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A head and shoulders photo of IHTM student Li Ann Ong

Li Ann Ong (IHTM 2018)

DPhil: Transcending Sectoral Silos with Implementation Science for Transformative WASH Services in Bangladesh Healthcare Facilities, School of Geography, University of Oxford.

Li Ann grew up in Malaysia and is a medical doctor. Before IHTM she worked in intensive care in the UK and Australia and volunteered in cardiac surgical missions to the Pacific Islands and India. Li Ann’s main interest was working with the rural Indigenous Communities in Australia, and she spent time with the Australian Flying Doctors Services specialising in retrieval medicine in the Australian outback.

Li Ann was disheartened by the cycle of illnesses afflicting the communities being temporarily fixed with clinical services, only for patients to succumb again to ill health as the underlying drivers such as socio-economic deprivation and an unsafe living environment perpetuated. She realised that there was only a finite amount she could do as a clinician and therefore looked to further her skills and change direction to have a wider, more holistic approach to health care.

During the MSc, Li Ann undertook her research placement working with UNICEF in Bangladesh looking at the impact of environmental hygiene on healthcare infection prevention and control. This work led to her working as a consultant with UNICEF Bangladesh for a cross-sectoral COVID-19 response project, and then to her DPhil which is researching the water quality in a number of Bangladesh government hospitals, again in partnership with UNICEF.

Li Ann says

“Without IHTM it would have been difficult to bridge the gap between being a clinician and working with organisations such as the UN looking at healthcare structures, governance and policies. IHTM gave me both the access and also the skills to change direction.” 

IHTM taught Li Ann to reflect on how she approached a problem and to refine and engage with evidence. It also emphasised the importance of good communication skills in effectively reaching non-academic audiences.

The last word
“IHTM gave me a wide-ranging understanding of global health issues. It taught me to be broad minded and to use a multi-faceted approach to a problem. The MSc gave me the platform on which to build the next step of my career in global health.” 

Find out more about Li Ann’s work on WASH in healthcare facilities.