APRU Members Shine at Healthy Women Healthy Economies Prize
Photo source: APEC News APRU congratulates Dr. Jason Junjie Huang, the winner of the 2023 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize at the 2023 APEC Women and the Economy Forum in Seattle in August. Dr. Huang is the Deputy Director and Research Assistant Professor at the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion (CHEHP) of APRU member the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). His study, in collaboration with the APRU Global Health Program’s Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Working Group, investigated the global burden of endometrial cancer, one of the most common cancers affecting women. Finding that many of the risk factors that contribute to endometrial cancer are lifestyle choices, Dr. Huang stressed that education campaigns are a critical tool for raising awareness of the modifiable risk factors to endometrial cancer. APRU’s strong representation in the realm of outstanding research work for women’s health was additionally manifested by Weiyu Zhou, a student in the School of Public Health of APRU member Fudan University, being one of the two runners-up. Zhou’s research underscored the importance of education campaigns to protect against preventable disease that affects working-age women. Her study investigated a new pilot program on HPV immunization involving mothers and girls aged 9-14 in Shanghai. Zhou illustrated that when economies invest in education campaigns to increase parental HPV-related knowledge, the uptake of vaccination among girls increases. Launched in 2018, the Healthy Women Healthy Economies Prize supports 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 that they can join, rise, and thrive in the workforce. Thanks to Mellissa Withers, Director of the APRU Global Health Program, who served as a judge of the Prize. The winning researcher receives USD 20,000 and the two runners-up receive USD 5,000 each.
September 7, 2023more
Unique innovations blossomed at the APRU SDG Education for Global Citizenship Program
May 22, 2023more
Global Climate Change Simulation Offers USC Students New Perspectives on Worldwide Fight
Original post on USC Global. While climate change remains a pressing issue across countries and generations, research shows the topic is of particular concern to millennials and Gen Z, according to Pew. That is part of the reason why the Student Global Climate Change Simulation has drawn such immense interest from the USC student body. It’s also a challenging, thought-provoking way to learn more about the worldwide effects of climate change. The event, hosted in partnership with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), saw almost 200 students from 22 universities around the globe participating in an online mock United Nations climate change conference. Students formed delegations that worked together to negotiate policies, sign pledges related to carbon emission caps and other climate change solutions, and more. Top experts from the UN, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and other esteemed organizations also spoke at the simulation on issues such as climate refugees, reforestation and ocean health. This year, the simulation was led in part by Mellissa Withers, director of the APRU Global Health Program at USC and associate professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Shannon Gibson, associate professor of environmental studies, political science and international relations at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Gibson first became interested in working on the APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation years ago, when she experienced an earlier iteration at a summit. She incorporated it into her own classroom, and later, with the help of Withers, “took the model and really expanded it.” “I think as an educator, one of the things that you become aware of is that students learn by doing. They learn by putting themselves in the shoes of a decision-maker. By taking a student who may only have a perspective of the United States when it comes to climate change, having them function as China, or the Philippines, or South Africa really helps them to learn how the thinking varies,” she told USC Global. Preparing for Careers in Global Health The mock exercise ran for three days total — April 11, April 18 and April 25 — and drew students from multiple schools and disciplines within USC, including public health, computer science, business, international relations, environmental studies, global studies, occupational therapy and engineering. Giancarlo Ceja, an international relations and environmental studies undergraduate student, hopes the simulation will impact his future career in environmental policy, using his education to help those living in countries most affected by climate change. “In terms of environmental justice, I grew up in a very low-income, marginalized community in Southern California. My parents immigrated from a rural community in Mexico, and both are being affected in different ways by climate change. Marginalized, low-income communities around the world are most vulnerable to the brunt of the effects of climate change, and I want to help fix that,” he explained. Ceja is also optimistic his fellow participants will end the mock conference more aware of how much work is yet to be done, especially by the world’s most powerful countries. While everyone has a role in combating climate change, some nations — specifically developed countries that have produced the most carbon emissions — have a higher responsibility to contribute to the fight against climate change, he said. “Coming together in the international community and holding up to the commitments that you make is really important. Solving this problem is impossible without international cooperation,” explained Ceja, citing the UN’s common but differentiated responsibilities principle. Like Ceja, environmental science and public health undergraduate student Abeerah Siddiqui was inspired to participate in the simulation to gain a new, universal outlook on today’s critical climate change challenges. “We all have this collective interest in combating climate change, so this way, we can get a more global perspective on the issue. I think oftentimes, as students here, we’re a lot more familiar with how the U.S. handles [climate change]. We’re learning how our local communities are addressing the issues, but not so much how other countries and other parts of the world are tackling it,” she explained. With an aspiring career in public health, Siddiqui believes the mock negotiations will allow her to further grasp international health care systems and policies, as well as come up with public health solutions that prioritize regional perspectives. “The skills and knowledge I take away from this will help me [prepare] when it comes time for me to potentially visit other countries,” Siddiqui said. Multi-Discipline Simulation Promoting a cross-industry response to climate change, the simulation also included Master of Business Administration (MBA) student Kayla Friedman-Barb, who is looking to enhance her education in clean and renewable solutions to pivot to the sustainability sector following graduation. “Understanding other people’s perspectives is a huge part of business and [how we operate],” she said. “We need to understand how other countries think about climate change and what they see as the best ways to combat it, working together in order to have a truly collaborative solution.” Friedman-Barb was particularly eager to learn from students who are based outside of the U.S., as the international negotiations would highlight what the U.S. and other countries are “willing to give up” or refuse to mediate in their respective commitments to tackling climate change. “What’s important for each community and each person will become apparent, especially in younger generations who are participating in this program,” Friedman-Barb explained. For Gibson, these students have perfectly articulated what she hopes they will take away from the process: an effective, international approach to protecting our shared planet. Even if climate change is not a topic brimming with optimism, it’s a crucial one that will directly impact each and every participant — and Gibson is hopeful some students will go on to directly influence the fight against climate change. “Sometimes, I wish it were a bit more hopeful, but it does show them climate mitigation is a political process,” Gibson said. “It’s not just a scientific problem. It is very much a political, social and economic issue, as well as a cultural problem. You need that interdisciplinary approach to understand how to solve this massive problem.” Learn more about APRU and USC’s Department of Population and Public Health Sciences today. Find out more about the Climate Change Simulation here.
May 2, 2023more
UO Students Co-host APRU Global Climate Change Simulation
Original post on Around the O. The University of Oregon is co-hosting the Student Global Climate Change Simulation sponsored by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation is a role-playing exercise in which students will form multicountry, multidisciplinary teams to play the role of delegates to the UN climate change negotiations. Twenty-two universities from around the Pacific Rim are taking part in the exercise, which runs April 11-25. Over three sessions, an online simulation activity will use materials from the World Climate Interactive and the C-ROADS simulation model developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The live sessions will be supplemented with short lectures and other materials developed and curated by the APRU experts, which will be available on a shared Canvas website. To learn more, visit the World Climate Simulation. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation is co-organized by the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program housed at the UO and the APRU Global Health Program housed at University of Southern California. Partner universities include Fiji National University, Keio University, Korea University, Monash University, Nagoya University, Nanyang Technological University, National Taiwan University, National University of Singapore, 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, The University of Sydney, Tohoku University, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Universiti Malaya and University of Hawaii. Find out more about the Climate Change Simulation 2023 here.
April 10, 2023more
APAIE 2023: APRU universities showcase successful student programs for social impact
Universities of APRU showcased the APRU Virtual Student Exchange Program, the APRU SDG Education for Global Citizenship Program, and the APRU UN Climate Change Simulation at the APAIE (Asia-Pacific Association for International Education) 2023 Conference. Held March 13-17, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand, and with more than 2,700 delegates from 61 countries/ regions, the APAIE 2023 Conference was an effective platform for supporting member universities and highlighting APRU’s collective impact. The APAIE 2023’s APRU panel, which was chaired by APRU Director, Network Management, Jackie Wong, explored collaborative ideas and frameworks to develop partnerships that support international programs that are inclusive, integrative, and innovative. The panel drew on the experiences of universities including APRU members in working together to provide unique student experiences in virtual environments. Panelists included Ms Shally Fan, Director of Academic Links, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr Ram Piyaket, Director, Office of International Affairs and Global Network, Chulalongkorn University, and Dr Mellissa Withers, Associate Professor, University of Southern California. Chulalongkorn University, a supporting university of APAIE 2023, also hosted the panel titled, “Co-designing SDG programs for Sustainable Futures—Challenges and Opportunities” chaired by Michiko Yoshida, Director of Chulalongkorn University’s Global Networking and Engagement Division and featuring panellists: Ruhimat Soerakoesoemah, UN ESCAP’s Head of the Subregional Office for South-East Asia; Ronnakorn Vaiyavuth, Lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s School of Integrated Innovation; and Paola Ardiles Gamboa, Senior Lecturer at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Joined by experienced multidisciplinary scholars and practitioners, the panel discussed the value of co-designing the APRU SDG Education for Global Citizenship program. Yoshida said, “Shaping sustainable futures requires co-creating knowledge, and as educators, we have an opportunity to ensure borderless and innovative education in the Asia-Pacific through practices that are equitable, inclusive, and reflect the diversity of our region.” The collaborative implementation of the APRU SDG Education for Global Citizenship program is a prime example of how partners can reach our sustainable and educational aspirations. “We are thankful for this exchange on virtual programs that can shape our collective impact as a network,” said Wong. “It was a great opportunity for us to highlight the value of international collaboration and multi-sectoral engagement among universities and with the international community in addressing global challenges,” she added. The Asia-Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) is committed to promoting the value of international education within the Asia-Pacific region, enabling greater cooperation between institutions, and enriching and supporting international programs, activities, and exchanges. More than 2,700 delegates from 61 countries/ regions attended the APAIE 2023, translating into ample opportunities to expand their networks. APRU looks forward to the APAIE 2024 in Perth in March next year.
March 17, 2023more
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
APRU Students Showcase Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills in APRU Global Health Virtual Case Competition
The 7th APRU Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022 recently concluded, giving a total of 48 teams across 22 universities in 12 economies a platform to present solutions for the challenges the health system of Fiji has been facing. The competing teams had up to 10 weeks to prepare a 10-minute video in English to address a complex hypothetical scenario, for which there is no single “right” plan. Fiji has had 64,221 cases and 834 deaths due to COVID as of March 21, 2022. Despite a relatively successful response to COVID-19, the financial cost to Fiji’s economy has been devastating. In 2019, Fiji’s tourism brought in US$1.3 billion, but passenger arrivals plummeted by 84% in 2020, causing tourism to generate only US$236 million. This dramatic drop illustrates that extended quarantine and lockdown measures are not feasible for highly tourism-dependent countries. The APRU Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022’s winning team was Fiji Apple from National University of Singapore. The decision, which came along with a prize of US$1,000, was made by an international panel of 16 judges, experts and participants of the Sustainable Cities and Landscape Conference 2022. Fiji Apple’s three-pronged solution consists of FijiReadi!, which strives to improve Fiji’s future pandemic preparedness and response via the use of a bottom-up approach; FijiUniti!, which improves communication between villages and higher administrative units; and FijiXchange!, which is a material goods exchange system to secure essential supplies. “It important for us to consider Fiji’s culture and practices in suggesting solutions that favor local level governance rather than national level ones,” Fiji Apple says in its winning video. “We thus identified the need to promote a bottom-up approach to pandemic detection and response that empowers people living in both urban and rural areas,” they add. Although this challenge was hypothetical, many economies around the world are currently considering how to address identical issues. For more information about the case competition 2022, visit here.
September 23, 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
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 Global Health Conference Focuses on Urban Health and Infodemics
The APRU Global Health Conference 2021 was held virtually on November 16-18, hosted by the School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong. The event, which took three years of preparation due to the pandemic, focused on global urban health and featured the announcements of the student winners of the APRU Virtual Global Health Case Competition and the Global Health Student Poster Contest. Urbanization and expansion of cities are inexorable global trends. Over 55% of the world’s population now lives in urban cities, and this proportion is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. The health consequences of such population changes are increasingly recognized as a key issues for sustainable human development. Cities present opportunities and challenges, which holds the key to citizens’ health and well-being. “Cross-sectoral partnerships offer the chance to develop integrated responses connecting environment and health,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, the founder and CEO of US-based Panorama, a platform for visionary leaders to develop solutions and bold action for social change, in a keynote speech. “How we catalyze the coalition in a fluid system is the key to address global challenges,” she added. Keynotes and plenary speakers shared insights on the built environment and its effects on human well-being under climate change and rapid urbanization. The panels’ topics ranged from mental health among adolescents to digital technologies and from health risk behaviour to active lifestyles. The APRU Virtual Global Health Case Competition 2021 awarded the winning prize to the short-listed teams at the conference. Participating teams were challenged young talents to develop technology-driven solutions to the COVID-19 Infodemic. There is a pressing need to address the massive amount of misinformation that has quickly spread throughout the world during the pandemic, with dramatic negative personal and societal consequences. This year the competition was conceived and hosted by the APRU Global Health Program in partnership with Amazon Web Services. ‘Amazon and AWS have made an upskilling commitment, to make it easier for people to have access to the skills they need to grow their careers. The APRU Global Health Case Competition encourages young talents and future leaders to address global challenges with technologies mindful of social impact, equity of access and equality to learning. This synchronises perfectly with AWS’ commitment.’ said by Dr. Julian Sham, Head of Health Business, Asia Pacific & Japan, AWS. 121 teams from 37 universities in 17 economies submitted the entries this year. The winning team is UP Mediasina, a team of six medical students from the University of the Philippines, who were awarded US$1,000. The two runners-up are from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Nanyang Technological University. “Although the Philippines is the social media capital of the world with 89 million active users, it lacks a dedicated information crisis response,” the UP Mediasina team said in their video introducing their Project Dinig for systemized communication strategies. “The Philippines is facing a perfect storm and our health system is under crisis, but it need not be for long, as Filipinos could benefit from social listening facilitated by Project Dinig,” they added. The global health poster contest, for its part, invited current undergraduate and graduate students to submit their works related to global health research and studies to enter the competition. The contest received 64 submissions from 27 universities across 12 economies. The winning teams of the undergraduate category and graduate category are from the University of Santo Tomas and The University of Hong Kong respectively. The two winners were each awarded US$500. Find out more about the conference and the student case competition here.
December 10, 2021more
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.
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
August 17, 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
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 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
APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize 2019
The inaugural APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize is now accepting applications for outstanding research that strives to improve women’s health, economic well being, and inclusive growth. The winning entry will receive USD $20,000 and two runners-up will receive USD $5,000 each. Theme The prize aims to highlight and spur the creation of sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research that will help decision-makers make more evidence-based policies to improve the lives of women and strengthen the regional economy. Based on The Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit, the five research topics are: workplace health and safety health awareness and access sexual and reproductive health gender-based violence work/ life balance Requirement Individuals must submit an original piece of research that is no older than two years as of January 1, 2019. Applicants may be individuals or teams (with one leader listed) who are from an APEC economy. No academic background required. The research must be evidence-based and addresses at least one of the topics outlined in the toolkit. The research must be submitted in English. Find out the full list of requirements. Must be an APEC member economy. Submission & Deadline To submit your application form, click here. The deadline to submit applications is July 5, 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 NGOs. See details here. The top three finalists will have the opportunity to present their research to members of the APEC Women and the Economy Forum in La Serena, Chile. The prize winner will be announced at the annual Women Leaders’ APEC Roundtable during the 2019 APEC CEO Summit in Santiago, Chile in November 2019. APEC CEO Summit is Asia-Pacific’s most influential meeting of business and government leaders. Contact Contact [email protected] with any questions.
May 6, 2019more
APEC Health Meetings in PNG enriched by APRU insights
APRU provided valuable recommendations to shape APEC’s health-related agenda at the third Senior Official Meetings (SOM3) held in mid-August in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. At the APEC “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” workshop,” Mellissa Withers, Director of the APRU Global Health Program and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, presented on the assessment of workplace wellness programs implemented by universities in the Asia-Pacific region with a specific focus on gender. The assessment is based on a recent survey of APRU members, who represent collectively more than 140,000 staff and approx. 2 million students, regarding their range and scope of employee health and wellness programs. Withers pointed out that the survey showed the top priority was chronic diseases, with violence prevention being last priority. Among the other findings cited were low employee engagement in programs, lack of budget, and programs often being regarded as low priority. Many programs were “token” as opposed to comprehensively or strategically designed, and data is not being routinely collected. “We recommend regular, in-depth, mandatory sexual harassment trainings and more formal protocols for handling complaints,” Withers said. “Universities should implement specific, written policies on discrimination, and workplace culture should be more supportive of women and less tolerant of violence and abuse,” she added. Withers went on to represent the APRU Global Health Program at the 8th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy (APEC HLM8). Her presentation at APEC HLM8 addressed the wide-reaching consequences when primary health care does not adequately support women with a focus on economic loss. Among Withers’ recommendations were routine screenings, more victims services, shelters and hotlines, as well as the establishment of sexual violence units in police, hospitals and primary care facilities. “The availability of counseling and support services with collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams must be ensured, and there should be workplace support programs for women experiencing intimate partner violence,” Withers urged. “There also is a need for more relevant national policy and formal legislation with designated budget,” she added. The APEC HLM8’s keynote addresses were held by Honorable Sir Dr. Puka Temu, Minister of Health and Chair-APEC HLM8, Papua New Guinea, and Dr. Shin Young-soo, Regional Director, World Health Organization – Western Pacific Region. A ministerial panel on putting people at the center of health care through primary health care included panelists: Honorable Michiyo Takagi, State Minister of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan; Honorable Shih-Chung Chen, Minister of Health and Welfare, Chinese Taipei; and Honorable Dr. Puka Temu. APRU’s contributions to the SOM3 reflects its strong commitment to continue actively feeding into APEC’s health-related agenda. The aim is to inform policy makers and collaborate on activities supporting economic development of the region.
September 13, 2018more
Winners of 2018 Global Health Student Poster Contest
The winners of the APRU Global Health Program Conference Student Poster Contest 2018 emerged from 36 excellent submissions from students from 10 economies. They were judged by APRU Global Health Advisory Group members. The winners are: UNDERGRADUATE 1st Place: Anak Agung Diyananda Paramita (Warmadewa University) 2nd Place: Bonardo Hasiholan (University of Indonesia) 3rd Place: Megan Ren, Jason Zhang, Rishi Makkar, Nicolas Gonzalez, Mili Patel (University of California, Los Angeles) GRADUATE 1st Place: Mengge Han (Fudan University) 2nd Place: Jocelyn Dracakis (The University of Sydney) 3rd Place: Sarah Lawrence, Betty Nguyen, Jacqueline Pei (University of California, Los Angeles) The 1st prize winners in each category will receive a USD$100 gift card during the awards ceremony at the annual APRU Global Health conference 2018 which is going to be hosted by University of Malaya on October 28-30, 2018. All student posters will also be presented at the conference.
September 3, 2018more
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