As an employee of a social health insurance organization in Ghana, the need to have higher education in health financing and public health in general to better appreciate the socio-economic factors that influence health inequities (or equity) especially in less resourced countries was very apparent. Where to have that education, however, was not as much obvious. Well, that was, until my research discovered the School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nagasaki University.
Nagasaki University was a perfect match for me as its two-year public health course has a wide variety of courses handled by expert and skilled professors and allows students to select courses to fit their career aspirations or interest. The diversity in my class was very interesting and allowed for diversity in ideas and discussions on global health issues which helped me to appreciate how health challenges in different settings may require different health policy responses for effective resolution. However, the most appealing feature of the MPH program at the School for me is the requirement for students to undertake internship at reputable international global health organizations. This affords students the opportunity to practice, under the supervision and guidance of practicing global health experts, the theories and concepts they learn in the classroom. Of course, I can never forget the fulfilling and enriching learning and working experience I had at the Western Pacific Regional Office of the WHO in the Philippines during my internship there.
Making a good choice of university for one’s postgraduate education in public health can be very challenging: Nagasaki university however made my decision quiet an easy one and I enjoyed every single day of my stay there.
My experience in this school was beyond what I expected at the enrollment. Here we learnt various global health issues from faculty across disciplines during the 1st year. It provided us the wide knowledge of tropical medicine and public health, my perspective and interests expanded with every new module. Diversity of background and origin country of students is another remarkable characteristic of this school, we continuously discussed the health and social issues across the world and learnt from each other. The 2nd year was the next step to apply the knowledge gained in the 1st year and more focus on the research. I worked at WHO Philippines office as an intern and conducted data collection for master’s research in the Philippines. Through the steps for conducting the field research in abroad, we could obtain the basic skill of scientific research. In this year, I guess all students experienced some problems with their plan and felt discouraged. However, those challenges definitely taught us how to find a way of making it work and grew ourselves. I am thankful to constant support and guidance from faculty and staffs in this institute.
Apart from the academic experience, I cherish every moment I spent with classmates. The friendship is the biggest attainment in this school. I am proud to be in this great network and hope to see or work together someday and somewhere in the world.
Hello, my name is Takuya Shizume (right). I am a 1st batch, Master of Public Health candidate, Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nagasaki University.
I entered this Master of Public Health course to study disease prevention after working in the Solomon Islands as a Physiotherapist and a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer for 2 years. After the completion of this master degree, I am going to work in WHO/WPRO as a short-term consultant, and then in JICA as a full-time employee.
The most interesting part of this course is 5-month internship and 3-month research overseas (i.e. long term overseas practicum). In my case, I conducted 2-month internship in Asia Pacific Development center on Disability and 3-month internship in WHO Lao PDR country office. Regarding on my research, I conducted field survey on Schistosomiasis in southern Lao PDR in cooperation with Ministry of Health, Lao PDR.
I practically applied the acquired knowledge on statistics, epidemiology and data management etc to my field work during the internship and research. By doing so, I could have great field experiences and improve my skills in the field.
This study also enabled me to have good relationship with those who work in JICA, UN, Consultant company and NGOs. It also helped me to think about my future career.
In this 2-year course, you can spend precious time with precious friends and professors who have different expertise.
The experiences I went through as a 1st batch student of TMGH were more than what I had expected before I entered the School. Specialized lectures such as Tropical Medicine and Global Health, the practical skills gained through the long-term internship, and research activities which allowed me to pursue what I had wanted to demonstrate were every feature of my TMGH achievements. Every lecture held during the 1st year was essential to my internship and research activities conducted in the 2nd year, therefore, the learning process of TMGH which allowed students to gain knowledge and also practical skills is reasonable and rational.
The most distinguished feature of TMGH is the close guidance of the faculty staff. Many students had difficulties in the Statistics and Epidemiology modules, reading scientific papers, and developing their research, however, with the help of the faculty staff we could overcome those difficulties. Students could have fruitful discussions and receive advice from the professors at any time. TMGH considers every student important, respects their will, and helps them find a path which is suitable for them.
My classmates from all over the world have now become wonderful colleagues who I can rely on for support when I experience difficulties or anxieties. I would like to be a part of Global Health development to make the most of what I learned at TMGH.
I have been working as a project manager as part of an NGO for the Community Development with Indigenous Children in Mindanao project in the Philippines for one year. I have experienced a lot such as going to the project area, which was on a mountain, by motorbike, participating in discussions with stakeholders such as the Department of Education, and having long staff meetings at the office.
This is a comprehensive project containing three aspects, education, health, and livelihood. I am in charge of ‘livelihood’, but sometimes I feel anxious because it is the difficult to figure out how to ensure the sustainability of the project and produce results. In those times, however, I am encouraged by the team work of the Filipino staff and the mothers working hard for the group. They learn from this program and are optimistic, believing that, “We can find a way by continuing to learn”.
Even though I have gained a lot of experience from this project, this was only one step. I hope to keep learning about both health and community development in order to pursue a more effective approach to people-centered health projects.
(International Children’s Action Network (ICAN)(Philippines, Mindanao) )
One year has passed since I graduated from Nagasaki University, Graduate School of International Health Development. Now I work in Zambia on the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project. One of my goals, which was to work in the field of public health in Africa again after I left the JOCV, has finally come true.
During the course I was inspired by a message from Prof. Aoki, former dean of our course, who claimed that in the area of public health, we must see things from the view of both birds and earthworms, in other words, to see the entirety of the situations and issues from above and as an individual from the ground. This message was reinforced through the various lectures by our professors with their rich backgrounds. I learned that perceptions regarding diseases are based on the local culture and traditions, differing among various societies. Therefore, it is essential to take into account the context and setting when dealing with them.
Apart from the lectures, the internship during the second year of the course gave me more comprehensive and practical ideas on how we needed to construct our project in order to confront the issues with the help of the local people, and what expertise and skills were expected when in the field.
The project that I am currently engaged in in Zambia aims to prevent “the three delays” associated with maternal death by constructing maternity waiting houses and training the community health workers. I always remind myself to maintain the multiple perspectives that I gained in this course and take the opinions of local people into consideration for my project.
(JOICFP-Zambia, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) One stop service project in Zambia.)
Since completing my studies at the graduate school, I have been working as a clinical researcher in a public hospital located in a small city in Eastern Uganda alongside local NGOs and research organizations from the UK. Although I am trying my utmost to put into use the knowledge and experience I acquired from graduate school, and to open myself to new findings, there are many questions and challenges I face in the field every day.
I have come to the realization that simply applying practical knowledge to real life situations in the field is not enough. Aside from our work, professionals with knowledge and skills relating to international public health must also use what we know to maintain safe and healthy lives while living in developing countries. During my graduate school internship program to Nairobi, Kenya, I experienced first-hand the dangers of terrorism, so now I put great effort into keeping my mind calm and stable so that I can assess various international situations accurately.
Whenever I feel lost or anxious about my current situation, messages from my friends who are also working all over the world, and remembering the words from my graduate school professors encourage me and give me the strength to go forward. (214words)
(Researcher in private companies, Saraya Co.,Ltd, Saraya East Africa Co.,Ltd ,Uganda, Public Health Expert in The Overseas Human Resources and Industry Association: HIDA, Uganda)
I took part in the Japan Oversea Cooperation Volunteer program as a nurse in Senegal and felt the importance of international health cooperation. I also believed that being a part of that was a rewarding experience for me.
After coming back from Senegal, I entered this graduate school in order to acquire specialized knowledge and skills so that I can return to the field as an expert. I really enjoyed studying for two years surrounded by professors who have rich experiences and classmates from different backgrounds.
While I learned how to work as part of a team in the short-term field training, I also developed the capacity to work independently through the internship and my research. More than simply learning about international health, I grew as a person and learned about myself as well. Furthermore, I met a lot of people and learned from them while in school. This network will be useful for my future career. After graduating, I would like to work in an international health consulting firm and put what I learned in graduate school into practice.
(International Techno Center Co., Ltd.)
I enrolled in the Graduate School of International Health Development after finishing my volunteer program in Papua New Guinea. Through my volunteer experience as a physiotherapist, I faced the reality that a lot of disabled people are living with physical and psychological barriers in remote areas due to a lack of rehabilitation services. Motivated by my desire to become an expert who can be involved in drafting policies to help people with disabilities, I applied for this school.
In first year, I had many opportunities to learn about global health with great classmates, professors who had a lot of experience, and supportive administrative staff. The second year, long-term internship program has currently started at the WHO Regional Office in the Western Pacific. The rich experiences in this international organization will be the best chance for me to grow and improve. I will do the best that I can for my future.
I entered Nagasaki University’s graduate school as soon as I completed my undergraduate education. Initially, I was worried about my graduate studies because I did not have any experience in the health field, however my experienced professors put those fears to rest. They were very enthusiastic, as were my classmates, and after a year my anxiety faded away.
Aside from health related courses, the school provided us with lectures on a broad range of topics such as politics, economics, anthropology, etc. Moreover, they gave my classmates and I many opportunities to discuss what we learned. I am really appreciative that we could study under those circumstances.
Currently, I am staying in South Africa to do research as part of an internship. It is the first time for me to stay long-term abroad. I am sometimes faced with unexpected situations, however, I want to cooperate with the local people and do our best together.
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