took the time to complete a residency, and I continued my clinical practice until I moved to Hong Kong.’ It so happened that the most recent global health crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – brought Professor Bishai to Hong Kong. ‘Over the past three years, what the world has seen is that the best talent in public health has been in Asia. During the pandemic, we saw quite clearly that regions of Asia, such as South Korea, Singapore and even Hong Kong in 2020 and 2021, were keeping the virus at bay, unlike what was happening in the West. It is quite clear that there was an approach to public health that was different here, and so I became very curious about what was going on in Asia. I thought that by working in Asia, I could learn how to become a better public health professor by broadening my understanding of Asian health systems.’ As a public health professor, Professor Bishai has worked throughout his career to understand what processes and policies make large groups of people healthy. ‘This is the nature of what we do in public health,’ he said. ‘Obviously Hong Kong had some difficult times with its public health practices during the Omicron fifth wave, and even now, by being here, I can better understand some of the special gaps in our system that allowed us to be vulnerable during the fifth wave. There is a lot of work to do as well. It is exciting for me to be in a community where the public health system is not totally perfect, as there is still room to make things better.’ Over the years, the School of Public Health has been committed to meliorism – the firm belief that evidence-based collective action enhances the health and well- being of everyone. For public health specialists, health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can be both a crisis and an opportunity. ‘There are many issues that remain unaddressed in our population,’ said Professor Bishai. ‘The statistics on the Department of Health website show that the number one killer in Hong Kong is cancer, unlike in many Western populations, where heart disease is the most common cause of death. When we look into cancer, shockingly, in a place where the smoking rate is one of the lowest on earth, lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in Hong Kong. The reason for this remains a mystery.’ He added, ‘Here at HKUMed, we have amazing cancer researchers, together with the School’s strengths in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) epidemiology and prevention, so we can team up to solve this mystery, and advance cancer treatment and prevention together. This is also aligned with the Faculty’s multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, as well as its cancer agenda in primary prevention. So this is an opportunity.’ In the meantime, what is fast becoming universal is the fact ↑Professor Bishai finds it exciting to be in a community where the public health system is not totally perfect, as there is always room for improvement. 對於貝教授來説, 身處在一個公共衞生 體系不盡完美的地區, 正好賦予我們進步和 改善的空間。 29 HKUMed News Winter 2023