Aug 20, 2009

Let's Take ACTION - Part 1

ACTION (Asian Collaborative Training for Infectious Disease, Outbreaks, Natural Disasters and Refugee Management) is a project pioneered under our beloved IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Students' Association) to promote and educate knowledge regarding disaster management and skills for medical students to apply during disease outbreaks.
Much of what medical students are learning now originates from the West, which emphasizes less on large-scale disaster and refugee training. In spite of the shortcoming, the Asia-Pacific region is densely populated and very prone to natural disaster as well as disease outbreaks, just take SARS and the very recent Typhoon Morakot as your example.
Personally I think medical students and medical professionals have the responsibility to upheld basic health and order during times of turbulence. It is with this thought that most of us enrolled in the convention, the fourth since its inception, and held in Jakarta, its birth place since 2006.

Flight 711 to Jakarta leaves Kuala Lumpur at 9.10am, which means an unearthly 5am awakening for me in Penang.

Upon arrival in Jakarta I went to the pre-determined position to look for my pick-up person. Nobody turned up and I started to panic. These things usually happen to me, even when I was in France. To add to the icing, I forgot to get a copy of contact details for the local chair nor the Taiwanese committee head. In the period of 3 hours, I was encountered by pimps, pick-up persons for an international swimming competition, a Chinese family waiting for their long-lost father, many hotel pick-up boys and countless taxi drivers...It wasn't the best first 3 hours in Jakarta.
Thank God I spotted 'ACTION 2009' at 2pm (landed at 10.30). Folded and soiled on an A4 paper with several ladies sitting and chatting at McDonalds. I was just too relieved not to spend my 6 days laying around being a beggar. So I went with them and pepped myself up for the evening...

Welcoming party. Hosts are very professional, and good-looking...

Medicine is a bourgeois profession. The old old grandfathers of medicine didn't have any idea how much a suit would cost an average medical student in this era of materialism.

The following morning we kickstarted our convention with several lectures. Entrance to the Faculty of Medicine building in University of Indonesia.

Followed by a brief but compact plennary presentation by Hong Kong delegates, both from HKU.

And a poster design competition...we in Group 2 were lucky to have HIV/AIDS as our theme, which was very easy to manipulate.

Prevent HIV with a condom / It's that simple. / Safe sex saves lives. We won second place.

Dinner was something to look forward to, local restaurants and lots of time for chit-chat.

People with milder taste buds cannot stand the rich spices though. Japanese delegates were suffering with gallons of water and diarrhea afterwards but Indonesian delegates were teaching us the difference between 'hot' and 'spicy'.

The next day we went to Sulianti Saroso Hospital, a specialist hospital for infectious diseases.

As it is infectious...

Donning the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is a first for many people. However, due to the lavish costs they only prepared one.

Soon we were covering 'Area Merah' (Red Zone), specifically isolation and quarantine wards for patients with infectious disease. We were lucky not to (or unlucky?) have any patients that day, so we have complete access to all the wards.

This is a quarantine ward. If you have symptoms of influenza, be responsible and stay at home; or else you'd spend 7 days - 7 long, hard days in this tiny room with just a 12-inch screen to entertain you.

As the wards are empty, the staff are quite easy-going too.

See the crowd in this little facility?

Next up: Jakarta City Center, more lectures and trans-national friendships.