February 2017 | Issue 28
Climate change and medicine – what we learnt at the East Asian Medical Student Conference




By Harish Sree, Class of 2020


From 9 to 13 January, together with two Year 1 juniors, Clara Apollos and Mathilda Lam, I attended the East Asian Medical Student Conference 2017 in Melbourne, Australia, as a part of a delegation of nine students representing the Asian Medical Students Association – Singapore (AMSA-SG) Chapter.


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Singaporean cultural booth

The theme of the conference was climate change in medicine. It saw more than 400 delegates from 14 different countries come together to discuss and learn how the problems associated with climate change affect medicine and healthcare.

I was particularly engaged by the keynote speech given by Dr Forbes McGain. Dr McGain who is a part of Doctors for Environment Australia talked about environmental sustainability in hospitals, not something we naturally think about when delivering high quality healthcare. To many, these may even be mutually exclusive. But during his keynote address, Dr McGain talked about how we don't have to compromise on safety in making our delivery of healthcare environmentally sustainable. Infrastructural and process based changes can be made to bring about profound improvements in making our hospitals greener.

Not only were we engaged by Australian doctors at the forefront of climate change medicine, we also had the opportunity to forge friendships with the international delegates from the various countries.

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L-R: Me (centre) taking a wefie with my conference group; winners of the public health video competition from Singapore

The conference also has an academic competition for best public health video on the impact of climate change on medicine. Mathilda and Clara joined forces with fellow Singaporean delegates Christabelle Tee and Ng Xi Tian from NUS’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine to create a video which focuses on the effects of climate change on mosquito-borne diseases like dengue. Their video won the praise of many delegates for being both aesthetically appealing and informative.

As well as being a hit with delegates, their efforts paid off as the team clinched first place in the competition coming ahead of teams from 12 other countries, bringing much pride to our tiny red dot.