Canada's Year of Asia Pacific

Experts share health education expertise

UBC students and faculty members and distance learning specialists from across Canada will meet Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) representatives Nov. 21 and 22 in a workshop designed to promote health education in developing countries.

Called Bridging the Pacific: Education and Health For All Through Distance Learning Partnerships, the workshop forms part of a symposium highlighting B.C. industry to APEC delegates.

"B.C. is a world leader in distance education and UBC and BCIT are among the biggest contributors to Canada's international learning programs," says workshop organizer Josephine Seear of the Office of the Co-ordinator of Health Sciences.

About 40 representatives from Canada and APEC-member economies are expected to attend the workshop at the Robson Square Media Centre. Specialists in international development, communications technology, and medical education and representatives of the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the private sector will gather to discuss an APEC-wide network for distance health education.

"We want to improve health care in marginalized regions," says Seear, who is also chair of the organizing committee for a proposed new Centre for International Health at UBC.

Isolated parts of Canada can also benefit from distance medical education, which includes radio broadcasts on public health issues, video-conferencing between hospitals and on-line technical training, she adds.

UBC's Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) will be showcasing a 3-D imaging connection that allows doctors working at different hospitals to communicate graphically in real time. A doctor with expertise in facial reconstructive surgery will be electronically linked to a doctor operating at a hospital across the country in a demonstration of the system.

Health education courses are highly marketable products because health becomes a priority once developing countries start industrializing, Seear says. International funding agencies such as the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency sponsor multimillion-dollar contracts to develop medical training or public health projects.

But distance learning in medical education is not just a business proposition. International health issues are rapidly emerging as travel, immigration and trade with developing nations increase.

"As Canadians, we can't ignore the health of developing countries and remain healthy ourselves," Seear says.

Workshop participants will discuss their distance learning experiences in free public sessions running from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

On Nov. 22 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., UBC's Global Outreach Student Association (GOSA), a multi-disciplinary group of students dedicated to local and global health promotion, will present a panel discussion called Globalization and Health Equity. Speakers include former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, representatives of the World Health Organization and Street Kids International. Groups will convene in the afternoon to further explore the issue. Admission to the GOSA panel presentation is $15 (free for students).

A trans-Pacific exchange of ideas has already started on the Internet. Individuals wishing to join the discussion should address their comments to, a resource provided by the Canadian International Health Education Network, another of the conference organizers.

For more information on the workshop call Josephine Seear at 739-4370.

Information about buildings, roads, parking, and transit routes that will be affected during the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting at UBC Nov. 25 is available on the Web.

More information about APEC and UBC's involvement is also available on the Web at under "News, Events and Attractions."