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Election Candidate Q & A

Below you will find the questions submitted from the iHEA community for the candidates running in the upcoming Board elections. The candidate answers are included as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to us via Twitter (@healtheconomics) or to until November 15. 


President-elect questions:

I have followed the involvement of Richard Smith 
& Audrey Laporte keenly since joining iHEA 12 years ago and am happy about their nomination for President-elect of iHEA. Following questions/comments:

  • I have reviewed their election statements and find them less convincing re: approach to expanding reach to developing regions, improving inclusiveness. What specifically/broadly do you plan to do to promote inclusiveness of these regions?
  • I serve on the iHEA professional development subcommittee and know his passion for mentoring but the statement gives no broad issues he would plan to do to promote inclusiveness: the current list of nominees for Board election includes no single person living and working in developing regions. Again, the program committee has little such representation. How exactly do you plan to encourage people in developing regions to participate more in iHEA activities? What will you do differently? 

Submitted by: Justice Nonvignon


Richard Smith

Many thanks for your kind words, and these are such brilliant questions to start us off on the campaign trail! There is, of course, a word limit to the election statement so I am sure there are many, many things we have not covered that we should.  So, on your core issue of promoting greater inclusion of developing regions…

As you know I have been involved in many of the developments in recent years in iHEA and, based on the iHEA2020 report, we have made some good progress in small ways, such as to try and have greater access for languages other than English, but I think the main positive change has been to have regional representation within the Board; based on UN classification.  This has given us the start of being more global in our structures as well as the rhetoric, and has brought some fantastic new colleagues to the table with really valuable insights and suggestions. I think we need to build on this – perhaps going down to another level of granularity as countries build up greater health economics capacity for example, and looking to how we can provide greater support towards regional conferences, meetings and organisations. Then there is expansion of funding towards supporting students (and staff) from LMIC to attend the Congress, and I think more can come through looking for external sponsorship through our new fund-raising sub-committee. I think we also need to build on these regional links to increase representation on iHEA Board and other bodies which begins to build a pool of those ‘eligible’ to be looking for nomination for a future President.

So, that is about building on what we have done, but is there anything ‘different’? I think here we need to be responsive – to find out what the needs/views are from those in these regions and what would be a priority for them. It might be good if we can do something to ‘brainstorm’ this at next congress in 2021 Cape Town perhaps? Having worked in many countries, including LMIC, I have some understanding, appreciation and sympathy with the context and challenges, but obviously I cannot do so fully.  However, I hope it does help me to be perhaps more open and understanding of views and suggestions and working with you and others to try to enable them these ideas and priorities to be enabled.

So, in summary, I think it is not so much about doing a lot of new and different things, but rather doing more and better of things we have already begun, whilst being pro-active in seeking new thinking and ideas. And I see our relationship with the regions as key to this – after all, I can personally ‘encourage’ as much as I like, but ultimately I think it is through supporting regions and their members that we will have most impact in offering reasons to join iHEA, providing support to grow health economics, and ultimately having an impact on health and welfare in the world.

Audrey Laporte

Thank you Justice Nonvignon for your comments and your contributions to iHEA. Assisting in broadening and deepening our membership globally particularly with regard to colleagues in LMIC would be a priority should I be elected President. 

In terms of specific initiatives:

To build capacity and connection more broadly:

  • Continue to work to locate the conference itself in a broader array of countries/continents--We are excited to be going to Africa for the first time and would want to build on that momentum as this increases contact with our colleagues based in LMIC and showcases the excellent people and work being doing done there.
  • Create a virtual forum for exchange/matching where colleagues/students in LMIC can identify interests in collaborating with researchers based elsewhere and in which topics and researchers based elsewhere interested in working with colleagues in LMIC can do same--then support virtual meetings of groups that connect akin to SIGs.

To raise profile of LMIC based/focused work:

  • Awards akin to the Arrow and student paper prizes for research published with a focus on LMIC.
  • Dedicated LMIC focused panel-scheduled without competing parallel sessions dedicated research innovations/policy issues that are of greatest relevance to LMIC.

To ensure representation and inclusion of broad and diverse perspectives in all we do:

  • Require geographic (including LMIC) at all levels of iHEA, e.g. Board, committees, conference program. We've started along this path and with assistance from our members based in LMIC we would keep this momentum going.


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The International Health Economics Association was formed to increase communication among health economists, foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems, and assist young researchers at the start of their careers.

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