The APRU Climate Change Simulation- Preparing Students to Lobby Leaders for Vital Actions
APRU recently completed its second APRU Climate Change Simulation and is now preparing for next year’s simulation, with a new advisory group soon to be appointed. Co-organized by the APRU Global Health and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Programs, the APRU Climate Change Simulation is a role-playing exercise in which students form multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams play the role of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. The 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation engaged nearly 170 students from 17 APRU Universities in addition to a student group from Fiji National University. Forty-five experts from APRU universities and external partner organizations supported the delivery of the simulations, which are tasked to show ways to limit global warming to well below 2℃ in line with The Paris Agreement. A post-event survey showed that participating students highly appreciated the amount of diverse information on climate change, interaction with people from different parts of the world and the chance to take a very close look at the problems facing each country. “This simulation exercise has brought me to look at climate change in various perspectives in terms of its causes and the possible mitigation actions that are scientifically proven,” said Pedros Marcol Tabulo, a student from Fiji National University. “I will be so happy to share with my family and friends the importance of managing forests, which involves reducing deforestation and stepping up afforestation efforts,” he added. Students have also been grateful for the input they get from the experts who contribute to the simulations. The 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation saw Ebru Gencoglu, Head of Sustainable Sourcing of Adidas, sharing insights on Adida’s efforts to lower the carbon footprint with new design and production approaches. Bernhard Barth, Human Settlements Officer of UN-Habitat, described how the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts both reveal and amplify the escalating impacts of climate change. Important expert contributions were provided by Dr. Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu), the Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and Dr. Ralph Chami, the Assistant Director, and Chief of Financial Policies at the International Monetary Fund. Their key insights focused on indigenous perspectives and how to fund the climate crisis respectively. On the facilitator side, the post-event survey showed that the participators of the 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation were impressed by how close it got to actual negotiations. Facilitators also noted that the students were very motivated despite the event being held online. “The value of this type of experience for students is magnificent, as it allows students to appreciate the values of a wide range of intellectual disciplines and a high degree of intercultural sensitivity, tolerance and a global perspective,” said Vivian Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who served as a facilitator. The 2023 APRU Climate Change Simulation will tentatively run in April 2023. The advisory group will be made up of simulation founding members Mellissa Withers of the University of Southern California and Elly Vandegrift of the University of Oregon. They will be joined by facilitators Vivian Lee, Zhenyu Zhang of Peking University and Christina Schönleber and Tina Lin of the APRU Secretariat. “We urge any interested APRU members who want to get their students engaged in this important activity to reach out to us,” Zhang said. “It is an excellent opportunity for participants to improve their communication skills, which is important when negotiating, lobbying or influencing leaders to take the actions necessary to implement solutions to climate change,” he added. More Information Find the webpage of the Student Global Climate Change Simulation 2022 here. View the program of the simulation 2022 here. Read the news in The Fiji Times about the simulation here. View a blog from UO’s student reporter here. To find out more about the APRU Climate Change Simulation 2023 and how your students can engage please contact [email protected]
October 14, 2022more
Students from Tongji School of Medicine Enrolled in the Top 10 Entries of the APRU Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022
Recently, the “Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022” hosted by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) proceeded to its final stage. Team “Arete” from Tongji University advanced to the top 10 of the competition, receiving the great honor of being the only team from China’s mainland in the final this year. Six Tongji University students, namely WANG Kaitao, MIAO Yongen, YAN Le and LIU Tong from School of Medicine (TUSM), and CHEN Yixian and PAN Kunwei from the School of Foreign Languages, made up the “Arete” team. The internationally and annually APRU-hosted Global Health Virtual Case Competition has provided APRU students with an opportunity to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills through cases and scenarios to help solve global health challenges. The challenge of the case competition 2022 was to build and strengthen the capacity of the health systems in Fiji to better respond to future public health threats, focusing on vulnerable populations. The participating teams were obliged to propose a realistic, well-designed, and innovative solution. A total of 48 teams from 12 major Pacific Rim economies participated in the case competition 2022. Three Tongji University teams (Arete, Tongji Youth Team, Small Jin), made up of twelve students from TUSM (Clinical Medicine, Nursing and Physical Therapy) and four students from other majors (SFL, CAUP, CEIE), registered for the challenging competition to compete against other teams from top leading research universities around the Pacific Rim. By the time these participating teams started to prepare for their entries, they had been confronted with various difficulties and challenges such as stringent containment measures during the worst period of the COVID outbreak in Shanghai, despite which they still managed to do a literature search, completed interview schedules with Fijian students and local transportation workers, conducted liaison meetings on a regular basis, and worked out a wrap-up of the case solution through video shooting and editing. Through uninterrupted efforts in balancing online learning and a non-stop fight against COVID, they completed their proposal on schedule. During that period, they received intensified concerns and support, including guidance from CHEN haibin, Deputy Party Chief of TUSM, who shared the first-hand experience of pandemic prevention and control on West Campus. The International Students Office of Tongji University assisted in contacting Fijian students whilst the School of Design and Innovation, along with the Sino-Italian Institute, gave support for video-making. The Association of Pacific Rim Universities, or APRU, set up in 1997, is a consortium of top leading research universities from various economies of the Pacific Rim. Currently, it has a membership of 60 top research universities around the world, among which 12 universities are from China’s mainland, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, University of Science and Technology of China, Zhejiang University, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin Institute of Technology, Sun Yat-sen University and Tongji University. Tongji University has been taking an active part in consortium activities with its commitment to promoting cultural integration and resource sharing, close-knit and deep-rooted partnerships, and further development of an inclusive and efficient platform for international collaboration. View the Chinese version here. Find out more about the Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022 here.
August 25, 2022more
APRU on The Fiji Times: FNU Students Join Global Climate Change Simulation
Original The Fiji Times Twelve students from the Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) were part of the Climate Change Simulation Conference in collaboration with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). APRU is a non-profit network of about 60 universities in the Asia-Pacific, with the Secretariat based in Hong Kong. This activity is organized by the APRU Global Health Programme at University of Southern California (US) and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program at University of Oregon (US). The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation is a role-playing exercise in which students will form multi-country, multidisciplinary teams to play the role of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. CMNHS Acting Dean, Dr Donald Wilson, said the conference allowed the students to participate and learn with the students from different countries on Climate Change. “The global engagement of our students links well with the strategic goal of the university for student experience and also creates an awareness for our students and staff of the international instruments that are critical to demonstrating the importance of staying connected to the global changes in climate,” Dr Wilson said. “We look forward to more conferences where our students can be part of and contribute towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” The aim of the conference was to describe what contributes to climate change, explain global climate change efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, the UNCCC and the COP, identify adaptation and mitigation strategies and which will have the most impact on global temperatures, explain how/why climate change affects the most vulnerable populations and why it is an issue of social justice. The conference also discussed the practice of global teamwork and cross-cultural collaboration and communication skills, the complexity involved in countries’ decisions, including consideration of factors such as economic impact, negotiating power and the challenges of negotiations among countries on issues such as climate change and the importance of global collaboration. The CMNHS Head of the School of Public Health and Primary Care (SPHPC), Dr Timaima Tuiketei said the University was grateful to be part of the conference. “We are happy to be part of a global initiative to build the capacities of our students and future leaders in addressing Climate Change. At the same time, the SPHPC is committed to strengthening its Climate Change and Health Programme to the overall university contribution to the national and regional Climate Change Agenda,” she said. Third year Public Health student, Margaret Biliki said she became more knowledgeable after attending the conference. “I am privileged to be joining my fellow colleagues for the APRU Simulation on Climate Change this year as an FNU rep, as Climate change is a global issue affecting our environment and our health,” she said. “I am enthusiastic to be learning from a group of diverse disciplines and experts from across the globe in interactive and informative zoom sessions and discussions on causes, effects, and solutions to address climate change issues. “The event will also help me to learn negotiation skills and to enhance my knowledge on climate change issues, a critically important issue for us, as Pacific Islanders. I am looking forward to learning and interacting with students from other universities as well.” The conference had Guest Speakers who spoke on coastal habitats, deforestation, clean energy, trading and offsets, and diplomacy and negotiation skills. Find out more about the Student Climate Change Simulation here.
June 16, 2022more
APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month Opens New Doors for Early Career Researchers
The APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month which concluded in mid-June confirmed that climate change is too big a problem for nations to be addressed alone, instead requiring partnership across regions, disciplines, and stakeholders with a view towards long term collaborative efforts. Developed and implemented by Kyushu University, the action month events sessions targeted specifically early career researchers (ECRs) from various disciplines as a first step to support ECRs in expanding their professional networks across disciplines, research institutions, and borders. The APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month also served as a pilot for a longer-term program that will focus on interdisciplinary ECR collaboration, including skill set training, collaboration methods, and joint grant applications. Research related to zero carbon technology and societal change is a focus area for Kyushu University, as is the aim to actively contribute to advancing climate change mitigation and adaptation. “Providing global collaboration opportunities for early-career researchers through attractive APRU programs is critical for promoting a carbon-neutral society and climate action,” said Toshiyuki Kono, Distinguished Professor and Executive Vice President of Kyushu University & Honorary President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), in a webinar series that was part of the APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month. “I believe that these events will encourage the exchange of ideas, lead to discussions of potential cross-disciplinary approaches, and support the collaborative development of solutions,” he added. Similarly, Hao Zhang, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, labeled the webinar series as “eye-opening”, because participants were focusing on different specific areas under their single working banner of carbon neutrality. Zhang pointed out that the second major take away for all participants is about linking theoretical research to the actual issues, which, he said, is highly relevant, given that much of the research is theoretical. “The third major take away is that technologies are a core issue that we have to understand from a range of different perspectives as well,” Zhang said. “Sometimes new technologies generate a lot of radical issues, and regulations and laws have then to catch up, even though we don’t really have much time left to tackle climate change,” he added. According to Ru Guo, Professor, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tongji University, the integration of technology and policy innovation is crucial, especially for the local governments in developing countries, whose recent priority is not achieving carbon neutrality, but rather stimulating economic growth. “Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy has been in crisis, and many people are struggling for survival,” Guo said. “We need action on the local level, as local governors need to strike the difficult balance between social welfare, economic growth, and carbon targets,” she added. Adrian Kuah, Director, Futures Office, National University of Singapore, held a presentation under the theme How to Educate in a Planetary Crisis. Kuah explained that universities are already deeply involved in social innovation, either directly due to active research or indirectly through their graduates. “In this era of climate crisis, we are seeing universities being part of the solutions, but I’d like to ask whether universities are also part of the problem,” Kuah said. “We tend to talk about the future of ‘the university’ in abstract ways. This is interesting but can be unhelpful. We have to re-imagine universities given our current and particular context, because after pandemic and war, we do not know what is going to come next,” he added. Patchanita Thamyongkit, Professor at Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Assistant to the President for R&I, Chulalongkorn University, pointed out that scientists keep developing new technologies, leaving her wonder why some of it will never be used. Thamyongkit illustrated that in terms of climate change mitigation, the big challenge now is not only to invent ways to de-carbonize, but also to make society adopt to the new idea of electrifying a very wide range of processes and devices. “Many countries, including my native Thailand, need a lot of new infrastructure, with society actually being the biggest infrastructure we have,” Thamyongkit said. “If we help people see what the opportunities are, we pave the way to giving the people the idea of using new energy,” she added. Shigenori Fujikawa, Professor, International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, Kyushu University, explained that he is a technology-focused scientist, and as technology-focused scientists tend to focus on forecasts, methodologies and mechanisms, it is usually difficult for him to communicate with totally different research areas. “However, climate change is a topic that urgently requires interdisciplinary research, involving many different viewpoints from economics and social aspects,” Fujikawa said. “The APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month is providing ECRs and students with a good chance of widening their own viewpoints,” he added. More information Find out the details of the APRU Carbon Neutral Society Action Month here. Read a news article published by Kyushu University here Contact Christina Schönleber for further inquiries (Email: policyprograms [at] apru.org)
June 9, 2022more
APRU Supports Collaborations with UNFCCC University Partnership Programme, Actively Develops Member Information Sessions
The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) has supported the development of two successful information sessions to promote the UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme and explore the possibility of developing further engagement sessions with its members. The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme, launched at the United Nations Climate Dialogues 2020 to strengthen collaboration between the UNFCCC and research institutions, aims to address knowledge gaps that remain a critical barrier to countries implementing climate change adaptation measures. The two APRU information sessions were hosted by the University of Auckland and UNSW Sydney. Attending academics represented a wide range of research areas, including Environmental Law, Science, Maori Studies, Climate, Urban Planning and Architecture. “The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme offers students the unique opportunity to partner with local and regional organizations to conduct a capstone or Master’s project that will fill identified knowledge gaps in the region on key sustainability issues,” said Professor Leanne Piggott, Director of Experience, in the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Education and Student Experience Portfolio at UNSW. “Not only will this enhance the scientific and professional capacity of students, but the projects will also provide tangible outputs addressing needs of local and regional partners,” she added. All attendees expressed their keenness to be kept in the loop and involved in discussions going forward. “The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme allows universities/ research institutions to develop strong collaboration with UNFCCC, local and regional organizations, and to gain a better understanding of research needs. This new knowledge will further inform and ultimately support future research to address regional climate change adaptation needs’ emphazised Deborah McAllister, Interim Deputy Director, International Partnerships & Services at the University of Auckland the multifaceted benefits of such a collaboration. University partners are welcome to share proposal ideas with the UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme. These will be reviewed by the UNFCCC team with the aim to co-develop the project proposal, including definition of target users, and identification of expert organizations to involve in the defining of expected outputs. The UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme focuses on: Closing knowledge gaps under the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI) Addressing the gaps and needs relating to the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans (NAPs); UNFCCC thematic work areas, including biodiversity, ecosystems and water resources, human settlements, oceans, health, private sector initiative, gender sensitive approaches, local indigenous and traditional knowledge. Find out more information about the UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme here.
April 29, 2022more
APEC Healthy Women Healthy Economy Prize Accepting Applications 2022
The annual APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize is now accepting applications for outstanding research work that strives to improve women’s health and economic well-being, and charts the way for more inclusive growth. The winning entry will receive USD 20,000 and the two runners-up will receive USD 5,000 each. The prize, first launched during APEC 2019 in Chile with the support of Merck, aims to encourage the development and usage of sex-disaggregated data and promote gender-based research within APEC. As women across the world were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who serve as unpaid caregivers, more research is needed to support solutions and advancements that allow women to stay in the workforce as the world rebounds. “We know that women in the region are overrepresented in industries hit hard by the pandemic—food, services, hospitality and tourism, to name a few,” said Renee Graham, the Chair of APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “While our focus is to narrow disparity and improve women’s economic participation, we must also ensure that we pay attention to women’s health, safety and well-being.” Thailand, host economy of APEC 2022, is prioritizing inequality and imbalance this year by integrating inclusivity and sustainability objectives in tandem with economic goals. “To ensure an inclusive recovery from COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted women and girls, we must implement evidence-based, gender-sensitive policies,” said Kannika Charoenluk of Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. “Original research, backed by data and evidence, will be crucial in ensuring a gender-intentional recovery and future growth model.” Since its inception in 2015, the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative has improved women’s health through public-private partnerships. One key outcome has been the cross-sector collaboration in creating a policy toolkit—a compendium of the issues, actions, and implementing elements for improving women’s health across five areas. The areas are: workplace health and safety; health awareness and access; sexual and reproductive health; gender-based violence; and work-life balance. Applicants to the 2022 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize can be individuals or teams, with the stipulation that one official participant must represent an APEC member economy. Applicants do not need to come from academia, as long as the research is evidence-based and addresses at least one of the pillars outlined in the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit. The prize winner may choose to present their research to APEC gender experts in the public and private sectors on the margins of the 2022 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, hosted by Thailand. “Now more than ever, we need to promote research that supports our collective effort in alleviating the economic burdens women face in the workforce,” said Hong Chow, Executive Vice President and Head of China and International of Merck Healthcare. “By using science, we can provide evidence-based information to policymakers and business leaders so that the right measures get implemented to improve women’s health so women can join and rise in the workforce,” she concluded. Interested candidates may access the prize application form through this link. The application deadline is Tuesday, 31 May 2022. For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website or contact [email protected] with any questions. For further details, please contact: Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected] Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 [email protected]
March 17, 2022more
APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation Tackling Climate Change Head-On
In time for the upcoming COP26 meetings, 120 dedicated APRU students from across the Asia Pacific region and close on 40 expert speakers and facilitators from within and outside the APRU network contributed to and concluded the first APRU Climate Change Simulation. The 3-session is a role-playing exercise in which students formed multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams to slip intothe roles of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation uses materials from Climate Interactive and the EN-ROADS simulation model developed by MIT. Live sessions and breakout room-discussions were supplemented with keynote presentations by experts from the IMF, adidas, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, short lectures from key experts across the network and other materials developed and curated by the APRU expert team. On the long list of intriguing topics were indigenous knowledge, planetary health, public health, coastal habitats, deforestation, clean energy, trading and offsets, as well as diplomacy and negotiation skills. APRU envisions the event to be the first of many activities to develop a network of committed citizens who tackle climate change head-on. “The opportunity to work across different disciplines, places and perspectives as part of this negotiation simulation wasa rare chance for students to learn about the complexities of developing solutions to urgent global challenges, the largest of which is climate change,” said Kathryn Bowen, Deputy Director of Melbourne Climate Future, University of Melbourne. Kristie Ebi, Professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, University of Washington, also one of the sixteen participating APRU experts actively facilitating the negotiations and discussions, added that “the APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation represented a call to taking collective action against global warming.” The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation was co-organized by the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program housed at the University of Oregon and the APRU Global Health Program housed at the University of Southern California. External partners include Adidas, Rebalance Earth, Smart Energy Connect-CLP, Tuvalu Mo Te Atua, UN Habitat and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The participating students gave their thumbs up. For instance, Annette Benger, who studies Masters of Environment at Melbourne University, shared that the event has taken her understanding to the next level. “In my lectures on Sustainability and Behaviour Change, we are discussing the role of selfishness and altruism in human nature,” Benger said. “It is so easy to see so much selfishness, until you come across something like this, and we are all planning to keep in touch in our WhatsApp group,” she added. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation also impressed its facilitators, with Tze Kwan, Research Associate, Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, National University of Singapore, labelling the event “super”successful. “I am honoured to be part of this and to have had the opportunity to share my interests with the participants,” Kwan said. “This event was such a valuable learning opportunity, making me hope more students will get to attend and be inspired to act in face of climate change,” she added. The APRU Partner Universities involved in the Student Global Climate Change Simulation are Monash University, Nanyang Technological University, Peking University, Tecnológico de Monterrey, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, The University of Auckland, The University of Melbourne, Tohoku University, Universidad San Francisco De Quito, Universiti Malaya, and University of Washington. Find out a featured article from University of Southern California, here. Find out a post-activity report from University of Oregon here. Read students’ feedback from a CUHK article here.
September 16, 2021more
APRU Virtual Webinar Series Helps Mastering Remote Teaching Challenges
A 12-session virtual workshop series developed jointly by the APRU Global Health Program’s Global Health Education and Technology Working Group at the University of Southern California and the Global STEM Education Program at the University of Oregon has grown into an effective platform providing important support for higher education staff, cushioning the impact of COVID-19. The creation of a peer-to-peer learning platform to exchange ways and knowledge on teaching in virtual environments became a pressing issue, as the pandemic forced the academic community to move fully to online teaching. Launched in August 2020 and scheduled to run until June 2021, the APRU Teaching in Virtual Environments Webinar Series addresses everyday educational problems, such as how do adjust safeguards for course exams. Underlining the series’ significance, it will be highlighted as a case study in a publication expected to be published later this year by the Spring Nature. “We designed these sessions to respond to the immediate need of providing remote teaching resources to faculty within the APRU network, and they have surpassed all of my expectations with a truly global faculty community,” said Elly Vandegrift, program director for Global Science Education Initiatives in the Division of Global Engagement at the University of Oregon. “Our work together strengthens and builds resiliency within our global higher education community to respond to future educational challenges,” Vandegrift adds. The APRU webinar series, moderated and led by Prof Vandegrift are conducted in 90-minute sessions and structured around specific faculty experts sharing their evidence-based practices that they adopted to online teaching. In the webinars’ breakout rooms, participants from different regions with different technology infrastructure share how they overcome the respective challenges. In conclusion the webinars return to a full group discussion to share insights learned and best practices shared across the diverse group. “We have collectively learned how many similar challenges students and faculty have faced during the pandemic and together explored ways to adapt global solutions to our local teaching and learning contexts,” highlights Mellissa Withers, program director APRU Global Health Program at the University of Southern California. The webinars support and complement other APRU Global Health Program events. The seven sessions that have been held so far involved participants from 92 institutes representing 19 economies. For upcoming webinars in this series visit https://apru.org/our-work/pacific-rim-challenges/global-health/
April 7, 2021more
Winners of the 2021 APEC Healthy Women Research Prize
Issued by the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy Announced during the APEC Women and the Economy Forum on September 24, 2021, the winner and two runners-up for the 2021 APEC Healthy Women Healthy Economies Research Prize are listed here. The winning team is co-authored by Mr. Chen-Wei Hsiang, PhD student at University College London; Dr. Ming-Jen Lin, Distinguished Professor of Economics at National Taiwan University; Dr. Kuan-Ming Chen, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research. Runner-up: Dr. Ying Yang, Associate Professor at China’s National Institute for Family Planning Runner-up: Ms. Nurliyana Binte Daros, Lecturer at Nanyang Technological University Find out the news release here and more information about the prize below. Applications are now open for the 2021 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize. The prize rewards researchers who spur the creation of sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research in APEC. Launched in 2018 by President Sebastián Piñera of Chile with the support of Merck, the research prize seek for outstanding research work that will provide policymakers and business leaders with the tools they need to implement measures that improve women’s health and well-being so women can join, rise and thrive in the workforce. “Robust data and evidence are the foundation of sound policymaking,” said Renee Graham, New Zealand’s Secretary for Women and Chair of APEC’s Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “The gendered impacts of COVID-19 make the call for data and evidence all the more important, as we look to ensure women are fully incorporated into, and benefit from, the economic recovery from the pandemic.” Last year, the inaugural research prize was awarded to Dr Fanghui Zhao, a director at the National Cancer Center and Cancer Hospital with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, whose winning research looks at ways to make cervical cancer prevention more accessible and affordable for people in lower-middle income economies. Dr Lih Rong Wang of Chinese Taipei and Dr Dorothy Chan of Hong Kong, China were the two runners-up for the 2020 prize. Applicants to the 2021 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize can be individuals or teams with one leader listed as official participant from an APEC member economy. Applications for the 2021 research prize are due on 31 May 2020. Applicants do not need to come from academia, as long as the research is evidence-based and addresses at least one of the pillars outlined in the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit, such as: workplace health and safety health awareness and access sexual and reproductive health gender-based violence work/life balance The prize winner will receive USD 20,000 and have the opportunity to present the research to APEC gender experts in the public and private sectors on the margins of the 2021 Women and the Economy Forum, hosted by New Zealand. Two runners-up will receive USD 5,000 each. “COVID-19 has exacerbated gender inequalities across a range of women’s health issues, making sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research essential for today’s policymakers,” said Liz Henderson,Regional Vice President, Merck Biopharma Asia Pacific. “To truly unlock the economic potential of women, we must first empower women by promoting policies that improve their health outcomes.” “It is important to make available sex-segregated data, especially in the services sector where women’s participation is high and which have been affected by the pandemic,” explained Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “Good sex-segregated data will contribute to the development of policies that are effective, equitable and beneficial.” Since established in 2015 the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative aims to identify and implement policies that advance women’s health and well-being to support their economic participation. To submit your application form, click here. The deadline to submit applications is 31 May 2020. For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website or contact [email protected] with any questions. For further details, please contact: Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected] Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]
March 3, 2021more
APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Dialogue
The Asia-Pacific region lags behind other global regions with respect to women’s health and economic participation. Sustainable economic growth cannot be achieved if women, who consist half of the workforce, are unable to fully participate in the economy due to health implications. Since 2014, APEC’s Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) initiative convenes government (health, labor, gender officials), private sector, academia and other interested stakeholders to raise awareness and promote good practices to enhance women’s economic participation by improving women’s health. A virtual APEC HWHE Policy Dialogue will be held on March 2, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. (EST) / March 3, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. (SGT). A number of high-level speakers from across government, academia, and the private sector will be participating as speakers in the event. The objective of this policy dialogue is to share how public and private stakeholders across the APEC region can ensure women are not left behind, especially given the impact of COVID-19, as well as to identify and discuss the long-term societal risks if we do not build back better. We hope this policy dialogue will help stakeholders – especially those who might not ordinarily consider gender in their line of work – understand why it is vital to construct a COVID-19 recovery effort that takes into consideration the unique ways women have been impacted by the pandemic. Register now to join the policy dialogue on March 2nd/ 3rd.
February 19, 2021more
14th APRU Global Health Conference 2020 records massive virtual reach
APRU held its annual 2020 Global Health Conference October 19-21, expanding the APRU Global Health Program’s knowledge-sharing and member-engagement through the network. The 14th APRU Global Health Conference was the first APRU program conference conducted virtually, and it also was the APRU conference with the widest reach, attracting nearly 1,500 contributors and participants from 39 APRU member universities and over 300 external partners across 53 economies. In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, the conference this year focused on the theme Universal Healthcare across the Life Course. The two keynote speeches were held by Dr Margaret Chan, Inaugural Dean of Tsinghua University’s Vanke School of Public Health and Emeritus Director General of WHO, and Alejandro Gaviria, President of Universidad de los Andes and former Minister of Health and Social Protection, Colombia. “When the WHO was founded in 1947, new diseases were rare, as people travelled internationally by ship and news travelled by telegram, but since then profound changes have occurred in the way humanity inhabits the planet,” Chan said. “Today, very few health threats are local, and climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, intensive farming practices, environmental degradation, and misuse of anti-microbios are challenges that have disrupted the micro-bio world, leading to a dramatic increase of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases around the world,” she added. The third prominent speaker was Dr Ren Minghui, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage/ Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases. A panel on migration (focusing on immigration in Ecuador, wellbeing of the migrant care workers in Taiwan, and personal story sharing on human trafficking in Philippines) and women (focusing on women’s voices maternity care in the SDG era, case studies in Malawi and China, and infertility in the Asian community) also garnered much attention. The conference prominently displayed new member participation, as reflected by the Universidad de los Andes’ President Gaviria in his keynote speech endorsing further collaboration with APRU’s Global Health Program, and University of Queensland Professor Gita Mishra and Universidad San Francisco de Quito Professor Maria Amelia Viteri serving as the moderator of the life course plenary and speaker in the migration panel respectively. The other speakers on plenaries were Zhijie Zheng, University Endowed Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, Peking University, Wen Chen, Director, Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research and Evaluation, Fudan University, Fan Wu, Deputy Dean of Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, and Michael Lu Dean of School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Whereas in APRU’s previous global health conferences a physical polling facilitated the picking of the best video of the Global Health Student Case competition, this year an international judging panel chose seven posters (in graduate and undergraduate categories) and three videos as finalists. The panel then invited all students and faculty to log in the online conference and voted for their favorite works. The winning students have received a prize of USD 500. APRU is delighted to note that the virtual conference was able to reach to a wider range of participants. “One of the key benefits of using a virtual platform is helping to reduce disparities in access to information and best practice sharing for people in middle-income countries who would likely not be able to attend international conferences in person, “said Christopher Tremewan, APRU Secretary General.
November 27, 2020more
APRU Global Health experts co-publish insights on global health ethics in the time of COVID-19
APRU Global Health Working Groups provide a platform for experts and scholars to develop joint-research and share lessons-learnt. During a webinar held in May 2020, experts brought together by the Global Health Bioethics Working Group examined ethical challenges in both research and clinical care associated with COVID-19. The inter-disciplinary and international nature of the event offered participating scholars the unique opportunity to analyze these challenges from diverse perspectives and publish the findings in the Journal of Global Health Science. View the paper here. Find out details about the authors and the webinar here.
September 16, 2020more
Winners of the Global Health Student Activities 2020 Announced
The APRU Global Health Poster Contest 2020 just released seven finalists from total 49 submissions across 15 economies and 26 universities . A prize of USD 500 will be awarded to the winners. The winning team of the undergraduate poster is from University of Santo Thomas. The winner of the graduate poster is from Fudan University. See the posters from the seven finalists here. Finalists Undergraduate (in an alphabetical order) University of Malawi Zaithwa Matemvu Apatsa Villiera Steve Chilmenji University of Santo Thomas (winner) Mary Kristine Pinpin Chelsea Pineda Krisalene Plazuela Biana Pollo Clare Quimson Gian Carlo Torres University of Oregon Tyra Judge Graduate (in an alphabetical order) BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences Bikram Adhikari Fudan University (winner) Zhixi Liu Universitas Indonesia Bonardo Prayogo Hasiholan University of Tokyo Maya Fujimura View all the submissions here. The APRU Global Health Student Case Competition 2020 challenges young talents to develop and test a new intervention that could help improve the health system of elderly care in the Asia-Pacific. The competition seeks for teams creating cost-effective and culturally-appropriate strategies that are realistic and also creative. In this challenging time, the competition brought together 45 teams from 22 universities in 12 economies (Australia, China, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and the US) to register and develop creative and evidence-based proposals to address the complex issue of elderly care. The videos of three finalist teams are (in an alphabetical order): MoreDoe from Yonsei University The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia Toilet Paper Hoggers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong The three runner-up teams were PH Pro (Fudan University), Team Medeavour (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Terps for Health (University of Maryland, College Park). The winning team is The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia. Total fifteen international judges were invited to review the entries. A prize of USD 500 will be awarded. Watch the finalist videos below. MoreDoe from Yonsei University The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia Toilet Paper Hoggers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong
August 17, 2020more
Disaster preparedness would improve HE pandemic response
Original post in University World News Universities can better prepare themselves for future pandemics and become more resilient with a planning approach that encompasses other natural disasters, says Hideo Ohno, president of Japan’s Tohoku University in Sendai, which was badly affected by the 2011 East Japan Earthquake. Many Pacific Rim universities that were best prepared for campus closures at very short notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic already had emergency disaster response procedures in place. These included university plans in the event of bushfires in Australia and California in the United States just before the pandemic and partly overlapping it; typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan; and previous epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS in East Asia and MERS in South Korea. “Universities need to take a multi-hazard approach in their planning” to prepare for natural disasters and other hazards like the pandemic, Ohno told University World News. Sendai, where Tohoku University is situated, suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in which 20,000 people lost their lives, compared to 982 deaths from COVID-19 to date. Fumihiko Imamura, professor of tsunami engineering and director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), established at Tohoku University a year after the 2011 earthquake, devised a number of principles derived from disaster science for universities and societies to respond to such events. Ohno cites these, among them “that disasters have evolved together with our lifestyle, which was very true in the pandemic situation as well”. In the case of tsunamis, people are reluctant to move away from the coast, he notes. “Second, humans cannot do more than prepare. The third point is that crisis management and response planning should be based on the worst scenario, which is also true in the current case.” “Another point is that it is necessary to judge a response under uncertain conditions. So we do not have full information why we are in the pandemic and the disaster response.” “The final point is that to create new lifestyles is important. We call it ‘build back better’,” said Ohno. “These are the lessons that we learn from earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, heavy rain and landslides. But these principles are surprisingly apt for the COVID-19 situation and to counter future pandemics. “We had many unknowns [with COVID-19] but the only thing that we know is that we have to be prepared for [another] highly toxic influenza virus pandemic in the future,” Ohno emphasised. Emergency team Tohoku University’s own in-house emergency advisory team for COVID-19 was first set up as an informal group providing advice from late January and then regular input in the university administration’s emergency planning. The team included Hitoshi Oshitani, professor of virology at Tohoku’s Graduate School of Medicine who was also on the Japanese government’s expert advisory team on the pandemic, which was providing advice from late February. “We were very fortunate that this expertise that we tapped over that time overlapped partly with the national response team,” Ohno noted. “We locked down the entire university in April so there was plenty of lead time,” he says. During this time, the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama Bay turned out to be an important ‘laboratory’. In February the cruise ship was declared by the World Health Organization to have more than half the known cases of COVID-19 outside China at that time. Some 700 COVID-19 cases were on the ship which had 3,710 passengers, as well as crew. “The country and specialists learned quite a lot from this,” said Ohno, particularly about transmission. The experts “informed us very early, late March or early April, that 80% of people who contracted coronavirus do not transmit coronavirus to others. The 20% is important and they tend to be young and active and most likely asymptomatic,” Ohno said. “So we asked our students not to travel back to their homes.” He said the level of seriousness went up in March “when we had the first case within our student body and we didn’t want to spread it to other students and other city residents and the community”. This was in contrast with universities in many other countries which sent most students home when they began to lock down campuses. University preparedness Lessons for higher education was one of the topics at a 17 June webinar organised by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) multi-hazards programme hosted by Tohoku University’s IRIDeS. Takako Izumi, associate professor at IRIDeS and programme director for the APRU-Tohoku multi-hazard programme, said lack of preparedness by higher education institutions was clear from a recent survey conducted by Tohoku. Of 150 responses from 65 Pacific Rim universities in 29 countries, two-thirds of them in Asia, “almost 50% of the universities are not ready” for such emergencies, “especially for a pandemic”, Izumi said. According to the survey, 53% of Pacific Rim higher education institutions had an emergency management office. But 47% lacked a permanent or dedicated emergency management office, Izumi said. Some 41% of institutions lacked a general business continuity plan to prepare for an emergency. Even for institutions that had such plans, “33% of the plans do not cover biological hazards in pandemic risk management. Sixty per cent of the business continuity plans did not include conducting simulation exercises in advance based on the plans,” which meant the effectiveness of such plans could not be assessed, Izumi said. From the survey carried out in April, when many of the universities had shut down, the top two issues in preparing for emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic cited by respondents were “lack of organisational preparedness for a pandemic” and “lack of pandemic-specific advance simulation exercises”, she said. The shift from classroom learning to online learning and internet access, an issue highlighted by many university leaders around the world in recent months, was only the third most important concern, according to the survey results. “Governance issues are more strongly addressed than educational issues as key challenges. That implies that people in higher education institutions understand and already realise the importance of preparedness,” Izumi said. Adapting emergency plans to COVID-19 Tan Eng Chye, president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), told University World News: “In 2003, SARS hit us quite badly. Since that time we have had a business continuity plan. Part of that plan is to look at possible scenarios. A pandemic is one of them.” Others include building collapse, a major fire or terrorist attack. “For each scenario we have a rough plan,” he explained. But every crisis is different. NUS experts in public health and infectious disease “kept reminding us that COVID-19 is not SARS. That advice has been very useful because it helps us to recalibrate our plan which was based on SARS,” Tan said. “COVID-19 changes very quickly. So as things were developing, our colleagues were very quick to learn what was happening in China and apply it.” Cynthia Larive, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz in the United States, noted: “We had an emergency management structure in place and that was very useful.” It includes an operations centre for the university and how to manage communications, including coordination with the city and county. “We do tabletop exercises to practise,” Larive told University World News. Even so, planning for COVID-19 was challenging. “With an earthquake or fire you get through it very rapidly. You do an assessment, then plan for how your recovery can begin. But this pandemic is a different kind of situation. We are in it for a much longer period. In some ways it is less devastating, but it is hard to anticipate all the impacts and understand when it will end.” Larive says the university’s planning included five phases, depending on changing threat levels during the pandemic, and involving different actions for each phase so the campus could move back to a higher alert level with a second COVID-19 phase, for example. Including the community Tohoku’s Ohno stressed that the wider community is as important as campus-based emergency planning. The “2011 [earthquake] impacted us, our local community and our minds as well. Our focus was sharper after 2011. We knew we had to work with society in order to solve social issues and we have to collaborate within the university; we can’t just have independent silos. And the pandemic has absolutely reinforced that,” Ohno said. “For example, from the outset we knew that we had to take swift action to support students during the pandemic. We were one of the earliest in the country in establishing student support – financial support as well as a peer support system among students. “We had to ask students not to engage in jobs like waitressing at restaurants and things like that because we were afraid it might spread the virus on campus. So we got together initial financial support of approximately US$4 million for students.” Disaster recovery on campus and in research work has to involve the community, to better prepare for future disasters and increase campus resilience. “Almost 20,000 people lost their lives during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – 90% of people drowned. So there was this feeling of how can we as a university help society and how can we help the local community and this naturally evolved into projects and programmes,” Ohno explains, pointing out that it took three to four years for the university to recover fully, as some university buildings had to be rebuilt, though lectures were able to resume within half a year. “More than a hundred small projects spontaneously emerged from our university after 2011,” Ohno said. The projects ranged from support for disaster-affected children, mental healthcare for disaster-affected people, radiation monitoring in Fukushima around the nuclear power plant damaged by the earthquake, research into ecological and marine impacts of the Fukushima radiation leakage, rescue activities for affected museums, agricultural reconstruction projects, archaeological surveys for the resettlement of tsunami victims, rescue robot technology and disaster-resistant medical instruments, among many others. “Later in 2015 we launched 30 programmes addressing broader societal issues, not just recovering from the earthquake.” This coincided with planning for the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and also the Paris Agreement on climate change – “2015 was when these three international agendas were set,” he pointed out. “The university’s role is to come up with a more generic holistic picture and that is a big, big challenge because we have a collection of specialists but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can formulate a holistic view. That’s not just a challenge for our university but for the whole higher education system.” Just as it acted swiftly to set up IRIDeS for interdisciplinary and expert disaster research a year after the 2011 quake, the university is planning a new interdisciplinary pandemic research centre. Ohno said that when he recently asked the university’s 3,000 faculty members how they would use their expertise to counter the COVID-19 situation, he received some 200 proposals. The next stage is to secure the research funding for the new centre. “The centre will have two focuses, one will be interdisciplinary, broad, social, cultural response and understanding the history [of pandemics] to see the sort of societal response we can have. The other pillar is looking at what people are doing elsewhere as well using our expertise to directly counter the coronavirus pandemic,” Ohno said. The centre will be important for collaboration across disciplines within the university and internationally, and with the community. “We need to consolidate [research] efforts so that we can counter what’s happening in this corona world and the ‘new normal’. That includes medical and direct research on the virus itself. But we also have to come up with a social structure that is more resilient to new pandemics if they come.”
July 18, 2020more
USC-based Global Health Program highlights interdisciplinary collaboration in the time of coronavirus
By Laura Lambert The program, part of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, is rooted in collaboration, communication and education. originally published in USC News In the shadow of the United States leaving the World Health Organization, and amid rising international tensions, the work of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Global Health Program, which is housed at USC, is a welcome meeting of the minds, rooted in collaboration and communication, education, rather than politics, sharing, rather than blame. Associate Professor Mellissa Withers of the Keck School of Medicine of USC has been the director of the APRU Global Health Program since 2013. And when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Withers realized it was the perfect time for the conversations at the heart of her program to reach a wider audience. “As this was all starting, I thought, we’re in global health — this is us,” says Withers. “To be able to disseminate the work of the network is impactful.” The pandemic as the great equalizer In May, the APRU Global Health Program hosted a webinar, bringing together five of the leading minds within the network – from Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico and Ecuador – to grapple with the most pressing questions in bioethics, from how best to distribute scarce resources to the role that outdated notions of aging play in managing COVID-19. More than 1,000 members from across the Americas, Asia and Australasia signed up – far more than 350 or so members who typically take part in the group’s annual conference. The influx of new participants made a real impression on Christopher Tremewan, PhD, the APRU Secretary General, based in Hong Kong. “This first APRU Global Health webinar also highlighted a key benefit of virtual platforms in helping to reduce disparities in access to information and training for people in middle-income countries who would likely not be able to attend international conferences in person,” he said. Withers agrees, saying, “There is an interest and need.” There was a need, too, to make the webinars more than just a one-way conversation. “We allowed time for questions, versus just listening to somebody, not being able to interact,” says Withers. “We intentionally did that.” After the webinar, members in Singapore and the Philippines sent in additional guidelines for health care workers, further disseminating information in a way that reflects the collaborative nature of the APRU network. “It’s not just an opportunity to talk about bioethics,” says Withers. The webinars provide a way to practice the kind of cross-cultural work that is at the cornerstone of global health. Promoting international conversations in an increasingly global world Connecting across borders and time zones requires certain cross-cultural competencies, not to mention technical logistics – and the APRU Global Health Program webinar was not the first time members have been able to hone such skills. Since 2015, APRU Global Health has also hosted for-credit graduate-level distance education courses on the topics of leadership and ethics, where students and faculty from at least three research universities from across the Pacific Rim come together to investigate and discuss of-the-moment topics from a variety of cultural vantage points. Says Withers, “It’s building the skills they will need in the future.” For USC students who have taken part, the courses have been transformative. Louis Litsas, a lab manager in Toronto who earned his MPH from USC in May, credits the Global Health Leadership course with developing his cultural sensitivity and listening skills. “It was an evolution of my global eyes,” he says. “The COVID experience has shown me that the global perspective is what my vision has to be in the future. It can’t be local anymore.” For Bethany Deford, who took the APRU Global Health Ethics in Research and Practice course in the fall as an elective for her MPH program, the cross-cultural conversations made a huge difference when, after graduation, she returned to work as a traveling nurse in the midst of the pandemic. Ethics were always at the forefront in the ICU, Deford explains, especially as traditional hospital practices were up-ended in the midst of the health care disaster. “It was a lot of preserving dignity and patients’ rights,” she says, of the work she strove to do. And for Diana Dimapindan, who also took the ethics course, the interdisciplinary nature of the course was key. “I’m a policy student,” she explains. “There were lawyers in the class, physicians in the class, and soon-to-be public health policy makers. I think that broad range of students perspectives is what made it so meaningful. And it’s amazing, logistically, that it even works, having all those countries dialing in.” The conversation continues Bioethics was just the first of APRU Global Health Program’s coronavirus-related webinars. In June, a series of eight additional webinars, co-hosted by the APRU Global Health Program and USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, kicked off, grappling with on COVID-19 and how it intersects with, for instance, mental health, environmental health or human rights. “We can look at COVID-19 from many different aspects,” says Withers. “We need engineers, anthropologists, lawyers, psychologists. It’s not just medicine and public health professionals.” The goal of the conversation, then, is to be both international and interdisciplinary – and now, more than ever, students, researchers and faculty around the Pacific Rim are primed for this kind of conversation. “Luckily, people who weren’t paying attention to global health before are interested in what we’ve been talking about,” says Withers. “There’s a general shift in sentiment — and a new appreciation for the importance of the work we do.”
June 25, 2020more
Human Development Forum Publishes A Better World Vol. 6 with APRU Contribution
Read the book now >> For your interest the APRU report starts here>> APRU is pleased to note that the Human Development Forum, an educational and research organization founded on close collaboration with UN agencies, UN member states, and civil sector organizations, has published the digital edition of A Better World Vol. 6. A Better World is a series of publications that dedicates each volume to one of the 17 SDGs. The new volume covers Goal 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. APRU’s contribution draws on the Pacific Ocean Program, featuring economy-specific analysis conducted by a team of experts from the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington on the ways that all SDG goals contribute or detract from SDG 14 throughout the Pacific. APRU recommends policymaking that analyzes the contribution that each individual SDG makes to others, as this could help prioritize SDG achievements while minimizing the chances of unrealistic expectations and avoidable side-effects. Indeed, APRU research illustrates the complexity of SDG achievements, including by demonstrating that eliminating poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 and 2) may delay the achievement of SDG 14 in the Pacific. “By focusing on the experience and livelihoods of people, especially those in vulnerable human habitats, the book shows the benefits of best policy and practices, and how these may develop further as we come to terms with a changing and more turbulent world,” said Sean Nicklin, the Human Development Forum’s General Coordinator. “This innovative endeavor is a striking example of sharing respective resources to engage the many official governmental, international organizations, institutions, and professional interests in displaying the extent and variety of their efforts to make the world a better place,” he added. A Better World Vol. 6’s key subjects are coral reefs; implementation of international law; mangroves; marine and coastal ecosystem management; marine pollution; scientific knowledge; sustainable blue economy; and sustainable fisheries. It contains fascinating contributions from researchers and organizations across the world. A number of the supporting agencies and institutions have asked to incorporate the book in their social media campaigns, including the contributing UN agencies. The Human Development Forum plans to publish the print volume in June 2020.
June 15, 2020more
Collaboration, technology and global health policy
By By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications, UCLA A group of Bruins minoring in the global health met during the APRU Global Health Student Case Competition. They are now planning careers in the field. The APRU Global Health Student Case Competition gives students an opportunity to practice critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to help solve global health challenges. The competition has brought together young and creative teams of university students to tackle many pressing global health problems with out-of-the-box ideas in helping to facilitate real changes in society. Originally published by UCLA International Institute. UCLA International Institute, April 9, 2020 — UCLA students today have an enviable capacity to use multiple communication methods simultaneously when collaborating on a project. It is a skill that will serve them well in the coming months, as all UCLA courses continue remotely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.The “Gamechangers Team,” a group of global health minors who designed a social media–based health intervention and produced a video about it, have a unique view on the value of communications technology in global health. Over the course of roughly six weeks in spring 2019, six undergraduates (two of whom have since graduated) met once a week in person, exchanged ideas regularly via a smart phone chat room and shared research on project components via Google Docs.The students came together to participate in the annual Global Health Case Competition of the APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities), whose 2019 challenge was: “Social Networking Intervention to Promote Physical Activity among Young People in Urban Environments.” The team was comprised of Julia Houshmand (UCLA 2020, molecular, cell, and developmental biology), Franklin Leung (UCLA 2019, microbiology, immunology & molecular genetics), Vera Ong (UCLA 2020, psychobiology), Rene Rosas (UCLA 2019, international development studies), Wendy Tang (UCLA 2021, economics) and Sahej Verma (UCLA 2020, global studies). “I remember that [student counselors] Katie Osterkamp and Magda Yamamoto said, ‘You will be competing with medical students and Ph.D. students.’ — And I thought, ‘Great!’” said Julia Houshmand ironically. “I remember watching some of the past videos — we were very intimidated,” said Vera Ong. “But we just gave it our best shot.” That best shot won the Gamechangers team a place among the three finalists — the first time a UCLA team had placed in this APRU competition. (Bruins have won and placed in several APRU health poster competitions in the past). Building on one another’s ideas and skills The team eventually designed a campus-based intervention that would use competitions between individuals, colleges and professional schools of UCLA (and with other universities in Los Angeles) to build community, increase physical activity and encourage healthier eating. One key idea was to showcase star UCLA athletes interested in pursuing careers in fitness by livestreaming their workouts. Although the International Institute was set to cover the students’ travel costs to attend the 13th APRU Global Health Conference last November, the conference was eventually cancelled due to demonstrations in Hong Kong. In the end, the UCLA team came in third. Surprisingly, the students were remarkably upbeat about the outcome, stressing they had learned so much from the collaborative process. “We went into this not to win the competition, but because we wanted to,” said Houshmand. “It sounded like something that was fun and interesting.” “Stressful, but fun!” added Ong, noting that the team developed their case on a compressed timeline that ran into spring quarter finals. “It was interesting how we all came up with the idea. It wasn’t just one person. Honestly, it was all of us sitting on Kerckhoff Patio and using the Socratic Method, asking: ‘What about this?’ ‘No, no, no, no.’ ‘What about this?’” said Ong. As they progressed, the students divided up research and tasks such as budgeting the hypothetical funding. Franklin Leung, a runner, suggested that the intervention use a Strava application to measure physical activity. He also ended up editing the final case video. “We wanted to create an intervention where people would actually have discussions about exercising together, eating healthier foods and so on,” explained Verma. “We set it up in a competition environment so that if, for example, I and Julia were roommates, we could compete with one another to see how we are doing. The goal was to use those friendly elements to live healthier lives.” A shared interest in global health policy The team members are deeply interested in the social determinants of health, equitable access to health care and health policy. Whether pre-med students, future economists or future health activists, their educations and career goals were a great fit with the video project. Houshmand, for example, is a pre-med senior whose interest in global health was sparked by significant travel and the experience of living between France and the United States for most of her life. “The two countries have very different medical systems,” she remarked. “My classmates in both countries came from a lot of different backgrounds, including refugees and people who were undocumented, and on the other hand, people from the highest levels of society,” she continued. “So I saw a lot of these differences, not just at the level of health, but at the level of access to health care.” “Since I became interested in medicine, I’ve always seen it in a global framework,” explained Houshmand. “When I started taking classes in my global health minor, I realized that I love thinking of solutions and interventions for a health issue not just from a biological standpoint, but also taking into account the historical context, the cultural context, the political climate, etc.” Ong also has significant experience in two countries, having been born in the Philippines before moving to Silicon Valley at a young age. She subsequently traveled frequently to see family in the Philippines. “What really got me into global health was growing up watching my uncle, who is a general surgeon there, serve his community,” she remarked. “Similar to Julia [Houshmand],” she adds, “I have experience of different health care systems and have seen that same lack of access to care,” she adds. Both her interest in global health and her volunteer work in the UCLA chapter of Global Medical Training (2018–2020) deepened her intellectual engagement with health policy. For example, she joined the Health Equity Network of the Americas, where she helped organized international conferences that address topics such as universal health, gender inequality in health access and immigrant health. Doctor in provincial hospital in Bulacan, Philippines. (Photo: ILO Asia-Pacific via Flickr). CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Ong, who plans to become a doctor, eventually came to evaluate potential medical schools partly on the basis of whether they incorporated courses on global and public health in their curricula. “That is a big factor for me in choosing a medical school and in what I want to do in the future,” she said. Houshmand, who is also going to medical school, shook her head in agreement. Verma approaches health policy from a social development perspective, but with insider knowledge of health care — he comes from a family of doctors. An internship for a pharmaceutical lobbying group in Geneva, plus subsequent biotech work experience, helped him define a health policy career direction. Specifically, he seeks to combine health policy with new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies to achieve better health outcomes. To do so successfully, however, requires effective communication. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few health economists in the Fielding School of Public Health,” he said, “and I’ve seen how they work to communicate the value of therapeutics and life sciences products to different policy makers to help them devise solutions that will both improve people’s lives and health outcomes.” COVID-19 and its impacts The COVID-19 pandemic has, if anything, increased the interest of the Gamechangers team in global health policy. The race to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections, for example, directly bears on Verma’s senior thesis. The global studies senior, now an undergraduate research fellow, is researching the role of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers in developing vaccines against diseases of poverty that are prevalent in low- and middle-income countries. Verma may, in fact, temporarily delay plans to pursue a Ph.D. in health policy and economics so that he can work for the Indian ministry of health as it develops the regulatory infrastructure to speed the development of safe, efficacious and affordable pharmaceuticals. The pandemic is a wake-up call for the United States, said Verma. “Whether it is the inequitable distribution of materials — think therapeutic tools (vaccines), sanitary equipment (masks), life-saving infrastructure (protocols for medical staff in hospitals) or social rigidities (young people not following social distancing norms, while older folks are scared to shop for essential groceries and medicines) — America needs to rethink where its priorities lie as a society,” he continued. An image of the global pandemic in the shape of a COVID-19 molecule. (Image by Miroslava Chrienova courtesy of Pixabay.) “Post–COVID-19 will be a time not only to reconstruct infrastructure, but also to reconcile a communal attitude with productivity arguments,” he remarked. The UCLA student believes that the pandemic will lead many young people to study health policy in order “to challenge existing rationales about mechanisms of healthcare in the USA.” Ong has been struck by how much the pandemic has highlighted pre-existing flaws in public and global health policy. “It exposed just how much our current systems were unprepared for a pandemic such as this, and how much we need to improve as global and local communities,” she commented. “COVID-19 definitely shows the importance of global communication, teamwork and transparency, as well as the importance of forming pre-planned protocols to minimize potential consequences,” she said. Ong, who is currently working with the UCLA Learning Assistants Program to help professors navigate Zoom and better engage their students remotely, is seeing firsthand how time-efficient and useful such interactions can be. “With an increased focus on telemedicine, I can see similar benefits within the medical field,” she said. “By decreasing overall waiting time and providing more scheduling flexibility, telehealth could encourage patients to be more active in consulting physicians overall, increasing doctor-patient interaction and treating illnesses early.” Verma also believes that one outcome of the pandemic will be a revival of doctor-patient interaction. Yet the barriers to effective telemedicine remain significant, with equitable access to communications technologies at the top of the list. “The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the gaps in communications infrastructure, with restricted broadband speeds amid increased usage,” he pointed out. How regulators and the government support the adoption of these technologies will be the true litmus test of their efficacy in serving community health needs, insisted Verma. Ong points to additional barriers that must be addressed before telehealth can become a reality, including lack of technological literacy among physicians and patients, hacking dangers and lack of a robust protocol. As for the immediate future, Ong — like Houshmand — heads off to medical school in the fall. Verma will begin working as a research assistant at University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. Expect these Bruins to make their mark on global health policy in the coming decades. Published: Thursday, April 9, 2020
May 18, 2020more
2020 Healthy Women/Healthy Economies Research Prize Application Open Through May 2020
The APEC “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” (HWHE) has found that sex-disaggregated data and gender based research and analysis is lacking. Policy makers, business leaders and others do not have adequate data and evidence to draw from to identify gender-specific interventions appropriate for their economies and organizations. To spotlight and spur much-needed data and evidence, Chile, along with Merck’s support, has created an annual prize recognizing research that enables policy makers, business leaders, and others to identify and implement measures to improve women’s health in APEC economies so women can join and rise in the workforce. Dr. Mellissa Withers, Director of the APRU Global Health Program, was chosen to be one of the judges of this contest in 2019. Prize The winner of the prize will win USD $20,000, while the 2 runners-up will win USD $5,000 each. If the winner or runner up is from government then the prize money will be given instead to HealthyWomen (a women’s health not-for-profit). Alternatively, the winner or runners-up may designate a not-for-profit entity to receive the prize money. Please attribute the research to all involved in its making, but only one individual may be nominated and eligible to receive the prize money and present the research. Eligibility In order to be considered for this prize, individuals must submit an original piece of research that is no older than two years of age as of January 1, 2020. All are welcome to apply; you do not require a background in academia in order to be considered. However, the research must be evidence based. Furthermore, the research must be submitted in English. If the research was not originally written in English please have it professionally translated. Application Materials Application (**Please use this for applying. Send completed version to [email protected]**) APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Application Form APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Prize Flyer For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website. Contact [email protected] for any questions.
April 8, 2020more
APRU Supports the Advancement of UN SDGs at Korea University Conference on Engineering Sustainable Development
APRU joined engineers, scientists, and policy-makers at a gathering at the Korea University in Seoul to discuss technical and engineering challenges of addressing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the Conference on Engineering Sustainable Development 2019 held December 12-13, APRU’s Director of Policy & Programs Christina Schönleber, outlined some of APRU’s collaborative programs in key areas of focus, such as Shaping Higher Education in the Asia Pacific; Creating Global Student Leaders; and Asia-Pacific Challenges. Schönleber conveyed her excitement over APRU’s newest program, the Sustainable Waste Management Program, which was set up by Professor Yong Sik Ok, the chair of the conference and a professor in the Korea University’s Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering. “Through the Sustainable Waste Management Program, APRU aims to support the development of an effective sustainable management agenda for biological waste and remediation of soil, water, and air in the local context, to satisfy environmental compatibility, financial feasibility, and social needs,” Schönleber said. “I very much look forward to working with Professor Ok and many of you here today to support governments and policy-makers with new insights derived from this new APRU program,” she added. Schönleber’s presentation at the Conference on Engineering Sustainable Development was based on the realization that humankind is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the crossing of a number of planetary boundaries that are essential for regulating the earth system. She cited a recent declaration by more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries that warned that a climate emergency could bring untold suffering if urgent action is not taken to conserve the biosphere. Schönleber went on to outline why it is universities’ responsibility to engage externally and collaboratively, acting across borders and regions to address existential global challenges. She pointed out that APRU, with its unique network of 51 leading research universities from 18 economies around the Pacific with more than two million students and more than 200,000 faculty, has made a start on generating will and implementing viable solutions at scale by offering a neutral platform to support cross-border, trans-Pacific collaborations. “We are the first generation to know that we are undermining the ability of the Earth system to support human development, and this profound insight is an enormous privilege, because it means that we are the first generation to know we need to change,” Schönleber said. “The APRU experience shows that universities can make a real difference if acting together across boundaries of nation, culture, discipline, and gender,” she added.
January 3, 2020more
APRU Global Health Program advisory group leader launches new journal
APRU congratulates Dr. Juhwan Oh, a long-standing member of the APRU Global Health Program’s advisory group, for the successful launch of the Journal of Global Health Science (JGHS). The open-access, peer-reviewed international online journal officially published by the Korean Society of Global Health advances research to support policy, practice, and education in the field of global health by publishing papers of high scientific quality from diverse stakeholders in the global health community. JGHS’s focus is on under-served populations in the low- and middle-income nations and marginalized groups within otherwise prosperous nations. As a reflection of the successful start, JGHS will turn to quarterly publication this year, from biannually during the inaugural year 2019. APRU sees JGHS as playing an important role. Although unparalleled improvements in living conditions, poverty reduction, and life expectancies were made in the last century, many more global challenges lie ahead, including aging, urbanization, migration, environmental degradation, rising rates of chronic diseases, as well as social and economic inequalities. “Confronting the health challenges of our modern world requires challenging conventional wisdom with new ideas that reflect the changing global landscape; the launch of JGHS is an important step in advancing global health by creating a platform to share and debate scholarly research from around the world,” said Dr. Mellissa Withers, Director, APRU Global Health Program. “I am pleased to see that the focus of the JGHS is under-served populations in low- and middle-income economies and marginalized groups in high-income economies, and I am certain that JGHS will expand the opportunity to share high quality scientific work through an open-access format,” she added. JGHS places special focus on the following topics: reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health; infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases; non-communicable diseases including cancer and mental health; injury; humanitarian aid; nutrition; universal health coverage; health law; global health workforce; health systems; surgery; health technologies; people centeredness; and health policy. The journal specially aims to focus on interconnecting diverse key stakeholders: community leaders; national and local members of parliament; national and local health officials; professionals from academic institutions; non-state actors; clinical and laboratory experts; and multilateral and bilateral agency officials. The scope of JGHS accommodates diverse styles of submissions including Original Research Articles, Review Articles, Short Research Notes, Editorial, Comments, and Letters from Field. Special niches within JGHS include articles on scientific program evaluation as well as any debating comments on official development aid.
December 15, 2019more
Upgrade needed for universities’ workplace wellness programs, new APRU survey shows
APRU Global Health Program released its latest report on Workplace Wellness (WW) finding that although many universities have implemented a range of programs designed to promote employee health and well-being, these programs are often not designed in a strategic or comprehensive way. The report was initiated at the Global Health Conference 2016, a special workshop on workplace wellness was held on the first day of the conference. A Sydney Statement on Employee Health and Well-being was announced and called on our universities to fulfil the responsibility to their employee’s health and well-being. Responding to this call, the report is based on an online survey conducted by the APRU Global Health Program (GHP) and completed by 29 universities in 13 Asia-Pacific economies in 2018. The survey aimed to assess the range and scope of employee health and wellness programs at universities in the Asia-Pacific; evaluate gaps and challenges; and facilitate the crafting of recommendations. “We identified a number of innovative and successful workplace wellness programs that our member universities offer, such as fitness challenges and health screenings, but programs relating to mental health, violence, and smoking cessation are especially lacking,” Prof Mellissa Withers of USC says. “The results demonstrate that the main perceived challenge of workplace wellness programs is lack of employee participation,” she adds. The survey suggests that participation suffers from a lack of protected time for employees to engage in WW programs. It also found that few universities offered financial rewards (such as discounts for health insurance or salary bonuses) for employees who have healthy lifestyles. The report moreover cited universities’ insufficient usage of social media or mobile phone messaging to disseminate health information to employees. Among the commendable case studies highlighted are The University of Hong Kong’s Walking Challenge, which entails a goal number of steps for the HKU community to walk together. In October 2018, the challenge expanded to involve over 1,500 people from more than 17 countries and amassed 463,447,412 steps—equivalent to walking 7 times around the world. Another case study is the Domestic Violence Support Policy by The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, which supports members who are directly or indirectly experiencing domestic violence, including by offering paid domestic violence leave of up to 10 days. The University of Southern California, for its part, offers an attractive reward scheme for smoking cessation, with staff and faculty who do not use tobacco or commit to enroll in a tobacco cessation program receiving a $25 reduction per month in paycheck contributions for their medical plan. Download the report >> The APRU Global Health Program, launched in 2007, is hosted by the University of Southern California and is led by Program Director, Professor Mellissa Withers. By facilitating collaboration and enhancing regional dialogue, the APRU Global Health Program works to bridge health divides, promoting and protecting population health and meeting shared health challenges.
December 13, 2019more
Finalists entries for the 2016 Global Health Case Competition
For this year’s inaugural APRU Global Health Program Case Competition student teams were encouraged to consider a balance of innovative yet realistic, evidence-based solutions for the competition challenge Preparing Pacific Rim Countries for Natural Disasters’. The plot created for this case study is fictional and bears no direct reflection to any existing organisation or individual and was created exclusively for use in the 2016 APRU Global Health Case Competition. Any reuse, reproduction, or distribution of this case material must be approved by the USC Institute for Global Health or APRU. For questions, please contact Mellissa Withers at [email protected] Here are the videos of the winning team, Our Lady of Fatima University and the finalist teams from Tohoku University and Kyoto University: Winning Team: Our Lady of Fatima University Finalist Teams: Tohoku University and Kyoto University (L-R)
November 30, 2016more