UK Deputy High Commissioner inaugurates University of Leeds and JGU Conference on public health

Galgotias Ad

Sonipat, Feb 17 (IANS) The University of Leeds (UK) and O. P. Jindal Global University (JGU) hosted a joint conference titled ‘Reimagining Priorities in Global Public Health’ recently.

The opening day of the conference was inaugurated by Christina Scott, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Delhi and Dr Himangi Bhardwaj, Senior Health Advisor to Foreign Commonwealth Development Office of the UK government.

They provided an overview of collaborations and project between the UK and India focusing on health, with special reference to antimicrobial resistance, digital heal health system strengthening and climate change. Leya Furtado, representing the Lancet Citizen’s Commission on Reimagining India’s Public Health System, outlined the challenges to global health post-pandemic, and reviewed the work streams and research areas of the Lancet Commission and the reforms to be proposed in its final report.

The event was being hosted by the Jindal School of Public Health and Human Development (JSPH), JGU’s recently established interdisciplinary school offering a Masters in Public Health, in collaboration with three faculties of the University of Leeds, namely the Faculty of Medicine and Health, the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Culture and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The Founding Vice Chancellor of JGU, Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, described this conference as “an extraordinary opportunity both to strengthen collaboration between higher education institutions in the UK and India for enhanced research and innovation but also to address the urgent need to move forward on the commitments of India and other governments to meet the global challenges in public health. We are ready to build on this collaboration with the University of Leeds as an exemplary institutional partnership to develop skills and knowledge, seeking solutions to critical global challenges through high quality research, teaching, and learning.”

Following the inauguration, Prof Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Head of School of History, University of Leeds spoke about the historical lessons from infectious disease control for the response to the COVID 19 pandemic. The conference then explored new approaches to equitable access to health, including a presentation on pandemic preparedness and religious practices by Prof. Emma Tomalin, Director of the Centre for Religion and Public Life at Leeds.

Professor Indranil Mukhopadhyay from the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy examined what he called “fragmented health financing and a broken health system,” noting high out-of-pocket expenditures and the low level of public health expenditure in India, compared, for example, with China.

Prof. Dibyadyuti Roy, Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies, Media Studies, and Digital Humanities at Leeds, discussed pathways, possibilities, and perils of digital (health) humanities from a historical perspective.

Prof. Sonia Kumar, Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Professor of Medical Education at Leeds, spoke online about the challenges to the healthcare workforce, including the fact that 90% of healthcare delivery is primary care and that a similar percentage of health outcomes are the result of the social determinants of health.

The second day of the Conference took place on the JGU campus in Sonipat, Haryana, and brought together scholars, experts and students from the two institutions for an exchange of research in strategic areas of interdisciplinary research in public health.

The session began with a presentation on climate change by Prof. Papiya Mazumdar from the School of Politics and International Studies at Leeds. She explored the interface between climate change, environment, and population health outcomes, drawing attention to ecosyndemic frameworks and models, as well as the need for ontological plurality to address the society-nature dynamics compounding health risks.

Drawing on his case study of Char areas of Assam, Dr Abdul Kalam Azad, of the Jindal School of Public Health and Human Development, examined the mental health impact of climate change on women living in the area and the insights from his transdisciplinary research project. Prof. Stuart Flint from the School of Psychology at Leeds introduced the subconscious factors that influence behaviours through the example of the pervasiveness, impact and implications of weight stigma. Dr Sambuddha Chaudhuri of the Jindal School of Public Health and Human Development made a presentation on the opportunities and challenges of AI in Public Health.

Dr Tatjana Kochetkova, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School and co-founder of a new research cluster on Bioethics, Biotechnology and Justice, explored the controversies surrounding numerous technological developments that affect the human condition, whether it is new approaches to end of life, genetic modification, cyborgs, and numerous other experimental and available technologies that affect human will, autonomy, openness, playfulness, creativity and other traits that some feel are threatened by technologies aimed at human enhancement but that contain serious risks.

The final session of the conference focused on moving from theory to practice with a presentation by Dr Rebecca King, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Leeds, who shared her research on community engagement to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Drawing on the proposed publication in process based on a conference JGU organized in mid-2023 on ‘From Marginalisation to Empowerment: Challenges and Opportunities for India’s Adivasi and Scheduled Tribes’, Prof. Stephen Marks and Prof. Sneha Krishnan, Jindal School of Public Health and Human Development, and Prof. Kriti Sharma, Jindal Global Law School, provided an overview of the health needs of Indigenous Peoples globally and the specific issues facing Scheduled Tribes, Adivasis and tribal peoples in India, including original research being conducted in tribal areas and the value of hearing voices from the affected populations in the publication and in public policy relating to health issues affecting this population. Prof. Mahua Das, of the School of Medicine, University of Leeds, spoke on prevention and care of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in urban poor settings.

Dr Piruthivi Sukumar, ProDean International, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds, stated that “the University of Leeds is excited to co-organise this pioneering event with our strategic institutional partner Jindal Global University to bring multidisciplinary expertise in ‘Global Health’ onto a single platform to share and discuss the vision for attaining better and equitable health for the world. Leeds is proud to be at the forefront of realising the ‘2030 roadmap of building deeper bilateral relationship’ set out by our leaderships.”

He welcomed these “three days of interesting, enriching, and enlightening discussions and debates that we are sure will shape multiple facets of future health systems and delivery not just for UK and India, but for the whole world.”



Comments are closed.