World Health Organization (WHO) Internships and Local Internships

To increase international exposure and enrich learning experience, we are constantly working with local and international organizations to provide internship opportunities for current students in the areas of food safety, health promotion, and health economics. Please visit our website for updated information regarding internship opportunities.

World Health Organization (WHO) Internships Student Sharing

Jonathan Ng (Graduate of 2015-16)

Jonathan was selected an intern of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses at WHO, helping with the Food Safety Programme from Sep - Dec 2015.

WHO internship sharing forum 2016 Feb 12

None of the money: special internship opportunity

Processed meat and red meat were classified earlier as Group 1 and Group 2A carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), sparking worldwide controversy. While people in Hong Kong registered the news and began asking whether they should give up comfort foods like sausages and bacon, HKBU student Jonathan Ng was at the heart of the action at WHO headquarters in Geneva as one of the insiders.

“I was doing my internship at WHO headquarters from September to December last year when the report was released. My colleagues in WHO did in fact anticipate that the news would draw a high level of attention and had therefore made thorough preparations. As expected, once the news came out, tons of emails and enquiries flooded in asking for further elaboration on the scientific findings and the relationship between intake level and carcinogenic effects.”

Jonathan, who is studying for a master’s degree in Environmental and Public Health Management, competed against thousands of global applicants and was selected as a handful of interns in the WHO department of Food Safety and Zoonoses, helping to develop databases and learning tools to raise public awareness on food safety and the risk of foodborne diseases.

Prior to that, he worked as a registered pharmacist for over ten years after attaining his undergraduate degree in Pharmacy. “Expert knowledge is important to a pharmacist but I found that having gone deep into a particular area for a long period of time my focus area became rather niche. I want to go beyond the purely medical perspective and see things from a broader spectrum of disciplines, taking into consideration things such as climate change as well as environmental and social relationships. So, I took the master’s degree programme which enlightened me a lot. The WHO internship opportunity I got from it further brought me into the international arena. It’s an absolutely incredible experience.”

During the internship, Jonathan got the chance to speak to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. As the former Director of Health of Hong Kong, she handled the health issues of seven million Hong Kong citizens and now, after taking the helm as Director-General of WHO in Geneva, she is responsible for managing international public health issues that affect a global population of seven billion. Though not comparable to Dr Chan, Jonathan says as a Hong Kong citizen who worked in the headquarters in Geneva, he also has some reflections. “While I was working as a pharmacist, my daily duty was to give pharmacological advice to customers. After my internship with WHO, I realised that there are a lot more world issues associated with human health and public hygiene that we should commit our attention to.”

During his three months’ stay in Geneva, Jonathan attended various seminars and meetings, including the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues. There, he listened to world leading experts who shared views on toxicology and risk assessment of pesticide residue. “Many regions and countries follow the conclusions and guidelines made by these renowned experts in the meeting. I benefited a lot by sitting in this two-week meeting, it was like I attended a series of inspiring lectures.”

To join this WHO internship programme, Jonathan had to change his postgraduate studies from full-time to part-time, which extended his study period. Nevertheless, Jonathan considers it a worthwhile tradeoff. “In Geneva, a highly international French-speaking city, I had the chance to work in a major global organisation and learn about many world health issues. Even though it only lasted a few months, the internship has broadened my horizons and helped steer my way forward.”

Source: HKBU HORIZONS/ 2015-16 Issue 2

Andy Jin (Graduate of 2015-16)

Andy was selected an intern of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO, helping with the Radiation Programme from Jan - April 2017.

WHO internship sharing forum 2017 Apr 27

Keep learning in pursuit of the truth

Graduation ceremony at HKBU

Photo with interns from China at World Health Organization (WHO)

Andy, whose native place is Jiangsu, has aspired to gain knowledge and been passionate about new challenges since childhood. To pursue his dream, he gave up a steady job and took up the position of laboratory researcher, notwithstanding a drastic drop in income from a few thousand to several hundred renminbi. He says resolutely, “I believe that we shouldn’t live simply for money, but should lead a more valuable and meaningful life. Since I was interested in environmental science, I found my work at the laboratory very fruitful as I could acquire knowledge as well as exchange ideas with professors and PhD students.”

Subsequently he came to Hong Kong to undertake an MSc programme in Environmental and Public Health Management at HKBU. Because he’s always up for a challenge, he chose to study Research and Environmental Monitoring Methodology and Integrated Waste Management, a discipline recognised to be difficult and usually avoided by students. He even took the initiative to engage his teachers in discussions after class. All this because he firmly believed that the subject was closely related to daily life.

His proactive attitude gained him an internship at the World Health Organization (WHO). He shares: “At the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, I was given the opportunity to take part in compiling a manual entitled ‘Food Safety after a Radiation Emergency: Handbook for Health Risk Communication’. Since I didn’t know much about the topic, I equipped myself by reading up on the subject before embarking on my new job. Upon starting at WHO, I kept my eyes open and didn’t hesitate to ask questions when communicating with my supervisor and colleagues. Gradually I gained a better understanding of the subject.” Without fear of the language barrier, Andy proactively participated in various seminars and discussions, broadening his horizons as well as acquiring the skills of communicating and getting along with others in culturally diverse environments.

After three months of hard work, the handbook was largely completed. The only Chinese member of the team, Andy takes great pride in it. “I feel like I have accomplished something good for the world. I believe it is most important to work out an effective way to disseminate new knowledge to the public so that people can make their own judgements without hesitation or fear caused by ignorance.”

With this conviction, Andy is planning to do a PhD with a view to uncovering new knowledge as well as serving as a bridge between academia and the public.

Andy gets along well with his landlord (first from left) and his mum in Zurich.

Welcoming the President of the People’s Republic of China at WHO

A trip to Saleve Mountain in France

Source: Eyes on HKBU

Kennie Chang (Graduate of 2016-17)

Mr Chang participated in MSc EPHM’s Internship Programme to work at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva in 2017. He is currently working in an environmental related company - Hansk New Materials Holdings Limited (漢斯克新材料集團有限公司). Kennie shared his fruitful opportunity to work at the WHO and introduced his current job nature and shared his insight on working in the environmental and public health fields.

My major task during the internship in WHO is working with the external experts for the “Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues”. A series of teleconferences has been coordinated, by which controversial scientific data, equivocal experimental results were discussed and action items were determined. All details are documented and saved by me in the WHO database. I also regularly update the monograph drafts in the database before the official meeting among the experts, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in September. The target is to determine the Acceptable Daily Intake of the pesticide residues on food.

Moreover, I am the administrator of the WHO food safety database to support the requests of data from different institutes in the world, including the Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong. For example, data of the average consumption quantity of fish and mercury concentration are available for evaluating the impact on consumers.

Since we are calling for scientific data from different technical institutes in the world to prepare the Codex meeting in 2018, I am also involve in editing the Codex Alimentarius documents concerning lead, methylmercury and cadmium in certain food commodities in this regard.

Occasionally, I will translate some food safety news from China for helping my colleagues to understand the China situations better. Last but not the least, working together with talented people from different professional backgrounds in WHO has certainly enriched my knowledge, to which I value as a great and unforgettable experience.

Local Internships Student Sharing

Fiona KUM (Graduate of 2016-17)

Fiona was selected an intern of the Hong Kong Organic Center Jun - Sep 2017.

I am glad to have the chance to work as an intern in the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre for a month. During the internship period, I not only supported administrative work in the office, but also assisted in holding ceremonies and exhibition. One of my unforgettable memories is being a helper in Health Expo 2017. In this exhibition, my task was to promote the “Organic Buy” app to the visitors. At first, not many visitors knew what “Organic Buy” app was. However, after my explanation of the usage of the app, they found the app useful to them in selecting and buying the organic food that they wanted. I am very happy about the successful promotions of the “Organic Buy” app because it really helps the consumers to avoid purchasing uncertified organic products.

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