The 2013 APRU Global Health Conference was held in Hangzhou, China, hosted by Zhejiang University. More than 14 APRU universities and 18 other universities and associations attended. In addition, numerous participants joined the conference for the first time.
Dr. Jianhua Lin, President of Zhejiang University, as well as Dr. Weihang Ma, the vice-director of the Health Bureau of Zhejiang Province, kicked off the meeting with a warm welcome.
Alex Capron was the keynote speaker from the University of Southern California who is a world-renowned expert on bioethics. He gave an informative talk regarding international research ethics, setting the stage for considering a response to a RFA from the U.S. National Institutes of Health on research ethics. He brought up some very valuable considerations for anyone engaged in research, including students, researchers, medical doctors and university research ethics boards.
Over the course of two days, a total of 25 speakers from all over the region gave oral presentations, showcasing the diverse experiences and inter-disciplinary nature of the group’s work in the Pacific Rim. Major themes covered in the conference included: the global burden of disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, smoking, global health trade policy, migration, and global health education. For the first time ever, a poster session was held, which included 15 interesting posters that were very well-received.
Dr. Shankuan Zhu, Associate Dean of the Zhejiang University School of Public Health, and his team were very gracious hosts who provided opportunities for participants to experience some of the fantastic local Chinese culture, including a delicious banquet with Dr. Lin, the President of Zhejiang University. The conference ended with a fun-filled day of sightseeing around the beautiful lakeside town of Hangzhou.
Working Group on Formal Definition of Global Health
In response to requests at previous meetings, a session was held to continue the dialogue around the creation of a formal APRU GHP definition of global health. The session, led by Dr. Mellissa Withers, was attended by nine members. Several key components were suggested:
- The objective of global health is to address health disparities and promote health in a global sense.
- The definition should emphasize inter-connectivity in our world today. The field of global health should be inclusive while acknowledging and appreciating both commonalities and differences among nations. Different historical contexts and perspectives of the countries within APRU should also be acknowledged in order to create this definition.
- Global health, like public health, focuses on population versus individuals
- The focus should be on intended outcomes (prevention, quality of life, etc). A list of expected competencies of global health professionals should also be created.
- The role of culture in health should be appreciated.
- The field of global health should utilize expertise from many disciplines.
APRU GHP members will be called upon to continue working on this definition in early 2014 in order to formalize our concept of global health before the next conference.
Working Group on E-cigarettes:
A small group, led by Dr. Heather Wipfli, met to discuss potential collaboration around the topic of e-cigarettes, rising problem among youth and young adults globally. The research opportunities identified by the group of ten people included:
- Policy Comparisons: Vastly different regulatory approaches are being taken towards e-cigarettes in the region ranging from complete bans or little to no regulation. It was agreed that collecting the various policy approaches would be informative to inform variances in use and attitudes towards e-cigarettes.
- Student Survey: Given the group’s direct access to university students, a critical contribution that APRU could make would be to conduct a student survey of knowledge and opinions about e-cigarettes, as well as usage and purchasing behaviors.
- Mapping Survey: A comparative study of where e-cigarettes are marketed and sold throughout the Pacific Rim would be a useful.
- Ongoing Research: Faculty at a number of APRU universities are engaged in research around e-cigarettes. It was agreed that we should survey what is happening around e-cigarettes.
Working Group on Cardiovascular Disease Grants:
The CVD brainstorming group was led by Dr. Richard Taylor. The group was very interested in the success of Japan controlling stroke and in preventing and epidemic of CVD despite urbanisation and development. This could be an area of collaborative research. Dr. Taylor plans to contact APRU colleagues in Japan concerning this. Also a speaker from Japan will be invited to the next conference to discuss this further. Other Pacific Rim country comparisons concerning success or failure in control of CVD would also be of interest. Funding could possibly come from Japan, and/or NIH/Gates/Rockefeller and/or WHO. There was also some interest in CVD intervention trials of population based approaches, individual approaches, and combinations, which could be multi-country.
Several potential speakers were identified for APRU-sponsored panels at two upcoming scientific conferences in the United States-the UC Global Health Day in April and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health annual conference in May. Five panel ideas were submitted to each of these conferences.
A new Steering Committee has been created this month to provide ongoing guidance and leadership on how to move the APRU GH Program forward. There are numerous opportunities to expand the scope of the GH Program; most critically, to identify collaborative research projects and secure funding .
Please submit your news, events or ideas for our new quarterly APRU GHP newsletter! The first edition will be sent out in January 2014! So please watch for it!
Bioethics Training Grant Opportunity
A potential funding opportunity through the U.S.’ Fogarty Program was been identified. This grant would provide funding for five years for USC and collaborators to develop a bioethics ethics program to train researchers from several Pacific Rim countries, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The proposal is currently in development.
New Website and Faculty Survey:
Based on your interest and feedback, our website (www.apruglobalhealth.org) is undergoing a major overhaul. The new website will facilitate more collaborations and sharing among our members and will include faculty bios, recent publications from our members, news and events, podcasts and lectures by our members, funding opportunities, a syllabi bank, practicum matching, etc. We need your help to improve the website and welcome your suggestions!
If you have not yet completed the brief online survey to help us gather the information for these new programs, please take a few moments to complete it. All interested participants are eligible, even if your university is not a member. Click on the link below: