The IHR strengthening project Pakistan teams visit to UK came as a perfect opportunity to take a break from daily routine work which has increased many folds due to the recent flood emergency in Pakistan. For me it was the first time to attend a UKHSA event in the UK as an IHR strengthening project health advisor. The UKHSA conference provided an arena for experts and learners to share knowledge and experiences on global health security and IHR. The plenary and technical sessions apprised all of us with UKHSAs vision and strategies to tackle health challenges across the globe. I and the team were very excited to present our e-posters at poster sessions. A senior epidemiologist in our team while sharing her experience of the UKHSA conference said ‘’sharing learning at a global platform attracts health discussion and finds new ways to fix a range of public health problems’’. She added that public health system in the UK is complex but clarity in roles and responsibilities has contributed to have an efficient system able to achieve its objectives.

The away days were designed to bring in-country teams together with UK based project colleagues and senior leadership. For me the away days were an opportunity for learning, networking and fun. At the IHR strengthening project away day, in the group of senior health advisors, we exchanged our experiences and shared the hardships we have been facing. The manner in which the senior leadership acknowledged our achievements and encouraged us made it worthwhile. The most entertaining away day was the one arranged by the UKHSA Global Operations division, where IHR countries introduced their team members and country cultures in an entertaining way. I presented slides exploring the unique culture of Pakistan. The dancing performances from the Nigeria and Zambia teams were very entertaining . One of our health advisor colleagues found the away days a source of energy and he said ‘’ Our team welcomed the break and I didn’t know we needed time away from the energy and pace of work until the initial sessions of team away day started’’. More than bringing together all the wider teams that make up the global unit, the team away days were an opportunity to enjoy the lighter moments and get to know each other better. The scavenger hunt was an exercise which I could never have done on my own but together in a diverse and skillful team we found success.

By Dr Wasif Shah