Dr Sonu Bhaskar is founding member and Co-Manager of the Global Health Hub Germany’s Community on Global Health and Migration. On 7 September 2022, Dr Bhaskar was awarded the 2022 Australian Global Talent Award – a Global Australian award, supported by the Australian government, which recognises extraordinary contributions by Australians in Australia and globally.
Interview with Hub Community Manager and Australian Global Talent Awardee Dr Sonu Bhaskar
Dr Sonu Bhaskar MD PhD PHF FANA is a neurologist and medical entrepreneur. He is the Executive Director of Global Health Neurology Lab and Founding Director and Chief Investigator of the NSW Brain Clot Bank in Sydney, Australia. Dr Bhaskar was recently awarded 2022 Australian Global Talent award for his contributions to medicine, in the field of stroke and cerebrovascular disorders, his research on, and efforts, to discover the causes of stroke and impact of his work and thought leadership in global health.
In 2019, Dr Bhaskar established the world’s first blood clot biobank in Sydney. He hopes that this initiative will become an important resource in stroke and cerebrovascular research and improve the treatment and prevention of this disease. The award is also a recognition of valuable contributions migrants make to Australia in future facing industries. Dr Bhaskar, an Australian Indian who migrated from India to Australia considers himself a global citizen having worked in various countries. He believes that “Global Health offers a great platform of showing the best humanity can offer, through science, medicine and innovation.”
He says we must unclog geographical barriers and bring people together: “I believe that the future initiatives in health and medicine should have a translational and transnational perspective. It should be about bringing together different countries, different pools of populations, rather than being insular or working in silos. We need to create structures for open innovation and dialogue that bring stakeholders together to address some of the pressing human health and global health challenges.”
Since its beginning, you have been a very active member of the Global Health Hub Germany. Why did you get involved in the Hub?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: I truly believe in academic centres as well as public service-based initiatives. The Global Health Hub Germany is supported by the government, and it brings together actors from academia, industry, and civil society organisations. I am passionate about collaboration as it can yield great benefits to our community. I believe that my engagement with the Hub will hopefully bring people together, not just in Germany but also beyond. This is in the true spirit of what Global Health is all about.
You are one of the Community Managers of the Hub Community on Global Health and Migration. Why did you help set up the Hub Community?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: At the core of the formation of this Hub Community was that as a migrant myself and somebody who has been a migrant for most of my life, I've travelled and lived across different parts of the world. I do understand the lived experiences of migrants. Working at the frontline with communities here in Asia, Asia-Pacific and in Africa gave me a much more granular understanding of what migrants and refugees go through. The Hub is a space for cross-pollination of ideas across all stakeholders. We might disagree on things but it’s a platform to come together and advocate for those from marginalised and vulnerable backgrounds. In the true spirit of humanity, in Global Health, we need to look after the marginalised communities of the world. That is at the foundation and spirit with which I helped set up the Hub Community on Global Health and Migration.
What is the aim of the Hub Community?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: The aim of the Hub Community is to bring together an international team of experts from Germany and overseas, and use this platform for academic exchange, for policy and advocacy on ways we can positively impact the health and wellbeing of migrants and refugees – by putting this vulnerable population right at the centre of the global health debate indeed in Germany, within Europe and globally.
What are current activities of the Hub Community?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: We've got very exciting projects that are being pursued by members of our Hub Community. One of them is the migrant kaleidoscope, initiated by Maureen McGowan, which puts a spotlight on the lived experiences of refugees and migrants. One of the things that I'm very passionate about is to build capacity within by empowering others in the Community to take leadership on these projects. The future of Global Health is not just about taking leadership on these specific aspects that affect migrants and refugees, but also building that leadership within our teams to take that initiative further.
What in your view makes the Hub Community important/relevant?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: We live in very divided times, with war, conflicts, pandemics, climate change and so on and so forth. All of this is affecting our populations. We are seeing recorded migration at a level which we haven't seen before and movement of people fleeing war, stress, and conflicts. This really brings an important challenge to our humanity. The Hub Community brings academics, policymakers and clinicians together to look at the important challenge that these communities face and how best we can advocate for them.
For our readers who are not yet part of a Hub Community or part of the Hub Community on Global Health and Migration: Why would you recommend joining a Hub Community?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: Are you are a clinician working at on frontline or hospital? Are you a researcher at a University Hospital or at a university? Are you a policymaker working with the government or think tank? Hey, don't you want to listen to other ideas from people from interdisciplinary backgrounds - who might come from a completely or radically different perspective? They might not necessarily come from the same training as yours, but the important thing is that a platform of interdisciplinary ideas can bring fundamentally different propositions to address an important, pressing challenge in global health. If you like this idea, this is the place for you! Specifically, the Hub Community on Global Health and Migration is a great platform for you to join, come and explore, take initiatives on our projects, contribute to these projects and be a part of a great team.
Where do you personally see further opportunities for the Hub and the Hub Community on Global Health and Migration to engage in?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: For us to engage more, we have a role to play in advocacy in terms of discussions, academic exchange, critical policy analysis and debates. The ideas from these debates will have trickle-down effects in our Hub Community, which will bring together more consensus between different stakeholders. In silos, all these stakeholders are doing extraordinary work. However, there is a difference in how they communicate with one another. That is why this platform offers a great way for them to engage in crosstalk and understand the problem from an interdisciplinary lens.
What did you gain from being involved in the Hub over the past years?
Dr Sonu Bhaskar: I've been a member of the Global Health Hub Germany for more than two years and I have made some great friends. I believe that these forums are a place for friendship and fostering new connections beyond borders. Those connections make a significant difference in developing new ideas and new collaborations. We, as a Hub Community, can play an important role in being a catalyst, bringing people, communities, and stakeholders together.
The last thing I would like to add is that Global Health will be truly global when we have a more transnational perspective. That's why I believe that we, from different countries of the world, cutting across our sectors and disciplines, need to work together, and explore how our ideas, no matter how different and how interdisciplinary they are, can all come together to solve some of the most pressing challenges in Global Health. That may include asking, or reflecting on, some tough questions in global health. That is the true spirit of what “Global Health” can bring to the table.
If you would like to join one or more of these Hub Communities and gain access to their digital Collaboration Space, please send a message to Merle Wangerin (firstname.lastname@example.org).