I have great pleasure in welcoming all of you to the oldest and most established Public Health Department in Malaysia. Congratulations on successfully joining the academic session 2020/2021. I am happy that you will continue your scholarship of knowledge and wisdom within these hallowed halls of the University of Malaya. Our community is dedicated to improving the trajectories of health using grounded yet innovative Public Health Sciences. I commend you on starting your journey towards enhancing the health of the nation and the world. I wish you the best in your endeavour to make this a better world.
This year, the COVID-19 Pandemic has highlighted to the world the importance of Public Health in ensuring a safer future. When comparing the responses of countries to the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes clear that those who have a better handle of the pandemic are those with better public health infrastructure. It also highlights that having immense knowledge of Public Health Sciences is not enough. For successful prevention and control of a pandemic, a country also needs to have with it an appropriate public health infrastructure, public health expertise, shoe leather practitioners (boots on the ground), political will, and national policies. I hope that you will contribute to the continued preparedness of this country.
The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM) was established in 1964 and is the first Public Health Department in Malaysia. It is the premier academic destination for public health professionals and academics over the past half a century. Over time, we have consistently increased our academic course offerings, staffing, and student intake numbers to meet the needs of the nation.
The Master of Public Health Programme was started in 1973 to cater to the needs of the country, with the first seven students graduating in 1974. The strengths of the SPM Department lies with her multi-disciplinary expertise pooled from our academics, the appointment of visiting professors from renowned universities, and the regular curriculum assessment by internationally recognized assessors. We ensure the relevance of our curriculum and quality of our teaching by joining the National Public Health Conjoint Committee of Medical Postgraduate Programmes, Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH), and ASEAN University Network (AUN) accreditations at international level, besides meeting the standards as specified by the Malaysian Qualifying Agency (MQA). We are also a founding member of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health Global Network for Academic Public Health.
The Department, with its three research centres, continues to be the hub for quality Public Health research in Malaysia. The Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice has successfully pioneered the fields of epidemiology and evidence-based medicine and is a centre of clinical research excellence. The Centre for Population Health (CePH) conducts many community intervention projects and actively contributes to our local communities. The Centre of Occupation and Environment Health (COEHUM) provides consultancies in various occupational and environmental areas.
We are a team that aspires for trust and togetherness akin to a family. This team spirit has been essential in driving this department forward. We are fortunate to have a group of non-academic staff who are able to help the Department. We are well supported by the university management and sincerely thank them for their support in our pursuit of education and research excellence.
Public health is a unique area of health and medicine, where you are able to treat populations and not only mere individuals. You are now a lifelong affiliate of the department, and we hope to facilitate your journey towards improving the health of communities and populations.
Professor Dr. Sanjay Rampal Lekhraj Rampal
Head of Department of Social and Preventive Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
University of Malaya