Highlights at Penang Institute

7th Annual Public Lecture & Presentation of the Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health 2023

On March 5 2023, the Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society organized the 7th Annual Public Lecture together with the award ceremony for the Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health 2023, in conjunction to the 144th birthday anniversary of Dr Wu Lien-Teh and 10th year anniversary of the Society, in collaboration with our strategic partner, Penang Institute.

We were extremely proud to have Professor Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director and Professor of Global Health, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Sunway University as the second awardee of the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Award for Leadership in Public Health. She was awarded in recognition of her prominent leadership as a trusted humanitarian and founder of MERCY Malaysia with remarkable contributions to the development of humanitarian and international emergency aid at home and globally. She pioneered the use of Islamic social finance to address humanitarian crises. Her active engagement in inter-agency partnership, resource development and mobilization, strategic planning, policy implementation and global communications have inspired many and made a great impact with positive changes. She actively advises on Environment, Social and Governance in the advisory and board roles she holds. Her strong advocacy for planetary health and sustainable development is remarkable. The award was presented by Dato’ Seri (Dr.) Anwar Fazal, President, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society in the presence of Dato’ Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, Director, Penang Institute. Our guest speaker delivered her lecture on “Planetary Health or Accelerate Our Extinction -We have a Choice”.

In his welcoming remarks, Dato’ Dr. Ooi admired the passion of the awardee and her deep immersion at the nexus between health, the environment and govenrnance. We all expect more pandemics, disasters and conflicts ahead and require leaders like the awardee to be there to mitigate the effects of these adversities. Dato’ Seri (Dr.) Anwar shared with the audience on stories of Dr. Wu and his health activism on anti-opiuim campaign. The interconnectedness between humanity and mother earth, and how planetary health provides a comprehensive approach to bend on accelerating our very own extinction.

Professor Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah captivated her audience over her 50 mins lecture. She shared stories of a mother from Mozambique giving birth to a girl while hanging onto a tree during a severe flood and a young girl who died of toxic air pollution in London a decade ago. She showed a wide range of real-world data and reminded us that by now, we have breached six out of the nine planetary bounderies, and will continue to breach more if we do not act now! We were brought through the journey on a variatey of issues from food insecurity and food wastage, greenhouse effects, mental health and climate change. She called for collective actions from top-down and bottom-up approach, with focus on three key aspects- governance, communication and education as way forwards. The choice is ours! The full video is accessible at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfkdsimYNiI.

The Society established the award in March 2022 to recognize the exemplary leaders and their outstanding contributions to the field of public health. Their passion and determination in making a difference for mankind. Their fighting spirit is infectious and their achievements continue to inspire others. The awardee will be invited to deliver the named Annual Public Lecture of the year. 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.

Planetary Health or Accelerate Our Extinction – We have a Choice