18 November 2013

Back in Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE—I am not sure if anyone has ever died of jet lag, but if there is a theory related to this, I am testing it to its limit. I have just made my third flight between the U.K. and Hong Kong in a month, and, since the end of September, I have made that journey four times with a round-the-world flight thrown in for fun. I am back in Singapore, the source of another post exactly one year ago, where I will spend four weeks teaching, consulting, and writing. The weather is doing its equatorial best to wear me down, but spending most days in short trousers and short-sleeved shirts is no hardship; I left the U.K. shivering autumnally and preparing for winter.

Bangkok weekend
My first week is over. I’m pleased that my wife has joined me for most of the first two weeks. We both have many friends in the region and none more so than Sally Wai-Chi Chan, PhD, MSc, BSc, RTN, RMN, FAAN, outgoing head of the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies at the National University of Singapore, and her husband, Bing Shu Cheng, who has been working here in the Ministry of Health. We also have friends in Bangkok, and our first weekend was spent there with Alex Aziz and his family.

Mrs. Watson, Roger Watson, Sally Wai-Chi Chan, and Bing Shu Cheng.
Alex was one of my former students but not of nursing. I used to be a university warden at The University of Edinburgh. The system of wardens is one whereby academic and other staff live with their families in university premises alongside the students. Our role is mainly pastoral, and we are allocated one block or house of several hundred students. Alex, who lived and worked in our residence at Edinburgh in the early 1990s, works with the International Labour Organisation in Bangkok, an agency of the United Nations dedicated to improving the lives of workers across the globe. Alex actually featured in our faculty blog when he met out mutual colleague, Mark Hayter, PhD, RN, FAAN, on a visit to Bangkok.

Distinguished editors
In addition to me, there are two other distinguished editors on campus, and I went to hear them speak about global health at a lunchtime seminar today. They are Richard Horton, BSc, MB, FRCP, FMedSci, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, and Howard Bauchner, M.D., editor-in-chief of JAMA. These were interesting and inspiring talks; neither of these editors of two of the world’s leading medical journals displayed any kind of medical hegemony or superiority regarding their eminent journals.

Howard Bauchner makes a point.
I was interested to hear Bauchner say that JAMA received more than 5,000 submissions annually and publishes only 5 percent of them. He told us how his own interest in global health developed and also discussed difficulties in defining global health. Both editors reflected on the growing importance of noncommunicable diseases and the ethical aspects of global health. 

Richard Horton in action.
Horton explained his vision of global health and how evidence for successful health initiatives could be presented to world leaders. I was especially struck by his vision for The Lancet—that it should be “more than a journal” and how, under some circumstances, The Lancet has acted like an NGO (nongovernmental organisation) in trying to influence the global health agenda and related decision-makers.

In my next post, I’ll be reporting again from Singapore, on the forthcoming 2nd NUS-NUH International Nursing Conference, which runs parallel with the 18th Malaysia-Singapore Nursing Conference. I am giving a paper on research into feeding difficulty in dementia. My wife returns to the U.K. at the end of this week after celebrating my birthday. I’ve chosen the iconic IndoChine restaurant in Gardens by the Bay. As I say, no hardship!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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