Health, Economic and Long-term Social Impact of Injuries (HEALS) Study
The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) is currently working to develop an innovative tool and data collection approaches to assess the long-term social, economic, and health consequences of traumatic injuries in a LMIC setting.
The study has the following specific objectives:
1. To develop and implement a tool to examine the long-term health (prevalence, severity and duration of disability), social, and economic impact of traumatic non-fatal injuries;
2. To develop and implement an electronic data collection and monitoring module using the new tool for capturing traumatic injuries and following individuals over time, for use in LMICs.
3. To document pilot data on the long-term burden of traumatic non-fatal injuries in a multi-site study.
Global Health Mentor:
Associate Director, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit
My GHEFP placement is in Hanoi, Vietnam. I spent four months working as a student coordinator for the Long-term Health, Economic, and Social Impacts of Injuries (HEALS) Study, a cross-country project aiming to access consequences of traumatic injuries in low-and middle-income countries. My primary mentor is Dr. Abdulgafoor Bachani in Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JHU-IIR), and the local team I was working with is the Center for Injury Policy and Prevention Research (CIPPR), Hanoi School of Public Health (HSPH).
The first thing impressed me upon arrival is the traffic in Hanoi – the newly built city roads are overloaded with motorcycles, taxis, buses and street vendors, drivers switching from different lanes as they want, people crossing the streets skillfully without even a glimpse of the traffic light. I was so scared to cross the streets during my first a few days in Hanoi, and it seemed surprising to me that although the traffic is somewhat chaotic, people living in Hanoi has adapted himself /herself to it and figured out efficient ways dealing with the traffic in their everyday life. This gave me the very first impression about traffic and road safety issues in Hanoi, which I think is very helpful and relevant to my research projects.
I primarily worked on two projects during my four-month stay in Vietnam. The first one is the HEALS study, an ongoing project intended to understand the long-term impact of traumatic injuries in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. I worked with researchers in Hanoi School of Public Health in literature review, quality assurance activities and preliminary analysis of pilot data. The other project I was working on during my placement is the analysis of a 5-year time-series data in the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) on drink driving that collected in three cities in Vietnam. Both of the two projects shaped my understanding in the injury burden and related social and behavioral factors in Vietnam, and improved my skills in conducting research and data analysis.
In addition to these two research projects, I was also able to participate in daily work in the Center for Injury Policy and Prevention Research (CIPPR) in Hanoi School of Public Health. During my stay, I collaborated with researchers in CIPPR to edit and revise a training manual in injury prevention and facilitated a regional workshop in injury and violence prevention that held by CIPPR with 30 participants from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which all provided me a great opportunity to gain practical experiences in research institute within a global context. My field visits to provincial hospital and national trauma care center in Hanoi also enabled me to have a closer look at the trauma care system in Vietnam.
Prior to my placement, I was anxious about my 4-mouth stay in Vietnam, a country that I knew little about. As I grew up in China and had several trips to Southeast Asia countries before, I did not experience much culture shock in Vietnam. But language is a major challenge to me because all research was conducted in Vietnamese, so it took some time for my local partners to help me familiarize with it. I did learn some Vietnamese during my stay, but I think it would be more helpful if I could learn some basic Vietnamese before starting doing the placement.
Life in Hanoi was very meaningful and fun. I got to know some public health professionals from both local NGOs and international organizations during my work. Chatting with them definitely provided me valuable insight in doing global health work in Vietnam as well as other developing countries. I was also able to have some wonderful trips to Northern Vietnam, Central Vietnam and Laos, become friends with local people as well as expats, and experience Vietnamese cultural festivals.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to complete my practicum in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was definitely a rewarding experience, through which I developed meaningful understanding in disease burden and health system in Vietnam and gained practical experiences in conducting research in low-and middle-income settings. And my placement in Vietnam reinforces my interests in working on health promotion in Southeast Asia Regions.