Time really flies by very fast and it is hard to believe that it has been exactly one year since I embarked on the journey of MPhil in International Community Health.
It has been a year full of learning, challenges and thought-provoking ideas. I thought what a better way to start my blog posts than with some reflections from the past year at the University of Oslo (UiO).
I just came from a trip in Bangladesh a month ago and on my ride from the airport to my friend’s place’s house, I noticed an ad on a bus that immediately took me to the class lectures and group discussions at UiO. Bellow is a picture of the ad.
In a very old and rusty bus with a picture of a modern couple the ad says: “Motherhood is Unique: Let’s Make it safe.” I immediately started to ponder who is the target of this ad/campaign? Is it the policy-makers who will never take public transport in a country torn by economic hierarchy? Or is it the general population of a country that barely 70% of its people can read? It also made me wonder whether this campaign ad has actually been pre-tested on the target population. What would a woman in the village where she does not have access to basic health care think of the couple in the ad? Would she understand that this is to safe her life? How much of change will an ad like this change to the maternal mortality in Bangladesh?
It was what seems like a simple ad on a bus that made me appreciate all the long discussions I had with my classmates during the past year. I do believe that I may not have been able to notice this ad altogether hadn’t I taken a health communication course where we talked at length about different strategies for health awareness. It also made me realize how much I have actually gained from the course and how reflective I have become about things around me; things that I would otherwise take for granted.
Yes there were many grueling days before deadlines for the exams, but when you go outside the classroom and into the real world; you do understand the value of a setting that teaches you critical thinking. My first year of the MPhil has certainly given the tools necessary to think critically on health and society.
The past year has truly ignited a passion in me to study and observe the many complex ways of interactions between illness, health and social contexts. I never thought that medicine could ever venture into the realm of social and cultural codes. But I was totally wrong; I learned that the two are tied to the hip.
After one year of learning so much in this program, I can only imagine how more I will gain in the coming year especially being in the field to do research on my own.