"Go where the need is greatest"
A sentence I would always remember and has always been my motto in life. During my study in school of medicine, North Sumatera University, I joined Christian Intervarsity Fellowship which was challenged everyone to have a purpose of being a doctor who would be willing to go where the need is greatest.
After 6 years of study, I decided to take a part as a volunteer in victim rehabilitation program of post-Tsunami disaster in Aceh. I was sent to Cebrek village, District of Sigli and I stayed for one year. It was a conflict zone in which Indonesian army and Free Aceh Movement Fighters (GAM) had prolonger disputes. I worked there to help tsunami victims at the villages, referring them to a referral hospital when requiring further therapy. I also helped the psychological rehabilitation of the children of tsunami survivors. Afterwards I chose to work in east border of Indonesia, Papua because of the outbreak of famine among the children there. I work as the only general practitioner for 2 years in Lereh Primary Health Center, Kaureh District, Regency of Jayapura. During my work, I was given the opportunity to serve the populations in some of the most remote areas in the distric, such as Muara Pasra village, Aurina village, Pagai village. It took 1-3 days to get there by walking through the wild jungle continued with boat (Jonson boat) riding on the river. Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, yaws were most common diseases in all of that area. Having completed my serve there, I continued my study to be a specialist.
I came back to Papua as a specialist after 3.5 years studying in clinical pathology department, School of Medicine, Airlangga University. For the second time being there I worked in Yowari hospital, regency of Jayapura; the place where I built a nationally standardized laboratory, although it is located far away in the east of Indonesia. I saw many cases of severe malaria and antibiotic resistant which got my concern. Until the 3 years of service I was called by Professor Aryati, the head of clinical pathology department, School of medicine, Airlangga University to come back as a staff member. I decided to accept the offer and since 2014 I have been a lecturer in Dr Soetomo Teaching Hospital/ Clinical Pathology Departement of Airlangga University.
There are some considerations that keep encouraging me to study MSc Microbiology and Infection. Firstly, Indonesia is in the edge of bacteria resistant antibiotics. According to Indonesian Ministry of Health, the rates are increased especially Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) group and ESBL. Secondly, by becoming a lecturer, I am very much exposed to research and journals. How to write a proper academic journal and exactly how to conduct basic research especially focusing on tropic and infectious diseases have been a couple of a challenges for me. These facts and need have been driving me to study in UK.
Why have I chose UK? I believe the answer is "reputation". UK is the ideal place to study basic research, especially in infectious diseases. University of Manchester, University of Birmingham and University of Leicester are three best universities which are providing teachers, facilities, modules, research in infection and immunology of bacterial infection and its resistance. These universities are top 100th university according to QS World University Ranking, Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for its remarkable reputation research on infectious diseases. This research has been literally used as protocols, guidelines of bacteria resistant antibiotic, malaria, hepatitis, HIV and etc. As far as I know, Indonesia and UK have a great relationship. This includes strengthen Indonesian education, scholarship, university collaboration which is also contributing in the field of infectious diseases.
After the graduation, this is the contribution that I expect to give to my country. Firstly, I want to build an internationally standardized research laboratory in the field of infectious diseases at Dr Soetomo Teaching Hospital/ Clinical Pathology Department, School of Medicine, Airlangga University that will elaborate Indonesian problem against resistant. This research will produce the protocols, guidelines that help my country to reduce the burden of infectious diseases. Hopefully this aim will complete in 5 years. Secondly, I want to make a relation and cooperation globally especially with university in the UK that will contribute in enhanced promoting war against bacterial resistance.
At the end, I hope by the knowledge and experience that I will gain during my study in the UK, I would be able to conduct better clinical studies that would expose real problems and finally solve them. As a lecturer, I hope to not only teach my student about research but also I want to share the kind of motivation that they should bear in mind during their study.
I realize that it will take time and effort but by taking part in building Indonesia a better place for education and knowledge especially in infectious diseases. I am very optimistic that I will be successful in making my dreams come true. I hope my career as a clinical pathologist and lecturer wouldn't be in vain but defines the motto "go where the need is greatest".
Ferdy Royland Marpaung