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.