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Public Health

Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH)

OUR VISION

With the motto “Think global. Act local.”, The Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) strives towards the promotion of public health for a healthier tomorrow by addressing health issues, suggesting public policies and advocating preventive measures locally and beyond.

OUR MISSION

The Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) serves as health advocate for our community by raising public awareness and understanding of prominent health concerns. Through community-based projects, we aim to promote the important message of public health amongst medical students, health professionals as well as the general public. SCOPH also places a strong emphasis on education and training of medical students in order to equip them with global vision in public health issues, hence become skilful health professionals of tomorrow.

Projects

“Nutrition” Social Media Campaign

Although nutrition is a topic that is often taught in school, there remain many myths and misconceptions around the topic. This issue is particularly prevalent in the era of social media, where unproven diets are often promoted amongst “influencers”. Research has shown that social media can be harmful to our mental state toward food, especially for people in younger age groups. This social media campaign aims to raise awareness of common nutrition facts and to allow viewers to make informed decisions about their own food choices.

 

The campaign was divided into three themes: eating disorders, social media diets and dieting culture, as well as obesity. The key facts and illustrations included in the infographics addressed the causes of unhealthy and disordered eating. SCOPH hopes that through these social media posts, readers will be equipped with the knowledge to improve their eating habits and maintain a healthy perspective on food and dieting.

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Understanding Eating Disorders - To Eat or Not to Eat

The Webinar is inspired by the increasingly prominent issue of mental health and eating disorders within our communities, especially linked to dieting culture and societal standards of beauty. SCOPH aimed to raise awareness on the prominent issue of eating disorders amongst young adults and to increase participants’ empathy towards those suffering from eating disorders. Participants were able to learn basic knowledge about the local trends in eating disorders, as well as steps to identify and help those who are suffering from such disorders.

 

This topic is particularly relevant as eating disorders and other mental health issues are often overlooked in Hong Kong, and campaigns to increase conversations surrounding eating disorders are few and far between. According to the Hong Kong Eating Disorder Centre at CUHK, over 80% of young people are afraid of being fat, thus suppressed diets or overexercising are omnipresent in society. We were honoured to invite Professor Joyce Ma from CUHK and Miss Daisy Wu from Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association to share their experiences treating patients with eating disorders. Participants learned how to communicate better with peers who may have disordered eating habits, and how to encourage them to seek help. There was also a focus on involving families in treatment to shift the overall societal attitude towards eating disorders.

AMSA International Summit Public Poster Competition - “Mental Health in an Unequal World”

This project was jointly coordinated by three Local Public Health Officers - Rachel, Doris and Valerie. The topic of the “Shadow Pandemic” was chosen, given the global increase in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) amidst the COVID-19 health crisis. The poster aimed to highlight the unequal attention and resource allocation against interests of minority groups, particularly IPV victims. Other than introducing the issue, the poster brings attention to the potential use of telemedicine as a cost-effective and innovative approach to IPV. The overarching message of the poster was a reminder to address mental well-being of marginalised individuals, particularly in view of the deepening inequalities brought by COVID-19.

 

The poster was entered into the Public Poster Competition during the inaugural AMSA International Summit, aligning with the summit theme of “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. The Summit aimed to take part in the worldwide campaign as part of the World Mental Health Day movement, encouraging participating students to promote issues surrounding mental health and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. We are also grateful to Dr Suen Yi-nam who shared her opinions on how communities and healthcare providers can improve the situation of IPV through an online interview.

Disaster Management 101 - Public Health Workshop for the Next Generation

Disaster management is not often discussed and has limited awareness within our community. Disasters are likely to increase in frequency and severity as we face the threat of climate change. The pandemic has also shown us that preparedness and a good response is crucial in saving lives in disaster situations. Due to the lack of awareness of this topic and the relevance of this topic to our community, this event aimed to inform the younger generation about disaster management. 

 

This activity was modelled on our flagship workshop – the Public Health Workshop for the Next Generation, where our target group is secondary school students with university students assisting us. In light of the worsening COVID-19 situation in February, the activity was held online. Through a 1-hour online webinar by Dr Kevin Hung, we introduced basic concepts of disaster preparedness and response to our participants. To stimulate interest in disaster risk management and explain the role of health administrators in the management of health-related emergencies among participants, we prepared stakeholder role-play sessions, with the help of facilitators. We also provided a disaster case scenario to encourage participants to apply the knowledge learnt through discussing methods to manage disaster risk within their group. 

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Global Health Masterclass and Trainings, Global Health Subsidiary, AMSA-I

Global Health Masterclass and Global Health Trainings were initiated by the Global Health Subsidiary, under AMSA-I. The Global Health Masterclass was held in October, which aims to better equip members in managing public health projects. While the Global Health Trainings consisted of 4 training sessions, which were held in December, February, April and June. The theme for this year is pandemic emergencies, which remains an important topic in global health. The training sessions put emphasis on international policy making as well as global health advocacy. It covers government policies regarding pandemic control and prevention, as well as the much-discussed topic of vaccination. AMSAHK SCOPH members were active members of the organising committee for the Global Health Masterclass and Global Health Training. We invited prominent international speakers, who provided valuable insight on public health from the perspective of other countries and cultures. In addition, we planned interactive online workshops and held policy competitions where participants had to present an innovative policy in response to a public health concern. We hope to increase our members’ understanding of international policies regarding the pandemic as well as to provide opportunities for our members to work with Asian medical students.

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