Ethnic Minority Health Project Experience Sharing: Developing Health Intervention in Rural China – Expectation vs. Reality

During 24 to 29 June 2018, CCOUC led a team of 27 trainers and trainees to Liguang Village, Liming Township, Yulong County, Lijiang City, Yunnan Province to conduct public health and disaster preparedness health interventions for over 200 villagers and elementary school students. Upon return, two trainees delivered an intervention experience sharing session “Developing Health Intervention in Rural China – Expectation vs. Reality” for students and staff of The Chinese University of Hong Kong on 9 August 2018.

In the beginning of the session, the two trainees, Jocelyn Chan and Evan Shang, shared their experience and provided an overview on the development of eco-tourism in Liguang Village, which is a transitional community transitioning from an agriculture-oriented community to the development of eco-tourism. The village attracts tourists with its Danxia landform, a unique landscape with red bed characterised by steep cliffs, which can only be found in southeast, southwest and northwest China. To keep up with tourism and attract more visitors, new tourist inns and streets have been built to imitate ancient city. Public toilets have been constructed and recycling bins set up for tourists’ convenience even though the local villagers rarely used them. Despite their intents to become an eco-tourism hotspot and many young villagers being employed to work at the tourist area, tourism does not seem to bring much benefit to most of the villagers. Instead, some earn their livings by cultivating Chinese herbs and tobacco. The trainees have kept reflecting if eco-tourism upsets the public health of the village, and what are the sustainable solutions for both developments.

After that, they shared their intervention experience and what they had gained during the trip with the audience. In the 5-day trip, trainees have conducted household surveys and two interventions for primary school students and villagers respectively. During the household visits, the trainees had opportunities to understand more about the village and the health status of the villagers. Through observations and peers’ feedbacks, the trainees refined the intervention content to cater for the local context, which contributed to the success of health interventions. To develop an appropriate health intervention in rural context, the trainees learnt that the content of the intervention should be simple and key messages be repeated. They also recognised the importance of being observant during household visits. Lastly, they emphasised that logistics arrangement should be planned and prepared prior to the intervention notwithstanding the fact that the implementation of intervention could be easily affected by weather condition, venue, language barrier and lifestyle differences.

Through this trip, the trainees have had opportunities to experience and understand more about rural China by interacting with local villagers. They also recognised their limitations in the field and reflected how they could improve if they had chance to visit the site again.