The Making Time National Debate on Global Health 2014

April 17, 2014

Last Thursday, April 10th, the University of Limerick (UL) chapter of the Irish Forum for Global Health Student Outreach Group (SOG), had the pleasure of hosting the All-Ireland Final of the 2nd Annual Making Time Debate on Global Health, at the Graduate Entry Medical School, UL.

Two students from each of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), University College Cork (UCC), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and UL, offered the audience a fantastic debate around the motion:

This house believes international aid removes responsibility for healthcare provision from local governments.”

The event was chaired by Ms Breda Gahan, Global HIV and AIDS Programme Advisor with Concern Worldwide, and the judging panel provided a wealth of clinical and public health expertise, including Dr Yoga Nathan, Dr Busi Mooka, Dr Patrick O’Donnell, and Dr Anne Dee, as well as incorporating debating guidance from Ms Sarah Guerin of the UL Debating Union.


The beauty about this years debate was the diverse backgrounds of the participants as well as the unique debating styles. The participants ranged from seasoned debaters who could provide an impressive and captivating argument with little or no preparation, to those who have never debated before but ensured to engage the audience with their exceptional knowledge of the topic at hand. The high quality of the debate meant that not only was the battle for the trophy fierce, but that the judges were bestowed the difficult task of picking a winning team. Moreover, to add to all of this, four out of eight of the debaters only found out about the motion 24hrs before the beginning of the event! An impressive feat considering the depth and breadth of arguments which the audience saw.


The arguments made ranged from describing international aid as a neo-colonialistic resource-stripping phenomenon to calling it a moral obligation of the “global north” to the “global south” which has already saved millions of lives. As usual, the necessary controversies on the definitions of global health terms was not missed. Is untied aid truly untied? Is international aid paternalistic? Perhaps it all doesn’t matter, as Sinead Mowlds (UCC) our last debater of the night passionately argued, because all those questions and arguments are outdated and the use of complexity sciences is the future!


After nearly 20 minutes of deliberating what has been described as a “very difficult” decision by the judging panel, UL GEMS year 2 medical students Sanskriti Sasikumar and Michael Johnson narrowly snatched the first place from reigning champions, TCD, who were represented by Conor Feely and Anna O’Leary (3 votes for UL; 2 votes for TCD). The debate was then followed by a reception event and a well-attended after-party where the evening was celebrated by guests from all over the island.

It has been an extremely sharp learning curve and between finding suitable judges and chairperson, booking and setting up venues, catering, prizes, advertising, recruiting participants and continuous communication with all those involved took up a considerable time from the 5 student members of the debate organizing committee. Indeed, all this would not have been possible without the patient guidance of experienced senior members of the SOG in Dublin, and from the IFGH operations team, as well as the excellent documentation of last years debate which allowed us to build on what was already created. We are also extremely grateful to our kind sponsors, The Making Time Foundation, whose support has helped the debate to grow bigger and better with each passing year.

There were moments when we all wanted to give up and wished we never got involved in the first place, but those moments when we felt empowered by creating and offering something new for UL prevailed and we are all thankful for the opportunity to host this event in Limerick!

– Martin Mroue

– Photography by Janelle Singh



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