MetaECHO 2023: Reunions and a Renewed Vision

At the first MetaECHO conference since 2019, the global ECHO community joined forces to share, dream and plan.

From Sept. 18 to 21, Project ECHO hosted travelers from every corner of the world: ECHO organizers and leaders from 40 countries, including India, Australia, Canada, dozens of countries across Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam; as well as health care workers from across ECHO’s home state, New Mexico.

About 1,000 people made their way to 451 sessions with more than 600 speakers at the Albuquerque Convention Center; another 1,000 joined virtually.

Dr. M.R. Rajagopal and Dr. Kumud Rai

On left, Dr. M.R. Rajagopal from Pallium India and Dr. Kumud Rai, Chairman, ECHO India

Marking a historic step, Heini Utunen, Unit Head, Learning and Capacity Development, World Health Organization Health Emergencies Programme, announced a new partnership with ECHO at the conference, establishing the first WHO Collaborating Center for Digital Learning in Health Emergencies.

Keynotes and plenary talks generated conversation around key levers for changing our world: transformative solutions for mental health; powerful visions for gender equity; and the new wave of best practices in crisis response, and more.

“We are now four months into the war in Sudan,” shared Dr. Nada Fadul, founder of Sudan’s Community Medical Response Team ECHO, at her mainstage talk. “Because we had ECHO infrastructure already in place, we were able to rapidly shift operation, and we have delivered 30 sessions to over 20,000 providers and volunteers. We have helped over 100 clinics in camps in seven states and treated 10,000 patients displaced from their home.”

Heini Utunen

Heini Utunen, Unit Head, Learning & Capacity Development, World Health Organization Health Emergencies Programme

The conference, above all, was a chance for the ECHO community to see the power of ECHO and return to their work, inspired.

“This is my chance to see everyone and plan our next steps,” said Dr. Trina Spencer, founder of ECHO Autism in South Africa and director of Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas. “That’s the essence of ECHO – co-creating with our communities and moving knowledge to the right places.”

Dr. Furlan

Dr. Furlan, founder, Chronic Pain Management ECHO program (Ontario, Canada)

“I am here at MetaECHO after nearly 20 cycles of my ECHO program because I still have so much to learn about running ECHO programs,” explained Dr. Andrea Furlan, founder of the Chronic Pain Management ECHO program in Ontario, the very first ECHO in Canada. “ Every time I join one of my ECHO sessions, I learn more than I could ever teach. With 25 percent of adults with chronic pain, with so much work to do in every health field, ECHO is how we can reach more people than ever before.”

We hope all the conference attendees have safe journeys home. Here’s to another year of incredible work, together!

About Project ECHO

In 2023, Project ECHO is celebrating 20 years of disseminating knowledge in rural and under resourced areas. Founded and headquartered at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, N.M., Project ECHO empowers local community providers to improve the well-being of people in New Mexico and around the world.

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