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Healing the World Through Informed Public Health Choices

Six years ago, Dr Ravdeep Sethi (MPH Full-time - Population & Global Health, Class of 2014), currently Medical Advisor at Amgen, was a student travelling for the first time to Bangladesh. His Master of Public Health (MPH) study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) brought him there for a 6-day trip to learn about the healthcare initiatives in the country. Changed by this eye-opening experience, he returned home deeply reflecting on the power of public health education in transforming lives around the world.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr Sethi has always been fascinated with the work of the World Health Organization and similar international institutes. He took this strong public health interest overseas, completing his undergraduate study in Human Biology at the Loughborough University in London in 2013. Immediately after graduation, he enrolled in CUHK and graduated in 2014 from the Master of Public Health programme.

His MPH concentration choice, Population and Global Health (POPG), has particularly positioned him to fulfill his lifelong passion of educating the communities with his holistic knowledge of major diseases and how they impact the world at large. The study integrates biomedical science, economics, ethics sociology, demography and policy perspectives.

“The programme has given me a lot of insights into what we may be doing to promote health. I learned that we are not limited to targeting specific diseases, or pursuing research, NGO work, or the academe alone. For instance, a lot of banks or technologies nowadays are looking into digital health, which is a new way of engaging different people. There are simply many ways to reach more people, and promote public health in a more proactive way,” added Dr Sethi.

It comes as no surprise then that his public health practice spans medical communications work. His current role in the biopharmaceutical company regularly connects him with several Opinion Leaders (OLs), particularly in the field of bone health and osteoporosis. As Medical Advisor for the APAC region, he engages with different physicians and medical professionals, and educates them on the up-and-coming publications or novel solutions available, ultimately bringing them up to speed on what they may be doing to help their patients.

“This role provides me a great opportunity to promote health to a wider group of people. I was able to pick up different resources from my MPH study and apply them to my work,” he shared. By targeting key individuals to promote an understanding of specific diseases and related innovation, Dr Sethi is able to thoughtfully shape health-altering behaviors that impact the wider community.

The decision to move back to Hong Kong in 2013 to pursue further studies at CUHK and eventually practice what he learned in the country was similarly rooted in the empowerment he finds in maximizing the wealth of opportunity and diversity presented before him.

“When I was looking at Public Health courses in Hong Kong, I found that CUHK had a more diverse academic offering compared to other universities. There are different types of courses and subjects on offer,” he shared.

With five multidisciplinary concentration areas to choose from, CUHK’s Master of Public Health programme offers aspiring public health enthusiasts like Dr Sethi relevant theoretical and practical understanding, combining insights from epidemiology, research, health systems, and social behavior, among others.

“I learned alongside classmates from different educational backgrounds and under the guidance of a global and esteemed faculty. CUHK’s campus is very nice and exciting, too. I especially loved the environment at the School, which is attractively situated in the middle of Prince of Wales Hospital,” added Sethi.

Dr. Sethi sees Hong Kong as a great place for any student to build a career in increasingly important disciplines like public health.

“Hong Kong is at the forefront of many new and exciting research areas. Students wanting to explore meaningful opportunities that bring them out of their comfort zones would thrive here. The city also offers many things to discover, including a very nice countryside. You can spend time in the city and then go to the same beach in the same day,” shared Dr Sethi.

With the current global health crisis, Dr Sethi agrees that his CUHK education becomes ever more significant at home and in the community. The POPG programme has long equipped students with historical knowledge on diseases and pandemics, and the potential directions to take in the event of unprecedented health challenges.

“Global health has always been very important to humanity just because there are many things we still don’t know about the world. With it being very connected now, and people able to travel and exchange information quickly, we need to be foremost cautious about maintaining health as the number one priority,” he added.

With faith in education and the combined knowledge of many public health advocates, Dr Sethi expressed his hope for a potential cure for COVID-19, highlighting the far-reaching benefits of his CUHK study to young public health leaders today and in the future: “As the world evolves, I believe there are many more avenues to go for after finishing this programme on global health. Students need not have a background in medicine or biology to excel in this field. You only need an open mind and a genuine interest in health. Continuous education plus experience eventually teaches us to become better, engage better, and to do better when it comes to the ever-growing work of shaping a healthier world.”

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