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by Clara Pechansky

for the

World Congress of Epidemiology

We extend our warm welcome to the participants in this largest ever IEA Congress. We will have 16 keynote lectures, 43 symposia, 25 lectures and 28 mini-symposia, as well as the traditional IEA regional workshops. Over 5,000 abstracts will be presented, either in poster or oral sessions. Additionally, we created 12 special mini-symposia from selected abstracts. Delegates from diverse continents – represented by the 5 keys in Clara Pechansky´s Recital – will discuss key issues for Epidemiology in the Construction of Health for All: Tools for a Changing World.

The term Construction synthesizes the role of epidemiology in building knowledge for improving public health. In our program, this theme will include discussions on what colleagues from low and middle income countries can learn from, as well as teach colleagues from high-income countries; and on how epidemiology can inform public health to improve health systems. The interfaces between epidemiology, advocacy and policy will receive special attention.

As the Alma-Ata declaration is 30 years old this September, the concept of Health for All in the conference theme has received great attention. The Brazilian experience with a universal national health system, completing in 2008 two decades of existence, will be spotlighted. But the theme goes well beyond Brazil, covering issues such as the social determinants of health, the Millennium Development Goals, primary health care, and how to eradicate health inequities in terms of gender, ethnic group and socioeconomic position.

The essential methodological role of epidemiology – expressed by the term Tools – will be discussed within the context of new statistical methods, updates on nutritional epidemiology, advances in the design of prospective studies and increasing options for data linkage, to name just a few topics. The keynote of Nubia Munoz – who will receive the first Sir Richard Doll Prize – will describe the superb use of a whole array of epidemiological tools in establishing the causal role of human papilloma virus in cervical cancer, from early etiologic research to the development and testing of preventive vaccines.

Finally, the rapid progress that Brazil is undergoing, with its many inherent contradictions, will provide a backdrop to the theme of a Changing World. Our program highlights major world changes occurring in the early 21st Century. The demographic, nutritional and epidemiological transitions, global environmental changes, new pandemics, population ageing and urban violence will be discussed in several sessions. Our next IEA president, Neil Pearce, will specifically address the theme of epidemiology in a changing world.

Maria Inês Schmidt, Bruce B. Duncan and Cesar Victora
For the Organizing Committee

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