Drexel Student attends Diplomacy Conference on Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Department of State.

On Monday June 14, Alexa Karkenny attended a Diplomacy Conference on Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Department of State with Tijen Aybar, Country Affairs Officer, who recently visited Drexel to discuss “weServe Africa.”

Senior officials provided an overview of U.S. priorities in Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the strengthening of public health systems as a particular focus. Providing drugs and treatment, training health professionals, and other efforts through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program were cited as examples. Other officials discussed topics such as global women’s issues, the Sudan Project, U.S. development projects (through USAID), and the Global Health Initiative. Many speakers recognized the importance of empowering African partners and improving access to health. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton concluded by reiterating these priorities of U.S. foreign policy and emphasizing the value of progress through partnerships rather than patronage.

Alexa spoke briefly during the conference, summarizing “weServe Africa” and their approach to sustainable development of both human and technical resources in the areas of biomedical technology and health systems. She also met a former NSF employee with experience in Africa in the area of information technology and medical devices, who expressed interest in this type of "on-the-ground" work. In addition, Tijen invited future meetings at the State Department, with a hope to arrange for more students to attend.

Additional information about the conference, including video coverage and transcripts, can be found on the Diplomacy Briefing Series website (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/pl/diplomacybriefing/142958.htm).