The ASEAN University Network-Health Promotion Network (AUN-HPN) serves as a network for academic collaboration between health experts, medical practitioners and higher education institutions to advocate the role of universities in promoting healthy lifestyle and environments with a health promotion approach.
AUN-HPN was established in 2014 as the most significant outcome of the first AUN Health Promotion Conference organized in 2014 at Mahidol University (MU). The network is supported mainly by Mahidol University and some additional funding from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. AUN-HPN was founded under the guideline of the internationally endorsed Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion established in 1986 which set the international principles of health promotion, and is now implementing its health promotion strategies.
AUN-HPN takes a leading role in liaising and cooperating with higher education institutions and stakeholders in health promotion and policy advocacy, serving as a multilateral collaboration network whose objectives are:
To uphold its cross-regional mission in health promotion amongst universities, AUN-HPN developed the ASEAN Healthy University Framework in 2017 with the cooperation of AUN Member Universities. The framework serves as a guideline mechanism in health promotion for all participating universities through the conduct of several Healthy University programs and activities management with the aim to expand the concept of health promotion and raise awareness amongst AUN Member Universities. The ASEAN Healthy University Framework was also aspired by AUN-HPN to be a guideline for university networks across the globe whose goal is mutually set in bolstering health promotion in universities of their respective circles, , as well as to raise awareness and support the scale-up of health promotion approaches beyond the university settings.
Conferences and workshops were the activities most utilised by AUN-HPN in its efforts to strengthen cooperation of health promotion among involved stakeholders. One of the network’s most prominent health promotion conferences was the second AUN International Health Conference held in the Philippines in 2019, co-hosted by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the ASEAN University Network. The conference was aimed as a platform for partnering universities and stakeholders to exchange their perspectives and best practices towards health promotion in order to further the health promotion dialogue amongst universities across the ASEAN region.
As part of its mission, AUN-HPN also advocates its health promotion mission through research collaboration. The network has entered partnerships with member universities in different research projects such as the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) research project in partnership with Osaka University, Japan, which aims to tackle the rise of NCDs, and the Children and Youth Physical Activity Study (CYPAS), a 3-year research project focusing on the study of physical activity amongst Thai children and youths under the partnership with Mahidol University of Thailand. The outcomes of such projects are integrated in domestic and regional health policy making in hopes of creating targeted interventions aiming at various key risk factors. Contribution to cross-regional health-related research forms part of AUN-HPN health promotion efforts in academic capacity building and knowledge sharing.
One main initiative being promoted is the development of a tool – Healthy University Rating System (HURS) - to assess the progress on university health promotion. It is developed based on the essential health promotion elements recommended in the AUN-HPN’s Healthy University Framework; and it is aimed for regional and global utilization as a common tool for monitoring and evaluating health promotion efforts in all university settings.
Following its establishment in 2014, AUN-HPN has continuously been committed to its mission with the aim to achieve the engagement of universities in the promotion of healthy lifestyle and healthcare to the general public across the ASEAN region. AUN-HPN integrates its health promotion campaigns and programs through providing an engaging academic collaboration platform and research capacity building. Essentially, the network firmly upholds its integral role as part of the efforts to address the public health issues and sustainable development in the Southeast Asia region and beyond.
In the next article, we will take a look at AUN-AEC, serving as a platform for collaborative research between academics, industries, government agencies, and relevant organizations to support policy making focusing on the ASEAN Economic Community.