Scholarships for Masters of Public Health students
Jonathan Fryer, Hanoi and Ca Mau, December 2014
I chose to do my MIPH as part of a major career and life change from community pharmacy and the Hoc Mai field placement has been a vital next step in my development in my new career. It has brought me practical experience in the field, so this has been a fantastic opportunity for me.
My area of interest is Tuberculosis control and the possible role of the local pharmacy sector can play in assisting in this public health issue. Through one of the Hoc Mai partners, The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, I was able to learn first hand about the challenges of dealing with the health system in a low-middle income country.
My first two weeks was based in Ha Noi at the Woolcock office. There I visited a district TB centre and learnt how the current TB Control Program works. What struck me was the very basic level of facility the health workers have at their disposal, even in the nations’ capital.
My next two weeks were in Ca Mau, in the far south of the Mekong Delta. Here, I worked alongside the field staff of the ACT3 research study being undertaken by Woolcock, collecting sputum samples for active case detection.
I visited remote communities with field staff. Some villages so remote they could only be reached by boat. This is where the poverty still present in Vietnam is most evident, with no running water or proper waste facilities, living in stilt huts made from mangrove wood and palm leaves above the tidal swamp.
Whilst in Vietnam I have also travelled and seen many parts of the country and experienced the culture. I borrowed a bike from a colleague and cycled 350km from Ca Mau to Saigon over four days. Cycling through the Mekong delta on rural roads through rice fields is an experience I will never forget.
This allowed me to see a Vietnam unseen by most westerners. The people were so friendly and welcoming. Some would ride next to me on their motorbikes and practice their English. Many would call out and wave, saying “hello” as I road through their village and invite me to stop and have a drink. Such beautiful people!
The opportunity given to me by Hoc Mai, and the generosity of Woolcock have helped me understand the challenges faced in this rapidly developing country and my potential future working in this beautiful country. I cannot thank these organisations and the people who assisted me in this experience enough. This has been a professionally enlightening an a personally enriching experience I will never forget.
Lisa Redwood, Hanoi, December 2014
My name is Lisa Redwood and I was able to go to Hanoi, Vietnam for 1 month with Hoc Mai for my independent study.
While there I worked in the Hanoi office for the Woolcock Institute for Medical Research assisting them with one of their research projects. I was working office hours, and most of the work included assisting the data collection officer with the weekly reports, district reports and checking the data sets for errors. I would assist the project manager to express herself better in writing reports in English, and brainstorming ideas to enhance the data collection methods, which was through phone calls and household visits, and participate in their weekly skype meetings with the head of the project who was living in Canada.
During this time I was also able to work on my own small research project, which included interviewing the telephonists conducting the phone calls and asking many questions to various staff members in order to identify methods to improve their research methods. This will be useful for their project because their ACT2 study had poor follow up from the study participants, and that is why they commenced the ACT2G study to improve the follow-up and improve the ACT2 study results. Everyone was really helpful and supportive of me being there. Their English was really good, and loved teaching me Vietnamese!
During my time with them, I was able to attend a meeting between the ministry of health and international NGO’s on how they can improve their relationship to improver services and visit a district TB clinic where another student and I interviewed the manager. This was great to see the more clinical side of TB management in Vietnam, especially being a nurse.
Living in Vietnam was a lot of fun and very interesting. I lived in a hotel, which was really convenient and my friend from work would take me every morning on her motorbike. I was with 2 other students so we did some weekend trips to Sapa valley and Hoi An. We were able to meet up with 2 MIPH alumni who were very happy to show us around their city and have dinner with us.
Although I have been to South-East Asia multiple times, I found that during this trip I was more focused on health activities. I found myself paying more attention to their cooking stoves, smoking habits and their general health for example. After learning so much throughout the year this experience gave a better insight to primary and public health in a low-middle income country.