Sunway gets planetary health centre

THE newly set-up Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, with Malaysian senior health and humanitarian expert Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood (pic) appointed as executive director, will address the causes and consequences of human health and environmental change in Malaysia.

The centre’s aim is to provide a space to share knowledge about planetary health, translating academic discourse into easily accessible information, facilitating learning, and creating solutions together with a broad range of stakeholders to effect lasting systemic change.

Focused on achieving the highest attainable standards of health, well-being and equity worldwide, within safe environmental limits, the planetary health approach is an integrated way of improving our relationship with planet earth, Sunway said in a press release dated Sept 20.

Sunway University Foundation chancellor Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah said the varsity, through the centre, will contribute to the advancement of planetary health through education, research, making knowledge accessible, and engaging with people from across the Asia and Pacific regions, and bring our knowledge and expertise to the world.

“Sunway is one of the fastest growing and most innovative universities in the world. We are making this important investment as we aspire to become the world’s first planetary health-oriented university,” he said.

Planetary health, said Sunway University president Prof Sibrandes Poppema, is the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends.

This powerful concept emphasises that in order to advance humanity’s well-being, the declining state of planet earth can no longer be ignored, he added.

Dr Jemilah said the centre will leverage the diverse capacities of Sunway University’s existing faculties and networks, and will forge new connections with partners from the region and around the world.

“In its inaugural phase, the centre will focus on Asia and the Pacific – regions which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other planetary health challenges.

“We will also engage with the government and institutions in Malaysia so that planetary health approaches can support the prevention of the next pandemic, help to address the climate crisis, and contribute to the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and a sustainable economy,” she said.

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