change behaviour and help us take care of our families better,’ Professor Bishai clarified. ‘It is not just waiting to go to the doctor when we are sick. We can all ask questions like, “Are you eating right? Are you getting exercise? Are you visiting family members who live alone?” Local needs assessment plays a role.’ With funding support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the School conducted a territorywide cohort study in Hong Kong to better understand the health, happiness and harmony of individuals, and the households and communities in which they live. The FAMILY cohort study generated survey data of the health profiles of each district of Hong Kong, such as blood pressure levels, exercise, smoking patterns and senior loneliness, comprising district-level health profiles in the form of web-based interactive ‘maps of health’. Professor Bishai believes that these health profiles will be useful for DHCs to initiate conversations with local residents as one of their service deliverables, and to create a community culture that can say ‘this is our neighbourhood, and these are our health concerns that need to be addressed’. Again, the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social ripple effects are a stark reminder that preparedness and prevention are paramount for safeguarding both local and global public health. In Professor Bishai’s view, this can be done better in the community with open communication and trust building, along with evidence and expert knowledge on diseases and viruses. ‘Imagine a primary healthcare set of partnerships where every neighbourhood already has communication and trust in its local DHC as “a place to talk about health”. In such a setting, whatever new emerging infectious disease come along, there will be communication hubs for listening and informing. Creating such a community is a high priority for the future of our preparedness, and this is what the School of Public Health wants to help Hong Kong achieve,’ he said. Changing mindsets, behaviour and culture may sound difficult, but Professor Bishai sees another edge for Hong Kong in adapting new ideas and practices to make them work in the local context. ‘Health is not a private issue. It is public health. Hong Kong people know that in commerce, we make money by working together in large groups, called corporations. Let us do that also for health, using the same skills, networking and trust. We have to naturalise it with Hong Kong’s own capability, from the bottom up. Hong Kong is great at adapting what works for it, and changing it and making it better,’ said Professor Bishai, drawing an analogy between public health and a local delicacy. ‘The best example is French toast. It is better here. And it is better because of what Hong Kong has taken from the West and adapted to local tastes.’ Professor Bishai feels positive about Hong Kong finding cultural comfort in creating neighbourhoods that enable health for us all, which is also what he and his team at the School of Public Health are working towards. For Professor Bishai, Hong Kong is irresistible, and a place where there are tough problems, great solutions and smart people. As he settles in his new home at HKUMed’s School of Public Health, he encourages students and colleagues to keep their idealism, but to be practical about it. ‘Do not lose your idealism. It can be easy to lose it some days when you look at future trends in the economy or in health, and you might ask “what is the point?”, but without the ability to imagine a better world, you cannot reach it. Hong Kong’s uniqueness adds value to the exchange of scientific ideas and their practical application,’ he said. FEATURE + ↓Professor Bishai, Faculty members and undergraduate GHD students. 貝教授與學院教員, 以及環球衞生及發展 課程本科生。 32