Distinguished Professor David Koh, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) was conferred the College of Public Health and Occupational Physicians (Singapore) Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 for his significant contributions to the practice and advancement of Occupational Medicine in Singapore and internationally.
The award is conferred to outstanding Public Health or Occupational Medicine Specialists who have contributed towards making major impact to the practice of Public Health or Occupational Medicine in Singapore, who also serve as role models to the fraternity of practitioners. Professor Koh was also recognised for his various leadership roles in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in Singapore and regionally, among many other achievements.
Viewing the award as the ultimate form of recognition from his professional peers and colleagues, Professor Koh stressed that the award is not for his personal efforts alone, but also for the work of many other people. Mentioning his teachers and mentors, he added that he had the privilege to be nurtured, mentored and developed by the best in the world. "Any achievement that I have only happened because I stand on the shoulders of giants," he said. "All of them were totally unselfish in teaching me and imparting their wisdom." He also acknowledged the achievement derived from working with superb colleagues and peers both locally and internationally.
During the Fellows Lunch Speech at the 12th Public Health and Occupational Medicine Conference, he pointed out that there is still much to be done as over 6,300 people die from work-related accidents or diseases every day, which are due to cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease and even overwork. "We need to prioritise our discipline, allocate adequate resources, have greater multi-sectoral collaboration and integration," he said. "At the same time, we need to incorporate and strengthen occupational health policy, practice and research and better train the health workforce to respond to these pressing issues."
Having had the opportunity to train local and international students who have made an impact regionally and further afield, Professor Koh admits that he is most proud of his role in training the next generation and it is a huge reward the the academic profession. Having done volunteer work and consultancies have also made him less of an "ivory tower" academic and allowed him to share real world problems and solutions in his teaching. "Academics should be practitioners as well," he quipped.
The fourth edition of the Textbook of Occupational Medicine Practice, co-written with Professor Tar-Ching Aw, an Eminent Visiting Professor at UBD, will be out in a month. It is used in Asia, the Middle East and also by students taking the Royal College of Physicians Ireland membership in occupational medicine exams. The book has been translated into Korean and abridged versions are also available in Vietnamese and Thai.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Professor Koh by the Senior Minister of State for health, Dr Lam Pin Min on 21st July 2017 during the opening of the annual Public Health and Occupational Medicine Conference in Singapore, which is held in conjunction with the 51st Singapore-Malaysia Congress of Medicine and 12th Singapore Public Health and Occupational Medicine Conference 2017.
He has also previously been conferred the Smiley Medal from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland; the Wilf Howe memorial Prize from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of London, and the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Singapore International Foundation.
Professor David Koh has been working at Universiti Brunei Darussalam since 2012. He founded the Global Classroom in Public Health linking UBD with other reputable universities and providing an international perspective in the field. Teaching sessions involved simultaneous broadcasting to students in different countries in the Asia Pacific region. Since its inception, the global classroom has extended to include nursing and medicine.
Our heartiest congratulations to Professor David Koh.
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