I heard some rather surprising news this afternoon (on Twitter, where else?): after 40 years, the Global Health Council has decided to cancel its 2012 Global Health Conference in Washington, DC. In an email circulated this afternoon, the reason the organization gave was:
We appreciate that during tight budget times many members need to prioritize conferences they intend to attend and/or support. The same choices would need to be made by panelists, sponsors and participants. Rather than compete with other health causes and organizations whose missions we support, the Global Health Council Board has decided to cancel our 2012 Conference.
As most people know, the International AIDS conference is going to be held in Washington this summer, which is kind of a big deal. But with all of the global health types descending onto DC at the same time, one might have expected that enrollment at the GHC conference could have been even higher this year than in years past. Clearly not. The conference has been announced for nearly 2 years, so canceling with just under 3 months to go suggests that the situation must be pretty dire.
So what is going on? Are fiscal constraints really making people choose among conferences? Is this a sign that this particular organization, which has been facing some leadership challenges lately, has lost its relevance? Or is it a sign that HIV is the only real issue that most people care about? Or is it something more profound: might broad interest in global health issues be declining? Regardless, this is a worrying sign.Share on Facebook