23 August 2020
The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) and the Faculty of Medicine at Universiti Malaya (UM) co-hosted a scientific event, “Building Capacity and Partnerships for Health Advocacy”, at the T.J. Danaraj Auditorium, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur on 23 August 2020.
The scientific event was aimed at building bridges between the different areas of the health system, i.e. amongst specialist doctors, academicians, global health practitioners and the Ministry of Health (MOH), as well as equipping specialist doctors with skills and knowledge to become better health advocates.
The event opened with a welcome address from the AMM Master, Professor Dr. Rosmawati Mohamed and the Dean of Faculty of Medicine, UM, Professor Dato’ Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, followed by a talk by Dr. Khor Swee Kheng, founder of the Malaysian Health Coalition, on “The Anatomy of Health Advocacy in Malaysia”. Next, experienced broadcaster, Sharaad Kuttan, shared insights on engaging the public on health issues.
The keynote address, “Planetary Health - the Next Frontier in a Changing World”, was delivered by Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Health. This was followed by a panel session on the event theme, “Building Capacity and Partnerships for Health Advocacy”. The panelists were Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, AMM Master; Professor Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health; and Dr. Feisul Mustapha, Deputy Director of the Disease Control Division, Minisry of Health. The session was moderated by Dato’ Professor Dr. Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud, AMM Council Member and also a Professor at Faculty of Medicine, UM. The event closed with the launch of the Basic Surgical E-training Management Platform by the AMM and the College of Surgeons.
When asked why it is important for health care professionals (HCPs) to also be advocates, Tan Sri Jemilah answered, “Health professionals are among trusted individuals in any country or context. Our voice is important and being advocates will in many ways inform policy decisions and dialogues. We should never waste such an opportunity to influence positive change for better health outcomes.”
Dr. Rosmawati emphasised that, “A specialist, or health professionals in general, should view advocacy as an integral part of what they do, either individually or collectively, to influence change.”
Dr Feisul said, “Like any public health intervention, effective public health advocacy requires specific skillsets that can be developed and trained. If we want Malaysians to realise that the wider determinants of health have a bigger impact on the quality of life and health outcomes, then one of the key action points would be a stronger and more strategic public health advocacy. Clinical specialists, by virtue of their standing in the community, can be strong public health advocators for the country.”
Dr. Pascale added, “We don’t often think about health until we are unhealthy. But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the complexities of ensuring health into sharp focus. Maintaining health requires engaging directly with the population, with government, and with a myriad of actors that influence health. We need to be confident enough to step outside out comfort zones, humble enough to recognize that medicine is not the only expertise, and passionate enough to shift our ways of working to address the health needs of all.”
The AMM and Faculty of Medicine, UM hope that this scientific event is only the first step toward a deep undertaking into HCP-led health advocacy.
Released on 23 August 2020.