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Interview with Dr Ryoma KAYANO

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Dr Ryoma KAYANO, Technical Officer (Health Emergencies) of the World Health Organization Centre for Health Development (WKC). He visited The JC School of Public Health and Primary Care from 1 to 22 April 2019. He was invited to share the experience of his research career in an interview. Q.1 Can you introduce yourself? How did you start your research career? I started my research career in biomedicine in my Ph.D. course after graduating from Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan. Along with my career as a medical doctor and researcher in biomedicine, I was involved in the university’s activities on international research collaboration. Based on this career and my experience in disaster relief for Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, I started working for WHO Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre: WKC, WHO HQ) as a Technical Officer in charge of health emergency and disaster risk management (Health EDRM). Since the assignment at WKC, I have worked for promoting and coordinating WKC’s research projects in collaboration with international academia. Q.2 Would you mind sharing with us your area of research and expertise? Over the past few decades, the world has been facing a number of disasters with increased frequency and impact on human health. The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction established the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework), which introduced a framework for actions across the disaster risk management (DRM) continuum (prevention, preparedness, response and recovery). Sendai Framework highlights the importance of health in whole DRM context with more than 30 references to health issues, as well as improving the scientific evidence base to advance Health EDRM. In response, WHO established the WHO Thematic Platform for Health EDRM Research Network (TPRN) to promote global collaboration among academia, government officials and other stakeholders to generate better scientific evidence to inform policy and practice for managing health risks associated with emergencies and disaster. I have also been involved in the establishment and development of TPRN and the coordination of its collaborative activities represented by the development of WHO Guidance on Research Methods for Health EDRM. Q.3 What work are you doing during your fellowship at CCOUC/CUHK? I have been involved in the development of several book chapters, journal papers, policy papers and research documents of CCOUC, as well as contributed to some lectures at CUHK organized by CCOUC. I also joined the planning and preparation of CCOUC’s fieldwork in Philippines. It was a great experience for me to be engaged in those works as a part of their team, which expanded my vision and improved my expertise in addressing global health issues in collaboration with academia. Q.4 How do you think Public Health may contribute to your sector (Health-EDRM), how does it differ from being a medical doctor? As described above, I have been involved in Health EDRM as a medical doctor, researcher, and as a WHO Officer. Each position has unique and important but different roles. The works of medical professionals are essential as the specific methodology to save lives and better the health of affected people, while public health is essential for the improvement of the quality, planning and implementation of their work. The backgrounds and working areas of public health professionals varies (e.g. on-site medical worker, government official, researcher, policy maker, logistician, and fundraiser). In this sense, regardless of the certification of the expertise by academic degree, public health is considered as a key factor of effective operation and implementation of Health EDRM activities and could be a bridge among different players in health sectors and even different sectors of DRM. Q.5 What would be your advice for the youth in career development in the 21st Century? As represented in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the international society is facing numbers of global issues all of which are interconnected and interrelated. To contribute to addressing those global issues, inter-sectoral collaboration is more important than competition among different sectors. As represented in Health EDRM, health can be a key factor as a bridge, a facilitator and a common benefit among different sectors. Youth involved in public health is encouraged to understand the unique role of health and for them to consider their specific contribution to the whole context of addressing global issues (e.g. one of the SDG) through their work in public health in collaboration with other health professionals and other stakeholders.