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PUBLIC HEALTH IS FAST-CHANGING.
The sanitation revolution in the 19th century curtailed the burdensome infectious diseases plaguing populations the world over. During the 20th century, as countries developed and populations became more affluent, life expectancy grew and with it the burden of chronic diseases.
Today, the world is become increasingly vulnerable to the public health challenges and risks associated with the ever-growing burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, amidst a rapidly greying global population. The ever-present threat of existing and emerging infectious diseases is only further compounded by the rising problem of drug resistance. Public health problems are no longer limited by nation or region. These are global problems which call for the cooperation and collaboration of public healthcare professionals as well as governments and relevant agencies from around the world.
There is an urgent need to seek innovative, transformative solutions to effectively impact public health responses, policies and programmes as well as services to not merely keep pace with, but stay ahead of these challenges. The research we do at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public in areas including, total workplace safety and health, new approaches to disease burden projections, diabetes, cancer, myopia, and pharmacogenomics are conducted with this objective in mind.
The Chinese word for ‘crisis’(危机)is composed of two Chinese characters signifying ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ respectively. Every crisis presents in itself the opportunity for change and improvement. Recognising that the public health challenges we face today are the result of the combination of biological, behavioural, environmental, social and systems-level factors, we need to cast the net wider in terms of our individual capacity and the partnerships we form, going beyond our traditional and foundational strengths in epidemiology and biostatistics. At the School, we encourage faculty and students to work alongside colleagues in different areas of expertise including, the burgeoning new frontiers of health systems, health promotion and behavioural sciences, both within and outside of the School to facilitate the bridging of perspectives and integration of knowledge to develop novel translation-focused solutions. Such is the outlook adopted across the School’s research and education strategies.
We have made significant headway since the founding of the School in October 2011. But improving population health outcomes is an ongoing battle with no “end goal” in sight. And we are well prepared take on the challenges drawing on the School’s over 60 years of heritage (starting out as the Department of Social Medicine and Public Health in 1948) and the commitment of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners. As we embark on the School’s next stage of growth and development, I invite you to join us on the road ahead turning discovery into healthier communities.
Professor Chia Kee Seng, MBBS (1981); MSc (OM) (1985); MD (SoM) 1995
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health