Attending the 18th International Medical Geography Symposium

Charlotte Sturley
BCI UK PhD Student.

In June I presented some preliminary findings from my PhD research at the 18th International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS) in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Prior to the conference I attended a two-day workshop at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch with colleagues from Leeds. During the workshop we heard about the work carried out at the GeoHealth Laboratory – a partnership between the University of Canterbury and the New Zealand Ministry of Health – and discussed ideas for potential collaboration with the University of Leeds. Watch this space!

We had some time to explore Christchurch, which is still recovering from the aftermath of the earthquake in 2011, before flying to Queenstown for the conference. IMGS brings together health geographers from across the world with research spanning a breadth of topics. Of particular interest to me was a session on engaging with policy makers which included a presentation by the Ministry of Health about developing a cancer atlas for New Zealand.

My talk – investigating variations in colorectal cancer survival by socioeconomic status and area type – was part of a session on area effects and cancer outcomes. There were lots of comments from the audience, particularly around incorporating screening data into my analysis and consideration of the impact of residential and social mobility on outcomes. I hope to address both of these in the next stage of my research.

Being a geography conference the schedule included a field trip. I opted for the mountain biking which (being winter in New Zealand) was very cold and muddy! Afterwards, we were treated to some wine tasting. On the final evening we attended the conference dinner at the top of the Queenstown gondola which included a Kapa Haka performance.

After a poroporoaki (Maori farewell ceremony) the next morning, all that remained was the 30 hour journey back to Leeds which gave me plenty of time to reflect on what had been a fantastic experience!

The next IMGS will be held in Edinburgh in 2021.