Wang Du : Working together in various ways to promote global health

Wang Du is a diabetes Research Fellow at the George Institute, China. She is also the Assistant to the Chairman of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Western Pacific Region. Let us hear more about her story.

How long have you been working at The George Institute China?

I have been with the Institute for over a year.

What is your professional background? Why did you decide to pursue global health research?

I completed my bachelor’s and master’s in public and population health at the Peking University Health Science Center. I then did my Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. With the development of science and technology and rising economic levels, the cost of global interoperability is reduced. People are more interconnected both virtually and face-to-face. The incidence and development of many diseases and treatments do not only depend on individual effort nor the strength of a single country. What it takes to solve these problems is more of the collective effort of several countries. In this regard, infectious diseases is a more obvious example. For chronic diseases, lifestyle interventions, such as salt reduction and smoking cessation, require updated standardization across the industry, so as to enable the power of global cooperation to be greater and more effective. In summary, adapting to the needs of the times and the direction of development are crucial.

What attracted you to work at The George Institute?

The George Institute has an international work platform and environment, with Australia as its headquarters and offices in several countries, I have access to top international projects. In terms of areas of expertise, the burden of chronic diseases is heaviest, which is also the research focus point of The George Institutes for Global Health.

What research projects are you currently working on? How will they impact health care?

I am currently involved in health systems research for Type I diabetes and Type II diabetes projects. These projects will help update treatment specifications. As there is currently a lack of public awareness of diabetes, there is a need to strengthen education, especially for children living in rural areas to aid in understanding and early detection of children with type 1 diabetes so as to allow for early intervention as soon as possible. This will help to reduce the burden of disease and increase the life expectancy of children with early diagnosis of type I diabetes from the current average of 30 years old to the normal life expectancy of 70-80 years old as seen in Australian children that have undergone early intervention.

What are the current methods of early intervention, what are the challenges in implementation, and how is it possible to increase patient acceptance?

There are targeted interventions for different patient groups. For example, the focus for middle-aged and elderly patients would be on persuasion and encouragement from family and friends. They can also participate in various support groups, where they can better cope with disease management by having mutual support from fellow patients who are going through the same experience. At the same time, in order to raise public awareness about diabetes, we can follow the example of healthcare provider endorsement overseas, where we can get well-known healthcare providers to carry out diabetes education on public platforms. Other methods include policy implementation, such as in the case of smoking cessation, where the government implemented a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places. This led to workers having to leave their office buildings to smoke. Therefore, some people may stop smoking because of inertia. Of course, in terms of diabetes, mandatory fasting policies are not applicable.

Why do you like working at the George Institute China?

Firstly, the George Institute China is an international platform.  The broader vision and platform of international organizations has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in various countries, and we can also provide our expertise and assistance. In addition, the Institute’s flexible work arrangement can give employees full autonomy and stimulate maximum creativity in a relaxed environment. At the same time, I also like the respect for employees and human care that the Institute accords us with.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge to global health today?

Equity. There are inequalities in the allocation of resources and health such as self-funded vaccines, new drugs, etc. This is inevitable as it is impossible for a drug company to spend billions of dollars to develop a new drug, and it is impossible to not consider cost recovery. Therefore, low-cost prevention interventions are particularly important in the pre-development and early stage of disease. Following this direction can help to achieve the broadest and most equitable coverage, and it is also a crucial point that we at the George Institute China focus on.