The Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC) conducts research, teaching, and engages in knowledge transfer projects in public health and medical disaster response, with an aim to enhance the disaster epidemiology profile in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region.
The Nuffield Department of Medicine engages with many countries around the world in a variety of ways, including: NDM’s academics co-authoring papers with collaborators across the world; conducting research projects overseas; collaborative research centres and laboratories; a subsidiary company office in Beijing; and the department’s own Tropical Medicine units in Kenya and Southeast Asia.
Professor Eng-Kiong Yeoh: It provides the unique opportunity for students to appreciate the scale of human suffering caused by disasters and to experience and to understand how human caring response can mitigate the disastrous effects and prevent adverse effects on health.
Professor Emily Chan: Among many learning objectives of this humanitarian minority programme, the most important theme we wish to engage our students to do is for them to take their first steps in to their humanitarian journey.
Professor Joseph Sung: I have no doubts that this is a very unique project at this university. It is not just another high-tech molecular biology laboratory. As you have heard, it is a molecular biology laboratory built in real life that helps real people by very simple things such as personal hygiene and public health. I am very glad that our two institutions can match continued support for this endeavour.
Professor Andrew Hamilton: It is very important work because it allows us to bring an academic rigour in to the training of humanitarian crisis responders and that academic rigour improves the way that in which in this Asia region that difficulties, that crises, can be responded to and assistance can be provided.
Professor Sian Griffiths: It is very important that people get out in the field and actually have experience, particularly people who perhaps live in a city all their lives, to go to a really rural area to see what poverty really means and the problems that they read about.
EC: The minority project CCOUC has built over the past five years. This project in this setting is focusing on the Yi minority and this is the third trip that we have travelled to the region. We had the pleasure this time to invite Harvard School of Public Health Professor Jennifer Leaning and her colleagues to be here with us.
Dr Jennifer Leaning: My name is Jennifer Leaning and I am a physician and professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. I am collaborating through my centre, the FXB Centre at Harvard, with Professor Emily Chan and her humanitarian public health unit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The education programme is based on traditional rural village teaching, where minstrels and artists and other people of interest come to a village and they sit around and they have very good interactions. We are looking at the humanitarian enterprise in action.
AH: It is essential for Universities to commit themselves to develop the academic rigour that allows the training of outstanding technical expertise in the alleviation of crisis areas, in the alleviation of humanitarian challenges.
EC: As it turns out this is our fifth anniversary of the programme. We have been training a lot of students. We have invited colleagues, collaborators, volunteers and even families of our volunteers back with us in the project. I have to say that we are very proud to run this platform, so far we’ve had more than 300 people join us in the field and most important of all I think this project allows our students to see what they can do with their education and to allow the villagers to teach us what is important to them.
JL: This experience in the villages also allowed students to realise that they are experiencing some of the common aspects of humanitarian work in the field. This will contribute to the global classroom that is being created at CCOUC and will also establish the student understanding that humanitarian responders build a moral lifeline from themselves to the people suffering after a disaster.