Past Events

9 March 2024 – Pandemics and Health Inequities – Looking Back and Moving Forward

8th Annual Public Lecture and the 3rd Dr Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health 2024
Pandemics and Health Inequities – Looking Back and Moving Forward
Awardee and keynote lecture by Professor Dato’ Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman

This event is supported by Dato’ Seri Cheah Cheng Hye.

Date: 9th March 2024, Saturday
Time: 2:00 – 5:00pm
Venue: Penang Institute, 10 Brown Road, 10350 George Town
Organisers: The Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society and Penang Institute

The Speaker
Professor Adeeba Kamarulzaman is the President & Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia. Prior to this appointment, she was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya and continues as an Honorary Professor at UM and as Adjunct Associate Professor at Yale University, USA.
An infectious diseases physician by training, Professor Kamarulzaman is a passionate advocate for social justice especially as it pertains to HIV prevention, treatment and care and drug policies. She presently serves as the Chairman of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and is the immediate Past President of the International AIDS Society. She is also the founding Chair of ROSE Foundation, an organisation that is committed to eliminating cervical cancer in Malaysia and regionally.

At the international level, Professor Kamarulzaman has been an advisor to numerous WHO, UNAIDS and UNODC committees on HIV/AIDS and substance use. She is presently Vice Chair of WHO’s Science Council and is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Global Council on Inequalities, HIV and Pandemics. Her achievements have been recognised through several national and international awards including as a two-time recipient of the prestigious Merdeka Award and recently as Tokoh Akademik Negara. In April 2015 she was honoured with a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from her alma mater, Monash University for her role as a health advocate and contributions to medicine.

The COVID 19 pandemic laid bare the impact of societal issues such as income, type of employment and even political affiliation on the outcome of the disease. While the public health-driven COVID-19-related restrictions affected everyone, it quickly became clear that the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic were not equally shared, with numerous studies showing different case rates between lower income and higher income populations. At the global level, the inequities associated with the COVID 19 vaccine distribution may have cost more than one million lives.

The Spanish flu and the HIV pandemic earlier also highlighted the impact of the social determinants of health on disease risk and outcomes and increasingly, the threat of climate change which disproportionately affects poorer nations and populations will create further challenges on the health of individuals and societies.

The lessons learnt from these pandemics should therefore give us pause to examine the systemic and structural factors that lead to health outcomes which provides us with an opportunity to review policies to address them that can lead to genuine transformation of the health of our population.


View the slides HERE.


Addressing Health Inequality

Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, a distinguished infectious diseases physician and academic leader delivered her keynote lecture in the 8th Annual Public Lecture and the 3rd Dr Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health 2024 on 9th March 2024 at Penang Institute.

Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid the blatant societal disparities that worsen the disease's impact, with income, employment, and political affiliation emerging as significant factors. While public health measures aimed at curbing COVID-19 have affected all segments of society, the distribution of direct and indirect effects has been unequal. Research highlights differing case rates between lower and higher income groups, shedding light on the disparities in pandemic outcomes.

Furthermore, according to her, there is a pressing need to scrutinize systemic and structural factors that underpin health outcomes. Policy review and reform are imperative to initiate genuine transformations in population’s health, ensuring equitable access to healthcare and addressing the root causes of societal disparities.

Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, currently President & Pro Vice-Chancellor at Monash University Malaysia. A staunch advocate for social justice, particularly in HIV prevention, treatment and care and drug policies. She chairs the Malaysian AIDS Foundation. Internationally recognized, she advises WHO, UNAIDS, and UNODC committees and is Vice Chair of WHO’s Science Council. Her notable contributions earned her awards such as the Merdeka Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Monash University.

The Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society established the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health to recognize the exemplary leaders and their outstanding contributions to the field of public health. The first awardee was Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, Director-General of Health, Malaysia who delivered the 6th named Annual Public Lecture on “Steeling Up Against the Omicron Storm-Is Malaysia Prepared?” in 2022.