Resolutions and solutions: Health-care experts set goals for 2024

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions. However, I do appreciate goal-setting. For 2024, I shall endeavour to read more books. I have always enjoyed reading, but modern life – hijacked by the habitual use of smartphones and constant stimulation from social media – has drastically shortened my attention span. I will set aside time to read and concentrate without interruptions. My reading list:

Spike: The Virus vs. The People – the Inside Story, by Sir Jeremy Farrar with Anjana Ahuja. Dr. Jeremy Farrar was the Director of the Wellcome Trust from 2013 to 2023, an infectious diseases epidemiologist, and one of Britain’s COVID-19 response advisors. As of 2023, Farrar was appointed to be the WHO’s Chief Scientist. In this book, he provided insight into the early investigations and pandemic response. As someone who gained her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Epidemiology during the pandemic, I find the book to be quite gripping (the first few chapters read like a movie!) and educational.

Invisible Women: Data Bias In A World Designed For Men, by Caroline Criado Perez. As a pharmacist, I am well aware that women are under-represented in clinical trials, resulting in a paucity of data informing us on the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics properties and optimal dosing in potentially half of the population. As a result, problems that disproportionately affect women’s responses to treatment may only become apparent in the post-marketing phase, and only if they are reported. I believe this book is vital reading for clinicians and researchers alike. To address gender inequalities, tackling gender bias in data is a crucial first step.

The Art of Explanation: How to Communicate with Clarity and Confidence, by Ros Atkins. He is a journalist-presenter at the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the pandemic, he became known for his tightly packaged, informative and most of all, articulate “explainer videos” that tell you “the what, the why/how, and the ‘now what?’” about a newsworthy subject in a masterful way. This book is a step-by-step manual packed with his own lessons-learned, written in a warm and light-hearted manner. I am hoping it will help me improve my communication skills, especially when it comes to communicating clinical knowledge.