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Meet Our Students and Alumni Series - 6 Questions with Nason Tan

1. MPH concentration and expected graduation year Health Economics, Policy & Management, 2018

2. Job title and Community Outreach Works

  • Board Director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Hong Kong

  • Founder of HIV prevention ‘PrEP & PEP Malaysia’

  • Co-founder of ‘South East Asia Refugees Support Network’

  • Medical Coordinator of ‘Impian Malaysia’

  • Advocate for human rights and health needs of LGBT, injecting substance users, sex workers, homeless folks and refugees (Seksualiti Merdeka, PT Foundation, Malaysian AIDS Council, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen and Health Mobile Services)

  • Sexual Health Physician

  • Part time lecturer (International Medical University, Malaysia)

  • Freelance writer

3. Tell us your story! How did you become interested in public health, and how does public health relate to your current line of work? I often find myself to be wanting more in anything that I do. Whether it is for personal growth, interests, or passion, there is always a burning desire to learn. Whether it is for defending human rights and access to health needs, there is also an unquenchable thirst to see social justice is met. My line of work deals mainly with planning, organising, coordinating, negotiating and executing a wide variety of activities crucial to the delivery of health services / programmes for our underserved populations. No doubt, I have accumulated learned experiences from many trials and mistakes along the way, somehow I still feel inadequate. I believe a solid foundation in the field of public health; in particular health economics, policy and management; would enrich my knowledge immensely. I can then apply this knowledge and execute my work more effectively and efficiently. I also enjoy sharing knowledge, training, and imparting wisdom to our younger generations as means to build up their capacity. To sum up simply, the personal quest to be a holistic clinician, well-rounded humanitarian, and efficient Board director in addition to leaving a meaningful legacy behind one day has therefore brought me here. 

4. How have you applied what you have learned within the MPH program to your line of work? 

Prior to coming HK, I have informed the local HIV AIDS Concern organisation that I’d wished to volunteer and build up the capacity of its frontline staff while studying full time in HK. I also have responsibility serving as a Board director and involved in various committees or working groups serving different dossiers for our MSFHK office and the wider international MSF movement. I have been privileged to be able to apply the many things that I have learned thus far (health policy, leadership and management, economics, financial management, behavioural theories, health needs assessment, organisational theory and change, communication and human resource strategies) and executing them in my capacity.

5. What advice would you give to current MPH students who will be entering the workplace for the first time? 

Observe and learn from everyone in the workplace regardless if the person happens to be the office cleaner or CEO. Be mindful and practise ‘respond and not react’ to whatever situations you find yourself in. The moment you are reacting, you let your emotions override whatever rationality you may have. That sudden emotional reaction could be more damaging both to your colleagues and yourself. Stay calm and come back with a civil constructive response instead. Be respectful, courteous, culturally sensitive and stay humble. Humility, patience, persistence, teamwork spirit, desire to learn and improve, receptive to constructive criticisms, high EQ, and be appreciative of your colleagues are all virtues to cultivate, to have, and to last for a lifetime.

6. Any other wisdom to share with the readers?

If you are able to enjoy your work as a passion, it won’t come across as a job. That is a major key to staying motivated in whatever you are doing. And for me personally, the more I give, the more I get in return, unexpectedly in abundance. My happy mantra, ‘Good life – assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and be grateful.’

Know a fellow HKU SPH student or alumni with an interesting story? Let us know! Email Ms Shereen Ayub ( to nominate your MPH peer for the next 'Meet Our Students and Alumni' blog series.

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