APRU Global Health Conference Focuses on Urban Health and Infodemics
December 10, 2021

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.