Professor Yaw-Huei Hwang, Chair of Department of Public Health, NTU, went to Malawi in August this year to visit Tzu-Hsuan Hung (洪梓瑄) and Chin-Hsuan Tseng (曾靖軒), third year students with Public Health major who are currently doing their summer internship at Malawi. Since 2012, this is the fifth year in which students from NTU CPH have been applying to Malawi for global health internship.
This global health internship program is conducted by Luke International (LIN), an international non-governmental organization established in Norway in 1997 with independent Christian principles. Having close ties with Pingtung Christian Hospital, LIN works to restore human’s health and dignity through building bridges between local and international development partners. LIN’s office in Malawi was founded in 2008, focusing on three main diseases at the area: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hypertension. The development goals include strengthening health informatics, building research and development competencies in global health, and supporting the quality of life and community development of HIV/AIDS patients. LIN has collaborative projects with CDC of the United States, World Health Organization, Ministry of health of Malawi and a number of international non-governmental organizations, providing students with abundant learning content.
Tzu-Hsuan Hung and Chin-Hsuan Tseng, the two public health undergraduate students who started staying in Malawi this year, have been doing their internships for approximately ten weeks from June to September. The main duty they have participated this time was on strengthening health informatics of Malawi. By referring to the international classification of diseases (ICD 10), they assisted with planning Malawi’s disease codes on computer, serving as the basis for national disease informatics management in the future.
During their internships in Muzuzu, the third biggest city in Malawi, they participated in “Supporting LIFE”, a project that LIN and a research team from European Union are executing together in Malawi. This project, also known as Health Surveillance Assistant, uses cell phone software to assist the local health workers to take care of patients or children under five years old. The software allows the health workers to determine the patient or child’s health condition and helps keep the records. The roles of the interns are to conduct field research including testing the cell phone software functions and testing GPS functions in the area.
Photo 1: Joseph Tsung Shu Wu, the Malawi Office Director of Luke International Norway (Left), advising the interns about the steps of testing cell phone APP.
In promoting community group development projects, LIN integrated the medical resources provided by Bjorgaas Social Welfare Foundation and Pingtung Christian Hospital. Their joint projects include providing scholarships to aid children in elementary to middle school in Malawi, advising communities to conduct health promotion activities for teens, promoting HIV/AIDS prevention education and developing community financial activities for vulnerable groups. Along with the interns, Professor Yaw-Huei Hwang also participated in the volleyball training class hosted together by LIN and a local volleyball organization. Local elementary and middle school students were invited to join the weekly volleyball training class; LIN would then arrange health promotion activities after the weekly volleyball training class. For instance, in the week that Professor Yaw-Huei Hwang participated, the topic of the health promotion was on building concepts of preventing AIDS. After the activity, a group of women in the community who were also advised by LIN provided soybean milk for the participants. Children who answered the quiz correctly and the fastest received a department shirt from NTU Public Health as a souvenir.
Photo 2: Volleyball training class with teens in the community
Photo 3: Teens drinking soybean milk after volleyball training class
Photo 4: Two interns from NTU granting children who won the quiz game shirts from NTU Department of Public Health
Photo 5: A group photo taken after the event. Chin-Hsuan Tseng (top row; 2nd from left), Tzu-Hsuan Hung (bottom row; 1st from left)
LIN and Bjorgaas Social Welfare Foundation developed a special charitable model called Charity Travel, inviting tour groups from Taiwan to visit Malawi. The main travel itinerary of the tour group is not about conventional sightseeing. Rather, it is designed for the tourists to understand and experience the social service PingTung Christian Hospital and Bjorgaas Social Welfare Foundation have been promoting in the area. A portion of the vacation fees of tour group is provided to the community development projects.
Professor Yaw-Huei Hwang and the NTU interns had the opportunity to be engaged in a Charity Travel. One of its agendas was to visit the coffee plantation that runs under fair trade structure. Along with the tourists, they experienced planting and harvesting at a coffee farm and the production process of coffee beans from drying, milling to roasting the beans. They also learned about how local coffee farm organizations operate their profit management and resource allocation. One interesting fact is that the coffee beans produced at local areas in Malawi are divided into “women’s beans” and “men’s beans”. This is because some buyers would purchase the coffee beans produced by women with a higher price and request to transfer the profit directly to these women, contributing to the financial source of the local female coffee bean workers.
Photo 6: Interns assisting with harvesting cherries.
Photo 7: Interns (two on the left) examining the drying process of raw coffee beans
On behalf of NTU CPH, we would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Joseph Tsung Shu Wu, who has been working at Malawi office for a long period of time, as well as Hsin-yi Lee (李信宜), an alumnus from NTU, for advising the NTU interns in the past year with their profession and passion. We look forward to having more international internship opportunities like these for the students in CPH to experience environment abroad and learn about the operation models of international organizations.
Photo 8: Group photo of Professor Yaw-Huei Hwang (Left), Chin-Hsuan Tseng, intern (2nd from left), Tzu-Hsuan Hung, intern (2nd from right) and Director Hsin-yi Lee(李信宜) (right)
Other highlights about the local culture
Photo 9: It was common to see women carrying heavy objects that were as heavy as 5, 10 or even 20 kilograms on their heads.
Photo 10: The colors and styles of the objects being carried on their heads can be very diversified.