East Asian Medical Student’ Conference (EAMSC) was held in Singapore on 20th - 25th January, 2024. In every EAMSC, the hosting country will hold an academic conference for students from different countries to showcase their research in areas relating to the conference theme. This year, the theme of the conference is is Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
As defined by CEA Winslow, public health is “The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.”
These traits are also evident in the practice of preventive medicine, where various factors impacting health are identified and analysed to inform the development and implementation of health policies, with the aim to improve healthcare outcomes. Public health and preventive medicine cover a wide range of topics, such as communicating information, creating policies to address diseases that are present in a population, and improving accessibility and equity in the provision of health services.
Both preventive medicine and public health work to eliminate disease and promote wellbeing. Working with populations instead of individual patients, they result in interventions that can impact the lives and improve the health of many. In the past few years, public health efforts have achieved tremendous success in improving people’s lives across the globe in various areas, ranging from reducing child mortality and improving access to safe water and sanitation, to controlling potentially debilitating diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, public health and preventive medicine have once again come into the spotlight, with many nations re-adopting measures such as handwashing and countries initiating measures such as social distancing. However, while such public health measures aimed to curb the rapid transmission of the virus, reduce mortality, and protect people’s livelihoods, many unintended consequences have also arisen, including widening income gaps, disruptions to education, and decreased quality of mental health. The pandemic has shown how public health measures intersected with different aspects of people’s lives, as well as the potential for such measures to deepen pre-existing socio-economic issues.
Many public health challenges will no doubt arise in the coming years. This includes the increasing prevalence of diseases such as chronic respiratory disease, heart attacks, and stroke due to air pollution and global warming. Another significant area of concern would be changes in population demographics, where many countries currently or are about to face an unprecedented surge in non-communicable diseases or health conditions associated with ageing, which could overwhelm health and social care systems in the future.
With these in mind, it is critical to be able to adjust the way we address health issues in the population and modify the way public health information is disseminated. Overall, it is important to appreciate the significance as well as the vast scale of public health and preventive medicine, which we hope to achieve through our conference subthemes.-