For three months in Manila I conducted research relating to tuberculosis at a national infectious disease hospital. Prior to that, when I was still in Nagasaki, I had attended lectures on biostatistics and medical ethics which were core to the clinical research and made my research proposal along with my supervisor.
When I arrived in Manila, I made a presentation about my proposal before all the research collaborators, followed by further discussions with them. This allowed my proposal to be approved by the ethics committee of the hospital where I eventually worked at.
My supervisors and I communicated frequently through TV conference so I could modify and take actions appropriate to the specific situations in the field. By the end of my stay, I was able to collect the necessary data which I analyzed and wrote for my master thesis.
I also joined many clinical sessions in the wards and met outpatients at the hospital. They gave me the invaluable opportunity to see many tropical clinical cases never seen here in Japan and to understand their management.
This “Overseas Clinical Research Program” is an outstanding program which provides both research and clinical experiences in an overseas setting for a short period of time.
I had majored in international cooperation when I was an undergraduate student and was already interested in community development. I had enrolled in the graduate school because I particularly wanted to deepen my understanding of health improvement through community participation.
One of the things that I discovered here is that being able to attend a variety of lectures that cross the boundaries of liberal arts and science has allowed me to obtain the knowledge and perspectives required for international health.
The second benefit was the long-term internship that lasted for eight months. I interned at a local hospital (community health program) in Nepal and conducted research on newborn care in rural areas of the country. Both the internship and research required me to obtain cooperation from local people and to solve issues on my own; this process became an important foundation for me in working in the field. In March, I began working as a resident for an NGO that operates in the Philippines. Having observed initiatives to support children living on the streets of Manila and the typhoon victims in Leyte, I recognize the importance of forming a network with local people and stakeholders and providing support with a vision towards the future. Moving forward, as I work on the assigned project (improve education, health, and livelihood of local people and the children of indigenous people), I will also try to expand the opportunities for people, as well as for myself, in the target areas.
(International Children’s Action Network, ICAN Philippines, Mindanao)
It has been one year since I started working for a development consulting company after graduating from this graduate school.
Everything that I learned in graduate school is essential to executing real projects in the field. There, I’m required to discern what I have learned and assess the situation. Over the past year, I have identified many things about which I want to learn more in depth, as I came to realize where I am lacking. In order to become fully qualified worker and make contributions to the field of international health, merely having the knowledge or being in the field is not enough. I believe it is essential to learn the problems that are actually occurring in the field and identify solutions using your own critical thinking skills. It is necessary to continue studies in order to use high-quality materials and think critically. I also believe that you can continue studying after graduating from school only if you have a foundation that enables you to understand the logic and determine a study or research approach in the field of international health that reflects what you learned in school.
For those of you who are enrolling now, the next two years will be precious because you will be able to use this valuable time to study to your heart’s content. There will also be enthusiastic and kind instructors and fellow students who will share those two years with you.(Development consulting company)
Isn’t it because you know the fundamentals and basics that you can make choices, gather courage to jump in or throw something away, and then gradually shift to creation? I had worked as a nurse and provided care to individuals,striving for mutual growth until I enrolled in the graduate school. After that, I joined the JOCV. Through the involvement in nursing education and community cooperation in the Republic of Mozambique, I realized the importance of public health and decided to go to school, believing that an approach based on wisdom for groups is necessary. Once in graduate school, I academically and systematically gained an understanding of various fields. At the same time, I was able to study further by gaining a variety of experience in the fields of maternal and child health, as well as cultural anthropology, particularly through community-based projects and child group studies in the rural areas of the Republic of Kenya. I had opportunities to meet exciting people including professors and MPH students, and expand my views. These experiences have become great assets to me. Being able to learn the basic notion that “the language, information, activities, etc. can connect people and provide options” while honing on-site capabilities and practical skills, as well as having time for self reflection, turned out to be an extremely valuable experience.Today, after graduating the school, I am working as I was drawn to the human-centric approach that focuses on the role of connecting people to enable everyone to accept and internalize “health” and make choices based on their own will. With everyone’s support, I have gradually come to believe that mutual awareness and shared sentiments expressed through communication based on sufficient foundation and observation can lead to human development and actions. (Public interest incorporated foundation : JOICFP-Ghana)
We often do not understand what is happening in front of our eyes. There are things that you cannot understand and there are people who will try not to understand. We live in such a world. It is sad but true. However, I still want to try to understand. The bottom line is that I want to understand and learn, even when I’m told I won’t understand. The world is vast and small at the same time. Regardless of the fact that there are differences and things are disjointed, how can I make things better? What do I need to understand in order to find an answer that works for a given area? I believe everything depends on my own imagination. For that, I just have to venture to various places. This graduate school was a major step in that direction. There, I found many people, including instructors, who were struggling and contemplating with the same issues. Although groping in the dark, they were full of life. It made me think that life is fun because it is confusing. I felt much better knowing there are people who complain, but can rise above it.You cannot see what the next move is until you make the move.(WHO Vietnam Office: EPI consultant)
You borrow a rocking chair and take a break under the eaves of a village house. Then, a chicken comes around, hops onto the well-cleaned tiled floor, and leaves droppings. Suddenly, an old woman appears and quickly sweeps the droppings after covering them with furnace ash. Chicken droppings are pasty because they contain a lot of water. However, you can sweep them out because they harden when they are covered with ash. Being able to catch a glimpse of such daily wisdom is also part of the fun of being in the field. I have been involved in a project to control Chagas’ disease in Nicaragua in Central America since I completed the graduate school. I spend my day making the rounds of local health facilities, joining village activities to provide technical guidance, compiling field data to prepare reports, holding discussions with project stakeholders, and so on. It’s already been four years since I graduated from Nagasaki University Graduate School of International Health Development. I have recently come to believe that the philosophy of the graduate school “teach practices at university,” which is somewhat contradictory, is actually a sophisticated intellectual challenge as well. In order to develop practical individuals, it is necessary to ask questions such as “what knowledge is required in the field?” and “what are the methods that can produce that knowledge?” Asking yourself those questions while watching chickens is also part of the fun in the field.
JICA Nicaragua: Chagas’ disease control project expert
After I graduated from the university in which I was enrolled as a working adult, and seven years after I left the JOCV, I felt as though I wanted to become involved in international cooperation again. I enrolled in this graduate school to obtain an MPH as I believed, in addition to my experience as a midwife, that it was necessary to have knowledge in public health to work in the field of international health. After completing this study, fate led me to become a specialist for a JICA project for the second time. The notion of “health” is simple, but you cannot understand a phenomenon in front of you from multiple perspectives unless you have a broad perspective. The same is true for communication skills. In addition to the language skills, developing relationships with others is a key element of this work. It was during these two years in the graduate school that I learned how to integrate the knowledge and experience that I had gained in the past and utilize it in practice. What I have learned through meeting with and receiving support from very knowledgeable and experienced professors, fellow students with a variety of excellent attributes, and many people during internships and research has made me the professional I am today. I’m offering training now. Seeing these trainees who have grown rapidly over the past year inspires me to want to teach them much more. I need to continue
studying on a daily basis as I was taught by former Dean Aoki that I still have a lot to learn. Every day I am learning various things from the local staff and other experts.
(The Project for Improving Maternal and Newborn Care through Midwifery Capacity Development, Cambodia, JICA)
I was prompted to become involved in international health when I joined the JOCV as a nurse. While I was drawn to the appeal of international cooperation through this work, I had many unpleasant experiences because working in the field required skills and knowledge that are different from what I gained in Japan. This is why I decided to enroll in this course.
During the first year, I had the opportunity to study the basics in a wide range of fields related to international health under the guidance of instructors who played active roles in various parts of the world. I had a fulfilling year as I was allowed to experience things that I was completely unaware of, including what skills I lacked and what kinds of knowledge and skills were required to work in the international field.
This year, I am going to do a long-term internship at the national NGO Plan International Kenya. I will work hard for eight months to convert the knowledge that I gained in the classroom to skills that can be utilized in practical settings as I work along with people from various countries.
In addition to preparing research proposals and attending classes every day, I visited many countries during the first year, including Bangladesh on a short-term internship, the Philippines on a short-term Campus Asia program, and Cambodia to assist my instructor’s research. It was very encouraging to be able to meet senior graduates of our graduate school who are already playing active roles in the field of international health in each country. It also made me realize the vast size of Nagasaki University’s network. I think the biggest appeal of this graduate school is the instructors who are always eager to teach and fellow students with whom you can inspire each other. Moreover, one year in Nagasaki provided an opportunity to assess the framework of global health and consider the health of Japan,a country that features universal healthcare insurance, the longest average life expectancy, and aging population with declining birthrate, in comparison to developing countries. This made me very conscious of the purpose of studying public health in Japan and the role of Japanese individuals working in the field of international health.
Now, I have just begun a long-term internship in Bangladesh which I visited last summer. I plan to work on my research project while assisting with maternal and child health projects in the rural areas and urban slums. Although I am sometimes bewildered by the unfamiliar environment in the Islamic society, I intend to spend each day appreciating the experience gained in the field and the thought process created based on that experience, believing that the difficulties will strengthen my future abilities.