Public Health Study Tour (PHST)

Hayden Fletcher is a student from UNSW Australia. Hayden undertook the Public Health Study Tour in November – December 2018 as part of his postgraduate degree.

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

I chose to undertake ACICIS’ Public Health Study Tour (PHST) to have the experience of learning about public health concepts and challenges within the Indonesian health system while also having the opportunity to travel around different regions of Indonesia that I would not have thought to visit otherwise.

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

As a postgraduate student, I was not eligible for the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. However, many universities have funding arrangements for postgraduate students to support you on programs like the PHST.

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

Being out of my comfort zone! I had not visited Indonesia before attending the PHST! Furthermore, it was a challenge to learn about the challenges of the Indonesian health system without imposing my own personal experiences on their unique health system. I found that really difficult at times, but the experience has allowed for me to be more insightful about how to tackle these challenges.

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

Indonesia is experiencing rapid social and economic change. As an emerging economy, Indonesia is implementing a variety of strategies to support and enhance the health of the Indonesian population with initiative such as the JKN (Universal Health Care – UHC). The implementation of the JKN is an interesting (albeit complex) public health issue in Indonesia and I will be keen to follow the progression of UHC during 2019 – the final year in its intended implementation timeline!

While there have been some positive programs implemented in Indonesia, there exists structural inequality that inhibits the capacity of Indonesian people to access health services and ultimately make informed decisions about their health and well-being. This extends to levels of education attainment, inherent gender and sexuality bias, sanitation and environment.

Q: Which was your favourite field trip?

During the PHST, our group visited the YAKKUM Mental Health and Disability Rehabilitation Centre in Yogkyakarta. YAKKUM staff deliver a variety of programs around physical and psycho-social disability to Indonesian individuals and their families and carers of all ages and levels of functional impairment. They also implement community development programs across local districts and advocate for the rights of individuals with a physical or psycho-social disability.

Given that I work with a mental health service in Australia, what I enjoyed was the opportunity to check out the facilities and hang out with the staff and clients who are engaged with the variety of programs YAKKUM offers, including a special needs school, community development, strategic advocacy, vocational training, prosthetic and mobility aid manufacturing.

At the end of the PHST, our tour group raised nearly $500.00 (AUD) to donate to the YAKKUM Centre to help them continue the work they are doing in the community.

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

Up until recently I had not considered exploring International Health as an area of study or a career path. Since completing the PHST, the experiences have allowed me to reflect on my career path. In doing so, I have enrolled in subjects at UNSW that delve into International Health issues. This will allow me to further consider whether this career path is something suited to me.

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

The seminar series provided a selection of well-known Indonesian academics from Universitas Indonesia (UI) across a variety of topics related to the unique health needs of Indonesia. In addition we had lectures delivered by local primary care services (Puskesmas and Posyandu) and NGOs that advocate for the health needs of marginalised Indonesians. The variety of speakers was definitely the highlight.

Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

Travel and meeting really awesome people along the way. An honourable mention should go to the availability of bubble tea options in Indonesia. I think I might have developed an addiction since arriving home…