collaborative atmosphere
Fantastic and knowledgeable teams from Kerman and Tehran universities
Multidisciplinary groups
Expressing and sharing diverse views, active interactions
Wonderful location and great hospitality

While many had not listed any weak points, a few have acknowledged some weak points of the meeting as:

Time management was not good
Some information (i.e. confirmation of tickets) arrived very late
Topics were sometimes difficult to follow and hard to reach agreement on them
Team working could have been more and better

Participants also noted their best memory of the meeting as:

Sight visiting was great
The location of the meeting which was near the beach was fantastic
I got to meet all my colleagues
The hospitality of people from Kerman and Tehran medical universities was great
Fantastic scenery, the beach and the subterranean canal
The chance to visit the aqueduct
People were great