Published: 19/11/2015

In Autumn 2014 we first discovered Polygeia, a new global health think tank which gives students the opportunity to engage in research and policy making.

The organisation was founded in Cambridge by Hari Jeyabelen and Gabriel Lambert. Both medical students, they are passionate about global health and international development.

We met David Neal, Commissioning Editor, and soon knew that a commission with Polygeia could really benefit Lepra as well as offering learning opportunities and experience for students. We decided to work with them on two projects:

• Stigma, women and leprosy in India
• Our communications strategy targeting students in tertiary education

In November 2015 we took part in Polygeia’s Global Health conference. The day was packed with presentations and workshops about ebola, mental health, women’s health, innovation, migrant health and an excellent presentation from the four medical students who had worked on the leprosy research (Shalin Abraham, Jonathan Ellis, Bhavna Ramachandran and Pratyasha Saha).

The communications team, who are also studying medicine, worked to lead a workshop on neglected tropical diseases and the challenges in reaching students with key messages. The team was Ana Bow-Bertrand, Lizzie Elmes, Preya Amin and Abi Wood.

Several of the emerging themes during the day are closely linked with our work: local communities as partners; promoting the inclusion of women in all areas of health and social care; working within existing community structures.

Gabriel Lambert comments:

“It’s been an extremely exciting and busy year for the whole team. We have set up just under 20 research projects and expanded to Oxford, University and Imperial Colleges London. We now need to progress to being a sustainable organisation with full-time staff.”

Polygeia is already having an impact at national level. David Neal writes in Varsity:

“There’s never been a better time to make a difference in global health. There’s optimism and there are opportunities and resources available but there’s still a lot left to do.”