14th APRU Global Health Conference 2020 records massive virtual reach
November 27, 2020

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.

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