Zia from Indonesia

Working with the World Health Organisation to help combat malaria since completing a Master of Public Health degree.

A bit about me 

Hi, I’m Zia. I am from Indonesia. I love cooking, strolling around and having a nap. (Yes, you are correct, napping is important to boost productivity). 

My university experience

I initially studied a Bachelor of Public Health at Universitas Indonesia, focusing on Epidemiology, and hadn’t planned to study in Australia. 

However, I was working in malaria program review and health systems in Indonesia, and I wanted to find a university that offered a health system course.

When I was searching for a university, I prioritised the program and subjects. However, I also considered the English preparation course and the safety of the country. I also wanted a university that takes care of the mental health and well-being of the students.

I chose to study a Master in Public Health The University of Melbourne which I really enjoyed.

I loved how the lecturers would challenge us to think critically and to look at something from multiple perspectives, especially public health case studies. It encouraged me to explore ideas and to find public health solutions.

I believe it was the knowledge I gained from my time at The University of Melbourne that helped me in my interview with the World Health Organisation. And today, it still helps me whenever I am solving a problem with my team.

To be honest, I miss the lectures, academic atmosphere and the insightful discussions.

Helping to combat malaria

I am currently working at the World Health Organisation in Laos to help combat malaria. 

ASEAN countries have set a target to achieve malaria elimination by 2030. However, Laos has a target to eliminate malaria plasmodium falciparum by 2023. So, I provide support to accelerate elimination in high-burdened provinces. 

In Laos, the majority of the population at risk for malaria come from an ethnic minority.  I learned quite a lot about ethnic minorities in the context of prevention and treatment at university. I really enjoyed this aspect of my studies and I'm so glad that I have been able to apply this knowledge. 

When the pandemic began, I was assigned to support a COVID-19 response team in a province. But at the same time, some remote villages had malaria outbreaks which I had to prioritise. If we had stopped monitoring and maintaining the prevention and treatment during the crisis, we could have lost years of progress.

My passion for helping others and the planet  

I am passionate about strengthening the health system in resource-limited settings and enjoy working with governments to improve community health and attain global health objectives. 

I am committed to public health and to helping as many people as possible, wherever I am and whatever my position is. 

We live on a damaged planet with environmental degradation, overpopulation and over-consumption. It is worsened by emerging diseases, antibiotic and anti-parasitic resistance, as well as the pandemic. 

So what we can do?  

We can be responsible, mindful and kind human beings. We should be conscious that what we do will have an impact on our lives and others. 

In the next 10 years, I want to work as an international expert in strengthening health systems, with the UN or an international organisation.  

My advice for prospective students 

Find your “why”, be brave, take a risk. 

Embrace your journey in public health and celebrate the process.