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Inaugural International Asian Health Conference

4 October 2004

The Inaugural International Asian Health Conference

The population of Asian New Zealanders is increasing faster than that of any other ethnic group in the country, yet there is still a lack of understanding concerning their health issues.

The University of Auckland’s School of Population Health (part of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences) is planning to address this knowledge gap by holding New Zealand’s first International Asian Health Conference on November 4 and 5 2004. Minister of Education Hon Trevor Mallard will give the Conference opening address.

“Asians contribute positively to economic development in New Zealand, but the absence of reliable data about their state of health is a cause for worry. Asian mortality rates among those aged 25 to 64 are comparable to those for Maori and Pacific peoples – and it is important that we find out why. We need to conduct research into their lifestyles, eating habits, working life and other factors that affect health,” says Faculty Dean Professor Peter Smith.

“The Conference and our Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation will provide a platform for exchanging and strengthening knowledge about Asian health issues.

“The two-day event will be particularly valuable for practitioners, researchers, policy makers and funders in government and private sectors. We hope that the Conference will increase the capacity for communities and services to face the challenges posed by future changes in the Asia Pacific region,” says Professor Smith.

Conference Convenor, Dr Samson Tse says New Zealand’s Asian population has diverse languages, cultures and health needs.

“Their key health issues are road and water safety, domestic violence, mental health, problem gambling, barriers to health care, strokes and cancer.

“About 65% of Asians live in the wider Auckland area and nearly one in five people in Auckland City identify themselves as Asian. It is of high importance that we recognise these issues and develop research-based strategies for dealing with them,” says Dr Tse.

A highlight of the Conference will be the attendance of several senior staff from the prestigious Peking University in Beijing, as part of an exchange programme with The University of Auckland.

Professor Yang Ke from Peking University will be among the Conference’s keynote speakers, who also include Professor Robyn Norton, Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, Mr Shun Au and Dr Albert Persaud.

Professor Yang Ke is Vice President of Peking University’s Health Science Center and Vice Director at the School of Oncology’s Institute for Cancer Research, Peking University. Professor Ke is focused on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors and will be speaking about “Health status and cancer research in China”.
Professor Robyn Norton of Australia is a Professor at the University of Sydney and Honorary Professor of Peking University Health Science Center. She also chairs the Road Traffic Injuries Research Network of the Global Forum for Health Research, and the Research Committee of Australasian Trauma Society. Dr Norton’s address is “Responding to the growing burden of injuries in the Asian region”.

Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, of England, is Professor of Epidemiology and Cultural Psychiatry at the University of London. He has conducted research on migration and refugee mental healthcare, work environments and mental health. His expertise is in epidemiology and anthropology and the interface between these two disciplines. Professor Bhui will be speaking about Racial & ethnic discrimination and mental health.

Mr Shun Au, from England, is the founder and chairman of Chinese Mental Health Association and is at the forefront of providing mental health services for the Chinese community in England. He is part of the current team investigating the efficiency of acupuncture for treating mild to moderate depression. Au will be speaking about Traditional Chinese medicines and mental health.

Dr Albert Persaud, also from England, is the Senior Policy Advisor of the Department of Health and is one of the principle architects of the UK’s National Strategy for Black and Ethnic Minority Mental Health. As a member of the National Institute for Mental Health in England, Dr Persaud will be speaking about Recent policy approaches.

In addition to these keynote speakers, University of Auckland staff and doctoral students will also present papers at the Conference. The topics they will cover range from ‘Psychological Well-being of Asian Students in New Zealand’ to ‘Trends and Ethnic Disparities in the Incidence of Strokes in Auckland, New Zealand’.

Conference sponsorship support has been provided by the Asia 2000 Foundation, Health Research Council, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Social Policy Evaluation and Research (SPEAR), The Office of Ethnic Affairs, and Waitemata District Health Board. Details about the Conference can be found at: http://www.asianhealth.auckland.ac.nz

Media are welcome to attend the Conference which will be held at:

The School of Population Health University of Auckland Tamaki Campus Morrin Rd Glen Innes November 4 – 5

ENDS

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