Penangite made Professor of Global Health by Oxford, does M’sia proud

GEORGE TOWN: A Penangite has made the country proud after she was conferred the title of Professor of Global Health by the University of Oxford.

Dr Cheah Phaik Yeong, 47, was bestowed the title by the varsity’s vice-chancellor Prof Louise Richardson on Tuesday (Dec 7).

As professor of global health, she will lead research relating to the health of populations in the worldwide context.

“The priority of global health research is improving health and well-being, as well as equity in health for all people worldwide,” she explained.

Prof Cheah now heads the Bioethics and Engagement Department at Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand.

“My advice to young women, including Malaysians – work hard and dream big; don’t let being a woman or being Malaysian, or anything stand in the way,” she said.

She takes pride in the fact that people she meets around the world know Malaysia.

“If they have been to Malaysia, they love telling me that, and that they love the food,” she said.

She said she has many research projects going on now and recently finished an international study on Covid-19.

Titled “Economic and social impacts of Covid-19 and public health measures: Results from an anonymous online survey in Thailand, Malaysia, the UK, Italy and Slovenia”, this research paper can now be read online.

Prof Cheah expressed her worry for how Covid-19 preventive measures had taken a toll on humanity, economically and socially.

“The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities. The world can only overcome it if all of us take this into account.

“Covid-19 and public health measures have uneven economic and social impact on people from different countries and social groups,” she explained.

She stressed that governments need to understand these impacts in future public health interventions and mitigate their negative consequences.

She said the world at large must show solidarity with communities who are having a hard time such as those in poorer countries with no access to vaccines, with marginalised groups, with those who cannot work from home, with those living in crowded conditions and have underlying medical problems.