The Global Public Health Week webinar of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) hosted by its Asia-Pacific Liaison Office, organized by the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association (CPMA) and the China Association for Science and Technology, the UN Consultative Committee on Life Sciences and Human Health (CCLH), was held online in the afternoon of 3 April, 2023. Liang Xiaofeng (Vice President of CPMA, Governing Council member of the WFPHA, Dean of the Institute of Disease Control and Prevention of Jinan University, and Vice Chairman of the Health Committee), and Li Quanle (former second-level inspector of the Department of Planning and Information of the National Health Commission of China), presided over the webinar.
Luis Eugenio de Souza, President of the WFPHA, said in his speech that under the influence of global climate issues, infectious diseases, chronic diseases and other factors, the impact of health problems had further intensified. It is hoped that the public health departments of all countries in the world will work together to strengthen the construction of the public health system and prepare for the (next) pandemic.
Feng Zijian (Vice President and Secretary General of CPMA, Director of the Asia-Pacific Liaison Office of WFPHA, and Secretary General of the Health Committee), said in his speech that a strong public health system must not only respond to pandemics effectively and maintain health security but also take measures of disease prevention &control and health promotion, in order to improve the health of all and promote the equity of medical and health services. “We must cherish and make full use of the legacy left to us by the pandemic and accelerate the construction of a high-quality public health system”.
Kevin Fenton, President of the Faculty of Public Health (UK), shared the inequities in health care in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed out that the UK is now gradually emerging from the pandemic. It is necessary to fully learn from the experience and lessons of the pandemic, promote cross-field and cross-department linkages, build a diverse work team, and expand partnerships comprehensively, thereby promoting the equity and accessibility of public health services.
Mitsuo Isono, Senior Advisor of Japan International Cooperation Agency, introduced the reform of Japan's regional health service system. Japan's Medical Care Act has introduced requirements for reception hospitals, fever clinics and elderly care institutions of new infectious diseases, and relaxed restrictions on telemedicine regulations. During the pandemic, the two major problems facing Japan are limited testing capacity and insufficient capacity for receiving patients.
Jaya Dantas (Director of the International Department of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of International Health, School of Population Health, Curtin University Australia), believes that digitalization has brought new changes to the management, decision-making and development of public health. During the pandemic, Australia carried out effective population monitoring, close contact tracking, intervention evaluations, and population flow data analysis through large-scale online data and networked devices. In the future, it is hoped that telemedicine, mobile medicine, online medicine and other methods will further enhance the ability to respond to the pandemic.
Michael Baker, Professor of the University of Otago's Department of Public Health in New Zealand, explained why "elimination" should be a global strategy in the pandemic response. He believes that the pandemic caused by respiratory infections can be eliminated; this response strategy is twofold which includes elimination at the source and the development of key interventions to delay transmission; countries should provide a variety of interventions to form synergies in neighboring countries or regions; WHO should develop response strategies for all Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs) in accordance with the International Health Regulations; where feasible, elimination should be regarded as the default strategy for high-burden infectious diseases.
Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, introduced the lessons learned from the pandemic and summarized five key measures to deal with future pandemics, including border control, vaccination, material reserves, legal framework and scientific decision-making.
Thang Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief of the Vietnam Journal of Public Health, shared Vietnam's experiences and lessons in dealing with the pandemic. He pointed out that there should be clear guidelines for primary health care and standardized basic public health functions to establish an effective primary health system. It is necessary to emphasize the leading role of the government, but also strengthen the consulting and guiding roles of the health departments, and also pay attention to the feedbacks from lower levels.
Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, introduced the experience and lessons of the United States in the pandemic from the aspects of pathogenic surveillance capabilities, data and information capacity, science and risk communication, health inequality, and vaccination.
Shen Hongbing (Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Deputy Director of the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control, and Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control), made a keynote speech on the high-quality development of China's disease prevention and control system. Director Shen introduced the important role played by the disease control system during the pandemic’s response period and the challenges it faced, and shared the current progress of China's disease control system reform. In addition, he also proposed that it is necessary to focus on improving monitoring and early warning capabilities, improving epidemiological investigation &analysis and risk assessment capabilities, improving emergency response capabilities, improving laboratory testing capabilities, and enhancing regional medical and health big data management analysis reports and decision-making capabilities, strengthening scientific research capabilities and the capacity building of the CDC effectively.
Lifeng Zhou (Executive Council member and Chair of Asian Caucus of the New Zealand Public Health Association), Le Vu Anh (Chairman of the Vietnam Public Health Association), Wang Xiaoqi (Director, International Cooperation Office, China CDC), and Wang Xiaochun (Deputy Director, Management Committee Office, China AIDS Fund for Non-governmental Organizations, CPMA) joined the discussion session. Discussions were around topics of the lessons learned from the SARS-Cov2 pandemic and the major challenges faced by all the specific countries in building a strong public health system.
Participating experts at the webinar 2023
Finally, Liang Xiaofeng pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of public health. It is hoped that under the leadership of the World Federation of Public Health Association, public health departments and societies of all countries can continue to communicate and learn from each other and collaborate to build a community of human health.