RDG Conference Report of Lourdes M. Portus

Write up about the Conference

The 2014 APRU Global Health Workshop was well attended by representatives from about 22 member-countries of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). The conference consisted of a pre-conference workshop, a keynote speech, four working groups, three special plenary presentations and ten concurrent panel presentations.

There were more than 300 participants from around 20 countries. There were around 10 Filipino delegates coming from UP (Diliman, Manila and Open U), St. Louis University in Baguio, Cavite State University and University of The East.

A competition for student poster presentations was mounted and adjudged prior to the conference proper. Students from the Our Lady of Fatima University won the third place. The first and second places went to the National Taiwan University and Asia University, respectively.

The  special plenary sessions were very informative and reflected the tremendous research done in the area of health ranging from environmental health, air pollution diet, trade and health, nanotechnology in health, health and labor, human trafficking, maternal and child health and medical education. I was one of speakers in a special plenary session in health systems.

The parallel sessions were similarly interesting. There were 10 parallel or concurrent sessions. The third day was devoted to strategic planning discussions, the next steps for APRU and synthesis of the conference. A tour of Taipei was organized on the last.

Feedback on paper presented

I presented my research, “Experiencing AH1N1: Health Risk Communication System in the Philippines” on Sept. 26, 2014 in a Plenary Session. Since there were five speakers and the session was only given one hour, all speakers were constrained to do their presentations in less that 15 minutes. There was very little time for open forum.

However, after the session, several participants approached me and asked for the copy of my paper and contact information (calling card). Specifically, Dr. Mu Li of the University of Sydney, who is also into mobile communication, discussed with me the importance of my paper. She said what permeates health problems redound to the lack of communication. My study will reinforce this and will further highlight the relevance of mobile phones in health communication.

Future directions of research presented

The study, Experiencing AH1N1 is part of a bigger study on Communicating Health. This stem from the UP Diliman, College of Mass Communication, Communication Research Department’s offering of a Health Communication course wherein I will be one of the lecturers. This current study will be included in the reservoir of past and future studies on health communication to form a data set that will be used in teaching.

Moving on from this study, another health communication research has been recently done. The issue on the promotion of health seeking behavior of TB patients has been problematized in this recently completed study. Another study is in the pipeline and it is about health empowerment.

All of these studies will contribute to the issues being discussed in the APRU Global Health Program.

Potential foreign collaborators

All the participants in the Workshop are potential collaborators, specifically, Dr Mu Li of the University of Sydney.

Most promising too is the continuing email exchanges with Dr. Melissa Withers, the Program Manager of the APRU Global Health Program.

She has been emailing about the other activities of APRU in connection with promoting Health. She will make announcement on the next annual APRU Global health Workshop in 2015, which will be held tentatively in Australia.

Other important contacts and insights

The issue of health has grown worldwide and affects rich and poor countries alike. The issue is not only biological but social and cultural in nature. My discipline-communication-has role to play in the promotion of healthy lifestyle, relationship between health workers and patients, understanding of the health  problem, campaigns for health-related programs, advocacy for a healthy environment and dissemination of studies that will bring to light some health issues.

Short write-up of one’s participation (to be used to feature/publicize the grantee’s participation in the conference)

The pre-conference session that I attended was very relevant because it was a participatory workshop that aimed to get feedback on the experiences of participants in their Global Health Practicum. The small group sessions afforded us participants to share our best practices in health practicum. I shared my experience in implementing health programs in four communities of Laguna. To me, this  looked like a consultation of sorts, taking into consideration the contexts of those who are implementing a practicum program in health.

Their special plenary were very informative and reflected the tremendous research done in the area of health, particularly health systems and health education. I was one of speakers in a special plenary sessions in health systems.

Meanwhile, the parallel sessions tackled health issues raging from environmental health, air pollution diet, trade and health, nanotechnology in health, health and labor, human trafficking, maternal and child health and medical education.

Of the 10 parallel sessions, I was able to attend and participate in three sessions, (the maternal and child health, infections diseases and health education) as the other sessions I missed were simultaneously held.

During the strategic planning discussions and conference synthesis, I feedback to the organizers the limited time give to the presenters to discuss their research findings. I emphasized that participants spend months even years to finish their research and travel several miles to reach the conference venue and to be given only 10 to 15 minutes to present the research paper does not do justice to the work done. 

Several recommendations from the participants were later listed. These were mostly comments on how to improve the methods and procedures of the workshops as well as suggestion to expand some topics or add more areas for study. I suggested including the negative effects of accumulating electronic wastes dumped in landfills and affecting the water system and the environment in general. This stemmed from my continuing research on mobile phone technology, which includes, among others, how the old cellphones are disposed off and thrown as wastes in various ways. 

Over-all the Conference was worth attending.