With Sarawak in the world’s spotlight for its effective community and public health measures, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and the Sarawak Government are now paving the way for global public health development after winning the bid to host the 54th Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) Conference 2023 with the support of Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak).
The conference is set to take place from 30 October to 1 November 2023 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching with an expected crowd of 800 public health experts, practitioners and industry collaborators from across the world. The main organiser, Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health has entrusted UNIMAS as the local host; while the Ministry of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Sarawak, Sarawak State Health Department, and BESarawak are supporting the conference.
One of Sarawak’s biggest challenges is having to meet the public healthcare needs of 3 million people; concentrated in its urban districts and dispersed throughout the rural areas. The Sarawak Government has already made significant efforts to meet the demand with efforts such as forming the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, building the Sarawak Heart Centre, and investing RM200 million ($45 million) in the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre. The government is also in talks with the Ministry of Health Malaysia to open a cancer care centre.
“Public health is extremely important. It goes beyond preventing and responding to diseases — it is about giving everyone access to the right healthcare services and facilities to improve their quality of life and live longer,” said The Honourable Dato Sri Professor Dr Sim Kui Hian, Sarawak’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government. “The government has spent decades focusing on the improvement of healthcare and medicine but today, we are facing new challenges that need more research, collaboration and innovation. The 54th APACPH Conference will be at the heart of community and public health education and transform Sarawak into a global hub for public health research and learning.”
The theme for the 54th APACPH Conference is ‘Transcending the New Normal: Strengthening Public Health Through Education, Research and Collaboration’ and aims to provide a strong platform for policy and strategy development; implementation of educational, research and training programmes, and demonstration of effective interventions in the field of community and public health.
“Public health is one of our university’s strengths under the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, hence hosting the conference is a great opportunity for us to lead the global academic scientific communities,” said Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim bin Suaidi, UNIMAS Vice-Chancellor. “In addition to workshops and symposia, delegates will visit UNIMAS’ Malaria Research Centre and Institute of Health and Community Medicine to tour our facilities. They will also tour the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre”.
“Education, research, and collaborations with related agencies and collaborations are fundamental in tackling current and future public health matters such as communicable and non-communicable diseases which are still major challenges in Malaysia”, explained Professor Dr Maznah Dahlui, Vice President (Administration) for Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium of Public Health (APACPH International). “Higher education plays a critical role in addressing public health challenges and we hope that the conference will motivate everyone to cross boundaries and work together toward a common goal.”
In terms of the legacy impact, some anticipated impacts from the conference include enhancing action plans to assist higher education institutions to achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and expand their members’ networks at the local and international levels through strategic collaborations.
“The 54th APACPH Conference is a strong event to reflect the importance of purpose-driven business events in sector and community development,” stated Amelia Roziman, BESarawak’s CEO. “We are working with the conference committee to address 4 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which are Good Health and Well-being; Quality Education; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Partnerships for the Goals. The legacy that we hope for is that this conference in Sarawak is the key to Malaysia and Asia’s public health developments.”
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