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Global conference on women's health issues attains goal: teach, learn

Adelphi associate professor Holly Shaw said the exchange of data-driven best practices in urban and rural settings from several continents was just what she had hoped to accomplish in two panels she assembled.

Holly Shaw, center, an associate professor at Adelphi

Holly Shaw, center, an associate professor at Adelphi University, greets a participant after moderating a panel discussion on women's health Thursday,  during the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women.  Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

UNITED NATIONS — Jincy Chacko, a registered nurse at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, perked up during a panel at a global conference here on women’s health on Thursday when she heard about a new low-tech way to have her patients tap into resources by using their cellphones.

The specialist in nursing informatics was intrigued by a gadget that allows a user to download information about women’s health issues with links to online resources to find out more about them.

“It’s a very low-tech approach to solving everyday problems,” Chacko said of the barcode that a user can point a cell phone at to pull up a host of handy graphics and information. “It’s understanding what the global focus is in health care … There is good correlation because it’s good to know that the health system I am working in and the information I’m getting to my leadership is so much aligned with what is happening at a global level.”

The panel —  attended by Chacko and up to 100 other professionals, primarily nurses but including midwives, attorneys and other technical experts in a variety of fields — was assembled and moderated by Holly Shaw, associate professor at Adelphi University’s College of Nursing and Public Health in Garden City.

The gadget was developed by a team of UN Youth Representatives at Lehigh University for a CSW panel event, said Nadine Clopton, one of the students who joined the four-expert panel. Clopton, a youth representative for the Australia-based non-governmental  organization, Caring and Living as Neighbours, added that the device was inspired by a flier distribution system used at the Center for Public Health in Nigeria.

Shaw said that’s exactly the kind of exchange she had hoped to accomplish in two panels she assembled and which took on a global focus, as practitioners shared data-driven best practices in urban and rural settings from several continents.

“That typifies the intent,” she said. “The idea of a young person, teaching her something she now can take to and use … to educate patients, that’s just phenomenal. That’s the idea of this,  to teach and learn and respect the fact that everyone can teach something.”

Shaw moderated two panels at the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women, a two-week conference in its 63rd year that is the UN’s second biggest gathering, drawing some 10,000 registrants. It is second in scale only to the General Assembly, which convenes in late September and includes speeches by heads of state and government who set the stage for the UN’s work throughout the year.

Shaw’s panels, titled “Promoting the health and empowerment of women: Innovative exemplars in global nursing practice, education, consultation and partnership” and “Innovative Mental Health Approaches for Social Protection” center around the conference’s main theme of “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”

Her panelists were as likely to be as local as Brooklyn or from as far away as Australia.

Shaw, who serves as Adelphi’s representative at the United Nations, said she has been moderating and presenting at the Commission on the Status of Women for over a decade. She and Scott Carlin, professor of history at LIU Post, are at least two Long Island academics who played leading roles at the conference.

“The idea for me as part of the CSW culture is to really involve people, not just scholars but grassroots advocates who are passionately involved in these issues and to provide an opportunity for them to interact and go home and be able to apply it in their local or global communities,” Shaw said.

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