Public Health Study Tour (PHST)

Fotis Manessis is a New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from RMIT University. Fotis undertook the Public Health Study Tour in July 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Public Health Study Tour?

Because I have never travelled before. I had heard great things about Indonesia. It was government funded and it was beneficial to my career in nursing.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

Yes, I received the $3,000 New Colombo Plan mobility grant. It was easy to obtain and it helped me afford the whole experience – it made it possible for me to go to Indonesia.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the PHST?

As a first time traveller I found it hard to organise myself in preparation for the trip – luckily I had my fiancee’s help 🙂.

All challenges that I faced such as language, directions, academic, food, health, medical, travel, were all managed through the undying support of the ACICIS staff, Indonesian university students and most importantly the Indonesian people as a whole (very welcoming people).

Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?

I have learned so much from this experience. The issues I have become aware of are water sanitation problems, health literacy of the average Indonesian, gender bias/violence, child pregnancy, child/maternal health issues (such as lack of access to services), dengue and malaria, the foreseen aging population by 2035, food contamination, HIV etc. They all were very interesting to me.

Q: Which was your favourite field trip?

I loved them all, but if I had to choose one, and only one, I would say my trip to Eliminate Dengue Project (EDP). EDP is a research facility in Jogjakarta which houses mosquitoes and breeds them with wolbachia (a bacteria which destroys their ability to transmit dengue to humans thus eliminating the spread of dengue). It was awesome because I got the chance to feed 300 female mosquitoes with my blood, which aided in the great cause 🙂.

Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

It helped me realise the importance of cross-cultural learning because we are all brothers and sisters no matter where we are from. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people in the health industry from Australia and from Indonesia. It also opened my eyes to the world. I learned how to interpret journal articles and the Australian healthcare system through the seminars organised by ACICIS and the Ministry of Health. This all will make me a better nurse in my future practice and my future studies. I grew so much.

Q: What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?

As stated above, I learned so much by listening to all the seminars and doing all the set readings. It opened my eyes.

I really loved meeting the students, people from the Ministry of Health and other prominent Indonesians in the health care industry. I made friends that will last forever and also potential future colleagues in the health care industry. I learned so much from them.

Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

Meeting the Indonesian people and being so welcomed and taken care of. It really helped break the negative stigma that Australia has of Indonesia. The food was amazing, ACICIS was amazing and the University students were amazing. All the friends that I made was my favourite aspect.

Lastly, I learned that Indonesia is more advanced than I originally thought, which has lead me to believe that Indonesia has a bright future. Salamat malam.