SDG3 Good Health and Wellbeing
Photo Credit: Knowledge Exchange Office, HKU
HKU is at the forefront of research to tackle mental health, infectious disease, and the development of new medicines. The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine is the largest faculty in the University and continues to be a pioneering institute of medical education, training and research. The faculty oversees the SmartBio & HealthTech (SH) research theme, one of the University's Strategically Oriented Research Themes (SORTs). SORTs are a key element of HKU’s research strategy and the SH theme is led by a team of world-class researchers to study topics such as the well-being of the brain and mind, infectious diseases and microbial resistance, and chemical biology for drug discovery.
Apart from medical research and studies, the University also has programmes that focus on pollution and its effects on health. The Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning completed a study in 2018 that looked at the costs of air pollution in China based on health effects. They compared the health costs of different provinces to develop an integrated pollution-health effects assessment tool for the entire county. This tool was then used to assess different policy scenarios.
The University promotes mental health and well-being through the WeCare Fund for Student-Initiated Youth Suicide Prevention Projects. The fund has supported 25 student-led projects to promote a positive atmosphere on post-secondary campuses across Hong Kong and raise awareness on mental health issues. In 2017, Heart to Heart, one of the funded projects on the HKU campus, developed a social media platform and various activities to help students share their personal experiences with mental health.
Teaching & Research
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Proportion of HKU students graduated in health professions*
*Including graduates of all academic levels. Relevant disciplines include programmes and majors from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Humanities & Medicine, Speech & Hearing, Medical Engineering, Psychology, Expressive Arts Therapy, Counselling, Food Science
Cartilage injuries are very common and affect 40% of adults over 65. In 2017, a team of biomedical engineers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a new way to regenerate cartilage using a patient's own stem cells. The pioneering technique can grow cartilage to fit the exact size and shape needed and does not require the harvesting of healthy cartilage from other parts of the joint, which can be painful and lead to complications. The team have set up a start-up to take the technology to the next stage and are about to start trials for sports injuries and trauma.
An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and postgraduate students are working to eliminate eczema through The Eczema Eradication Project (TEEP). The team was formed in 2018 and aims to end eczema for 1 million people before 2026. They have created a space for those suffering from eczema and share the latest treatments and inspiring stories. They also raise awareness about the condition to the wider community in order to further work towards eradication. The team has divided their work into different age brackets to best support people in different stages of life. The younger generation is reached via social media, while they meet the elderly in face to face visits. The project will help to bring light to the 300 million people around the world across all age groups who are affected by eczema.
As a major employer, HKU provides a variety of medical, mental health, and well-being benefits. Staff enjoy wellness benefits such as yoga and taiji classes as well as two full-service sports centres including pools and gyms. Furthermore, the University provides comprehensive medical benefits including low-cost quality essential health care and a Staff Medical Benefits Scheme that covers specialist care and hospitalization. Staff also have access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), to help them cope with problems that may arise in the workplace or in their personal life. It includes a comprehensive array of counselling services, training and development workshops, crisis management services, and work-life balance programmes, all free of charge. In order to support healthy and safe childbirth and support parents, in 2018 the University extended maternity and paternity leave to 14 weeks and 7 days respectively.
HKU promotes and supports physical health and wellbeing through the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) program. The Centre for Sports and Exercise runs a variety of events and initiatives and partners with the University Health Service to promote fitness and health to staff and students. In 2018, HKU was awarded as an EIM Gold Level Campus by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for its excellent work.