Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH)
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.
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.
[SCOPH x SCORP] Contagion: Control or Compassion?': Balancing Ethics and Public Health
This event was inspired by controversy surrounding the public rights and ethics debate about Covid-19 policies. The one-time event aimed to educate medical and allied health students on the ethical and human rights considerations regarding public health policy when facing epidemics.
Participants first listened to introductory presentations by both SCOPH and SCORP on their perspectives on the topic, followed by a keynote presentation by Professor Hung Fan Ngai, Ivan, the Chief in Division of Infectious Diseases and a member of the COVID-19 Expert Advisory Panel and COVID-19 Vaccines Advisory Panel of the HKSAR. The presentation included an introduction to public health policy-making during disease outbreaks, vaccine bioethics, and Professor Hung’s experience on the expert advisory panel for COVID-19.
Participants then engaged in discussions from the perspective of different
stakeholders (e.g. governments, NGOs, neighbouring countries, and media) based on a hypothetical disease outbreak scenario. The case had 2 sections, followed by 2 emergency scenarios to simulate the unpredictability and quick thinking needed following an outbreak. Finally, participants shared their stakeholder’s perspectives and discussed ethical considerations in implementing public health policies.
[AMSAHK SCOPH x AP Regional Collaboration] COVID responses across the Asia-Pacific
The COVID-19 pandemic affected all countries worldwide. However, as each country has its unique situation, different countries face diverse challenges of varying degrees of impact. With different challenges that need to be overcome, the public health policies and the measures taken to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic will also differ for each country. Taking into consideration the increasing importance of global health in this interconnected world, especially at times of a pandemic, this sharing facilitated exchanges and deepened understandings of various NMO’s and each other country’s COVID responses across the Asia pacific region. With AMSAHK’s SCOPH leading the presentation, followed by representatives from SMMAMS Malaysia, FMS Taiwan, AMSA Singapore, AMSA Philippines and AMSA Australia, all participating NMOs exchanged ideas and insights on how their country’s COVID situation and their differing responses to those unique challenges. This is followed by a short discussion session where NMOs each evaluated T different policies and their effectiveness.
[SCOPH x SCOME] Challenges and Opportunities in Transborder Health Issues: Public Health Workshop for the Next Generation
The event was a collaboration event themed around tobacco control, hosted by SCOPH and SCOME. This event was inspired by the fact that Hong Kong's smoking prevalence fell from 10.2% in 2019 to 9.5% in 2021, yet the number of citizens who vape increased significantly from 7,200 in 2019 to 17,500 in 2021. The Council on Smoking and Health proposed creating a ‘smoke-free generation’ by the end of 2027 and proposed banning residents born in 2009 or after from buying cigarettes. Smoking causes cancer and heart and lung diseases, whereas smoking cessation can improve health status and quality of life, preventing premature deaths.
During the event, participants first listened to an introductory presentation by SCOME and SCOPH on the rundown and aims of the programme. This was followed by a presentation by Emeritus Professor Lam Tai Hing, one of the world's leading scientists and advocates on tobacco control. The presentation included an overview of tobacco control in Hong Kong, the harmful effects of smoking, as well as Professor Lam’s experience in tobacco control research, campaigns and advocacy. Participants then participated in interactive workshops. To better understand the components of cigarettes, participants matched chemicals present in cigarettes with commonly known products that also contain these same chemicals. Participants also gained insight into the health effects of tobacco use through a straw simulation activity and the game of life that simulates the impact of smoking or vaping through the life course of a smoker or vaper. After learning about smoking and its harmful impacts, participants were put into groups for the advocacy competition where they were required to come up with a 5-8 minute presentation for other secondary school students to advocate for a reduction in smoking or vaping rates. The presentation was judged by SCOPH and SCOME members, where prizes were awarded to groups with the most creative and impactful project.
Public Health Workshop for the Next Generation
Hong Kong is ranked last on Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in early 2022, indicating COVID-19 policies caused major social and economic disruption. Due to the cessation of extracurriculars, secondary school students and aspiring medics lack a platform to discuss the impact of the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery. Additionally, there is still a gap between the pandemic and post pandemic times as we enter the post-pandemic period. This transition period might be difficult for some groups of people, and the problems they face might often be overlooked by the public. Public Health for the Next Generation aims to educate and raise awareness on the vulnerabilities during this time, while also allowing secondary students to learn from existing medical students and exchange
ideas on contemporary public health issues.
The event started with a presentation on the impact of the pandemic on mental health, followed by an interactive Kahoot quiz. Afterwards, there was a presentation on how health inequity was exacerbated during the pandemic. Students discussed on a hypothetical case centred around the infodemic and vaccine inequity. Discussion questions included how socioeconomic determinants affect equity, how misinformation affects high- and low-income countries, and how resource allocation can be made equitable under constrained circumstances. The last workshop included a telemedicine presentation and demonstration of the local telemedicine application “HA Go”.
Organ Donation Ambassadors
Organ transplantation is a life-saving intervention for patients with organ failure. Hong Kong has an opt-in system, where individuals who wish to donate their organs must register in the Centralised Organ Donation Register (CODR). Organ donation rates in Hong Kong in 2020 were among the lowest globally (5.6 per million). Concurrently, there are more than 2,000 patients on the waitlist, with some waiting up to 29 years; many patients pass away while waiting. Worse still, the number of withdrawal applications from the CODR has been increasing since 2018, with a recent spike of 2,880 withdrawals in early 2023.
For five days, three promotional booths were set up across university campuses. In collaboration with the Department of Health and the Eye Bank Coordinators, officials helped the public register under the CODR and promote eye tissue donation. AMSAHK designed stickers, a photo booth, and an Instagram filter with promotional slogans. Individuals posted using the filter at our photo booth to raise awareness on social media, and the stickers were a popular souvenir. We recorded 355 new CODR registrations and over 600 interactions on social media.
Participants of the 2-day event on organ donation gained an overview of organ donation in HK from Dr. Chau Ka-foon (Honorary President of the Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association), and learned about transplant surgery from Professor Chan See-ching (Vice President of the Hong Kong Organ Transplant Foundation). Participants also interviewed organ recipients, donor families, doctors, and nurses to understand the impact of organ donation. Participants wrote articles and reflections after the interview, which are to be published in a booklet and shared with the public to further promote organ donation.
On the second day, the Eye Bank staff explained the eye tissue donation process and participants observed how eye tissues were stored at the Eye Bank. The Hospital Authority Organ Donation Coordinators discussed their role in organ donation, and Dr. Samuel Fung presented on Hong Kong's organ donation system, how it differed from other countries, and shared insights from his experience in organ donation. Data from pre- and post-evaluation forms showed over 90% of participants felt more confident and were committed to promoting organ donation as ambassadors after the event.
The Instagram campaign featured interactive trivia, an Instagram filter, and educational posts on AMSAHK and SCOPH AMSAHK's Instagram pages. The most popular post reached over 1,558 accounts, with a 15% engagement rate.
Global Health Trainings (GHT), Global Health Subsidiary, AMSA-I
SCOPH AMSAHK is a subsidiary of the Global Health section of AMSA-International. As such, we have participated in multiple events, such as the Global Health Trainings. These are recurrent events aimed at increasing participants’ knowledge regarding and capability in tackling global health issues like antimicrobial resistance, as well as developing other skills like giving speeches and organising advocacy campaigns. The OC for these GHTs are comprised of the NDoPGHs of different subsidiaries of AMSA-I, including the Directors on Public Health in SCOPH AMSAHK in this international team.