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“Why I Volunteer”: Dr. Joy Ho on the ASH International Members Committee

December 14, 2021

Joy Ho, MBBS (Hons), D.Phil (Oxon), FRACP, FRCPA, FFSc(RCPA) — International Members Committee 

The ASH International Members Committee (IMC) serves as a means through which leaders of hematology outside of North America can exchange ideas and provide advice to the Executive Committee on concerns about the Society’s scientific and educational programs. The committee’s Vice Chair Dr. Joy Ho connected with ASH News Daily to talk about the importance of volunteering, ASH’s impact on the global hematology community, and the power anyone can have given the desire to make a difference. 

Dr. Ho started working with ASH while serving as president of the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) when the two societies teamed up on Highlights of ASH in Asia-Pacific. She found the experience to be “extremely rewarding,” working with her ASH counterparts on programing relevant to Australia, diving into subject matter outside her own area of expertise, and, of course, connecting with individuals from around the world who share her passion for hematology. For Dr. Ho, the rewards continued to build when she was invited to join the IMC. “One of the most rewarding aspects of working for the IMC,” she began, “is the opportunity to contribute to the Visitor Training Program (VTP), which builds hematology capacity in low- and middle-income countries by providing funding for hematology-related health care professionals to receive training in an expert center.” Dr. Ho said it was fulfilling to contribute to the training of her peers around the world and to help them make a real impact in their communities. As another facet to her work with the IMC, Dr. Ho chairs the Metrics Subcommittee, working to evaluate how the Society’s international programs serve the needs of hematologists around the globe, ensuring the integrity and robustness of these programs. Lastly Dr. Ho cited the Latin American Training Program (LATP) Subcommittee, which connects hematologists in Latin American communities with the high-quality expertise and resources they need. “I believe ASH excels in advocacy in real areas of need,” she said, “and I feel privileged to be a part of a committee involved in this work. 

Dr. Ho believes that training is a core component of the IMC’s efforts, and programs such as the VTP, LATP, and the Consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa keep learning front and center. “The training programs have the stated aim to build capacity, and are undertaken with the goal of “training the trainer,” such that the benefits can be ongoing and far-reaching,” she explained. “This strategy is very different from efforts to improve the capacity of an individual, but aims to equip and strengthen that individual to bring the benefit to an institution, a community, or even a country. It is through these expansive goals that ASH maximizes the impact on hematology worldwide, not only in the upper echelons of scientific achievement, but also in fundamental hematologic patient care in disparate regions of the globe.” 

In addition to acknowledging this ripple effect that individuals can have when they get involved in ASH’s global initiatives, Dr. Ho also underscores the wealth of friendships she has made within the diverse global hematology community. “We have the opportunity to play a part in initiatives that benefit colleagues in parts of the world that we would be unlikely to encounter in our day-to-day work — communities with few resources, and for which assistance in the form of training programs can make a very big difference,” she said.  

Learn more on the ASH website. 

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