The COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world in 2019 served as a lesson for many countries in the health field. As the chair of ASEAN in 2023, Indonesia is responsible for leading the development direction for Southeast Asian countries.
This time, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), in collaboration with Padjadjaran University (Unpad), held the “ASEAN Higher Education Conference (AHEC) 2023: Post COVID Sustainable Health and Industry,” a discussion on post-COVID-19 health development issues on Wednesday (9/8).
Universities were chosen as one of the driving units for change due to their strategic role in generating technological advancements, scientific research, and a workforce in the health field.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with many experiences dealing with the rapid and accurate handling of deadly diseases. We will never know what could happen in the future,” said the Rector of UGM, Professor Ova Emilia, MD.
“Therefore, it is important for universities to conduct research, particularly to develop strategies that can better prepare us to face health challenges in the future.”
Professor Emilia added that an important step is to produce multidisciplinary and integrated research across fields.
“Handling this pandemic cannot be limited to just one field. It must be addressed appropriately and integrated with other areas. Because besides the health field, pandemic management also requires prepared infrastructure supported by the government, “ she added.
“This fact is evident from the conditions we faced yesterday, where there was not only a shortage of medical personnel but also a lack of isolation facilities for patients.”
In line with the UGM Rector, Malaysia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Zalifa Binti Mustafa, conveyed how actions should be taken after the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has killed at least 6.9 million lives worldwide until the vaccine was discovered and the pandemic began to recede. Cooperation between the health, community, and economic sectors determines pandemic management,” Dr. Zalifa explained.
“This also proves how every step will have consequences in all fields. Of course, ASEAN must prioritize the development of public health through collaboration and support from all parties,”
The pandemic came unexpectedly for everyone, requiring prompt and proper handling. This is what makes every decision has a significant impact.
According to the Dean of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Professor Chong Yap Sen, at least three things can be learned from pandemic management.
“First, humans are adaptable creatures, and all problems can be solved with various probabilities, even the unexpected ones. Second, controlling the spread of information is crucial; how we separate opinions from facts. Third, critical thinking is essential. Science must be the main axis in decision-making,” said the dean.
The meeting attended by ASEAN member state representatives provided new perspectives on post-pandemic public health development strategies. Support and cooperation from various parties are needed to prepare for all possibilities. The hope is that these steps can be a savior when crises occur again.