MSc Humanitarian Studies and International Public Health, 2016.
I am currently based in the Philippines as the Executive Director of an NGO called Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes or AIHO. We are a mentoring and consulting organization that works to “Enable People to Make Health Systems work for People.”
Tell us about your time at LSTM
I started working in the Humanitarian nexus in 2013 with Super Typhoon Haiyan as a medical doctor in a mobile clinic then shifted to public health interventions including policy making. Mostly I work with WHO Philippines and Save the Children International for different deployments. I was in the Himalayas, responding to the Nepal earthquake of 2015, when I received a call from the Philippine British Embassy that I got the Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK. I applied and got accepted in two programs in LSTM – Humanitarian Studies and International Public Health-Humanitarian Assistance. I ended up taking public health track.
With some new found friends, we started a Knowledge Experience Sharing (KES) sessions, where any student can share their past experiences in the field. We had some interesting sessions, from working in Sudden Onset Disasters to protracted crises and even perspectives on civil-military operations.
The location of LSTM is perfect for someone who loves history and culture. With classmates and colleagues, I enjoyed exploring the outdoors and pubs in between classes.
Outside LSTM I joined the Amathus Dragon Boat team at the waterfront, where I rekindled my love for the sport after almost 10 years. I was even fortunate to join national British competition and placed top 2 in different races.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving LSTM
Since LSTM, I try to balance health systems and policy work, humanitarian work and teaching. Aside from being the executive director of AIHO, I have been involved in developing and teaching in DRR and humanitarian courses in various institutions – Asian Institute of Management, Miriam College, UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, among others. Right after LSTM, I came home and I was deployed to help in the rehabilitation and recovery of a Philippine City after a siege by ISIS. I also was deployed in Bangladesh to oversee a primary health care centre by Save the Children for the Rohingya Refugees.
But at times, it is not easy to just leave and be deployed when risks and crisis strikes close to home. In 2020, I was called up to go back to Bangladesh in preparation for COVID-19. I had to decline as I started to lead AIHO, and the Philippines needed all hands on deck to keep the cases at bay. Over a year after, we are not out of the woods yet, but we are happy to say that the organizations’ involvement in policy and implementation guides have buffered the impact of COVID in the country.
What three words would you use to describe LSTM?
What advice would you give to our current/prospective students?
One major decision point for me to come to the UK and LSTM for further studies is the quality of the students. The experiences of the students were so vast, yet they are were grounded and easy to connect with. For those who are still thinking of going to LSTM, trust that you will meet and connect with people from across the world. And you will learn from them, inside and outside the classrooms. You will also enjoy the environment with them, whether it be on the topic of public health, politics, music and booze. The discussion is not all about the weather.
To the current students, get to know your classmates. Explore Liverpool and the UK with them. Talk and engage with your professors outside of the class. Find the opportunity to learn from their experiences in the field, in research and in life.