Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine Lunchtime Seminar Series cum Ethnic Minority Health Project Experience Sharing: Reducing Vulnerabilities in a Qiang Ethnic Minority Rural Community

CCOUC led a team of 50 trainers and trainees to Xiuxi Village, Puxi Township, Li County, Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province from 21 to 25 June 2019. Upon return, four trainees delivered a sharing session on behalf of the team at the Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine Lunchtime Seminar Series cum Ethnic Minority Health Project Experience Sharing on 27 June 2019. Professor Poon Wai-yin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the CUHK, Dr. Ryoma Kayano, Technical Officer of the WHO Kobe Center, and over 40 students and staff of the CUHK attended the sharing.

Trainees including Winson Leung, Cecilia Leung, Venus Liao and Carol Li started the sharing session with an introduction of the Xiuxi Village. Located in remote rural Sichuan, the Qiang village of Xiuxi is disaster-prone and frequently hit by earthquakes and landslides. It was heavily damaged in the 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 and the current village is a post-disaster reconstruction of the original. Compared to previous health interventions in rural villages, this visit was unique in including immediate post-household survey data entry and analysis for certain key questions highly relevant to the health intervention content, thus allowing trainees to gain insights into the actual health situation of Xiuxi village and improve their subsequent health interventions in the following day. The four trainees emphasised the significance of having immediate data feedback to allow localising the content of the health education, which was crucial for the delivery of an effective intervention.

Reflecting after the health intervention, the trainees had a sense of achievement when seeing over 70 villagers took out the exercise band distributed beforehand and followed the stretching exercise taught by the team. Moreover, they thought that health education through role plays and songs was effective in arousing the interest of villagers to better promote some basic public health concepts. Nevertheless, they mentioned the difficulties arising from the lack of prior understanding of the village context, e.g. the health intervention content might be too difficult for the villagers’ understanding, who generally only possess basic literacy.

Concluding this trip, the trainees showed a picture taken from the 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake Epicenter Yingxiu Memorial, showcasing their reflection that life is indeed unpredictable under disasters. Therefore, it is up to people to prepare for disasters, to deal with them with resilience and flexibility.