Larson, Eva


Preventing childhood injuries in Malaysia: Piloting a home environment risk assessment and mitigation program

The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) is currently working with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to address the knowledge gap regarding childhood home injuries. The project has the following specific objectives: 1) develop and pilot-test an injury hazard assessment module appropriate for an urban developing-country setting; 2) develop and pilot test an educational pamphlet regarding the importance and methodologies to reduce injury hazards in the home; and 3) develop and pilot test a home-based tutorial program for its feasibility and acceptability as a means of disseminating home safety information.     

Global Health Mentor: Abdul Bachani,  Associate director of Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit

Before my trip to Malaysia, I was extremely nervous and excited. I had never travelled abroad (I didn’t even get a passport until a couple months before the GHEFP application was due!). I had no idea what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur. While there were indications that the country was still developing, there were many characteristics of the capital city that reminded me of home, like nosy traffic and Starbucks coffee. I was also grateful that a large portion of the population spoke English. This made communicating in the office and in my day-to-day encounters much easier.

I had the opportunity to learn about Malaysian culture. A large portion of the population is Muslim so I had to be sure to respect their culture by dressing appropriately. Ramadan, a four-week-long sacred time for Muslims during which they fast during the daytime, occurred during the second half of my stay. I was nervous at the start since I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable by consuming food or liquids in front of them during the fasting period. However, the men and women in the office were very open and taught me a lot! They even brought in various yummy Malaysia delicacies for me to try!

The GHEFP put all of the knowledge I had previous acquired on global health into perspective. Accurately picturing the conditions in other country is difficult when all of your information is coming from a textbook. However, living in Malaysia provided me with insight into the challenges citizens face in a developing country.

My favorite experience of the trip was a day I spent with research assistants from the office.  A group of five research assistants invited me on an adventure to Shah Alam Taman Pertanian Malaysia and the Selangor State Mosque. They picked me up from my housing accommodations and brought me to a local restaurant for a traditional Malaysian breakfast. Next, we went to Shah Alam Taman Pertanian Malaysia, a large park consisting of an animal park, ideal village, rice paddies and more. We spent the morning exploring the various sections of the park. Then, we headed to a nearby eatery famous for its ABC, a popular Malaysian dessert. After trying the local delicacy, we visited the Selangor State Mosque. I was provided with proper attire to wear over my clothing before entering the mosque. I was inspired by the amount of men, women and children dedicating their Saturday afternoon to their religious practice.

One of the biggest healthcare challenges citizens in Malaysia face is wait time. The Malaysian government subsidizes healthcare for all citizens so receiving care in a government facility requires very little, if any, out-of-pocket expenses. Therefore, most people go to government hospitals, as opposed to the expensive private hospitals and healthcare offices, where must wait a long time to get seen by physicians. This problem was evident by the crowds I observed on my visits to a government hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

The health system in Malaysia is much different than the health system in the United States. While Malaysian citizens don’t face many financial barriers to receiving healthcare, they are forced to make sacrifices with regards to the timing of their healthcare.  On the other hand, in the US, healthcare can be very expensive, but for those with insurance wait times tend to be more reasonable and care is received in a timelier manner.

I highly recommend the Global Health Established Field Placements for any students interested in healthcare or global health. The experiences and knowledge you obtain are priceless! 

My supervisor in Kuala Lumpur, Miza was incredible! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to work with her:

Research assistants and I posed for a picture while relaxing near rice paddies at Shah Alam Taman Pertanian Malaysia:

Research assistants from the office introduced me to a traditional Malaysian breakfast at a local eatery:

I had the opportunity to work at a government hospital, Hospital Sungai Bulooh, in Kuala Lumpur:

Doing data entry and quality assurance was made more difficult due to the language barrier, but I caught on quickly!


November 2022



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