Introducing physiotherapy students to a global perspective of health
Increasing awareness of global health
Physiotherapy students at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), can enrol in the module Health Systems: Global Perspectives in their final year. The module provides an opportunity for students to explore contemporary global health issues, alongside students from other health disciplines. Presentations highlight the major challenges and issues in global health, such as the double burden of diseases, Sustainable Development Goals, primary health care, climate change, international health emergency and health diplomacy.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Environmental Health
The SDGs provide the framework for introducing students to the links between planetary health and human health. Some SDGs clearly address environmental concerns (#13, #14, #15) but it is made apparent to students how the goals are all interconnected. Social justice is an important theme in this presentation.
A separate topic within the module focuses on Environmental Health. Again, links are drawn for the students between climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation water stress and risk of undernutrition. Local examples of air pollution, water contamination and mosquito-borne diseases are presented.
What is next?
Currently, this module is an elective and so not all students are exposed to the information. The team at SIT are keen to explore more touchpoints for this information in core modules, so more students are informed and act as agents of change to improve planetary health. As well, promoting engagement with local initiatives such as Singapore’s The Green Plan will help students contextualise what they have learned about SDGs and make the impact of their actions more tangible.
Whitmee, S., Haines, A., Beyrer, C., Boltz, F., Capon, A. G., de Souza Dias, B. F., … & Yach, D. (2015). Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet, 386(10007), 1973-2028.
Emmanuel, S. C. (2000). Impact to lung health of haze from forest fires: the Singapore experience. Respirology, 5(2), 175-182.
World health statistics 2021: monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Singapore Government’s Green Plan: https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/key-focus-areas/overview
Prof Alan Wong
Cluster Director, Health and Social Sciences, SIT Singapore
Professor Alan Wong is the Director of the Health and Social Science Cluster at Singapore Institute of Technology. He is also the Module Lead for the elective module Health Systems: Global Perspectives. He generously offers his presentation to be part of the EPT Agenda 2023 repository.
Senior Lecturer, Health and Social Sciences Cluster, Singapore Institute of Technology
Lester Jones is the current Singapore Institute of Technology representative participating in EPT Agenda 2023 meetings and activities. He has contributed both presentations and articles – including an Environmental Physiotherapy Association blog – on the role we can take as individuals and a profession to contribute to planetary health.
Selected teaching materials
To facilitate resource sharing and collaboration, you can download the presentation used in the teaching of this module in pdf format here, generously shared by Professor Alan Wong, Director of the Health and Social Science Cluster at Singapore Institute of Technology. If you choose to use this in original form or by changing it according to your needs and context, we would highly appreciate it if you could provide us with your feedback, questions and ideas for amendments.
Get in touch
🇬🇧 We would love to hear from you and continue the conversation about our global and environmental health teaching initiatives. If you have any feedback, questions or ideas that you would like to share with us, please contact Lester Jones via email or use the comment form below.