COVID-19 Alumni Stories: Mengxin Tan

Mengxin Tan (MSc Global Mental Health, 2019) works as a Research Consultant for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) HQ Health Department in Jordan. In this blog, she describes how her work has changed since COVID-19 and how Jordan’s response to the outbreak affected her role.

How has COVID-19 affected your work?

I was working as a researcher conducting qualitative health research in a refugee camp in Jordan, and we were at the final stage of approval in March. However, when COVID-19 started spreading, Jordan implemented a full national lockdown on 21 March. Travelling and field visits were not allowed, therefore, my research project was suspended. We started to work from home for two months and I was given other research-related urgent tasks that the agency needed assistance with.   

How have you contributed to the COVID-19 response?

I have performed data analysis and data visualisation to support the agency’s decision-making of COVID-19 responses. We closely monitor all UNRWA health centre visits for different health services to analyse the level of crowdedness inside the health centres and implement further measures as necessary to maintain the life-saving primary healthcare services in the camps. 

Part of my job has also been compiling information for an external COVID-19 report which documents the actions taken by UNRWA, the main challenges and how these challenges have been overcome. A large part of this involved conducting in-depth online interviews with health front liner’s working at UNRWA health centres to voice their in-person experience in providing health services and their life experience as a health worker during this difficult time.

How has your country’s response to the outbreak affected your work?

Jordan’s initial country lockdown and general curfew suspended the process of my original research project but provided me with the chance to get involved in other important roles. Since the situation has become more stable without local transmission detected for a long period inside Jordan, in June we gradually resumed our services. We returned to work in the office while adhering to strict preventive measures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection. I am now working on my research project to make alternative plans which would allow more flexibility by using different means to reach research participants while taking care of their safety.

How has LSHTM’s training helped you during this outbreak?

My MSc Global Mental Health degree had a focus on mental health, however, the epidemiological analysis and report writing skills I gained from LSHTM can be applied in other health fields. These skills enabled me to be flexible for taking other responsibilities when needed in the emergency situation.

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