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Medical Anthropology and Sociology

Students

Medical Anthropology and Sociology (msc)

'Working as a director for a health policy think-tank in Tokyo was definitely an experience. However, while implementing various projects and publishing various policy proposals, a question occurred to me. We, health policy makers, always talk about health policy but we hardly ever talk about health per se. Then, I heard of medical anthropology. Before that, I had little attention for anthropology and to be honest I had never heard of medical anthropology. Luckily I won a scholarship from a Japanese foundation to study anywhere in Europe, and my choice was the University of Amsterdam.' Read what Ryoji tells about Medical Anthropology and Sociology.

Ryoji Noritake
Photo: Nicole Thijssens

Working as a director for a health policy think-tank in Tokyo was definitely an experience. We, the Health and Global Policy Institute, Japan, are an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental health focused think-tank and have implemented various projects including global health and patient advocacy. I started there as an associate in 2007 and became a director in 2011.

'As a bachelor of public affairs and policy management, I found the field of health policy quite intriguing'

As a bachelor of public affairs and policy management, I found the field of health policy quite intriguing. Parliament was a five minute walk from our office in the middle of Tokyo. Discussing with policy makers, ministries, industry and patient advocates, how to shape better and multi-stakeholder-committed policies was a busy yet lively and exciting time of my life. However, while implementing various projects and publishing various policy proposals, a question occurred to me. We, health policy makers, always talk about health policy but we hardly ever talk about health per se. Moreover, we tend to take a systematic and controlling approach for health but discussion on health has been paradigm shifted these days into health promotion and a community-family approach.

'My choice was right, course lecturers were nice, the atmosphere of the faculty friendly, and I had wonderful classmates'

Then, I heard of medical anthropology. Before that, I had little attention for anthropology and to be honest I had never heard of medical anthropology. Luckily I won a scholarship from a Japanese foundation to study anywhere in Europe, and my choice was the University of Amsterdam. It was not hard to choose. The curriculum looked well organized and concise. The city of Amsterdam was so charming, I had visited here before. The location of Amsterdam was also a plus. Even before entering the school, I knew I would have to make some business trips regarding my previous job, and Amsterdam has full access to anywhere. Geneva, Washington D.C, New York, London and Tokyoare always easy access from Amsterdam. My choice was right, course lecturers were nice, the atmosphere of the faculty friendly, and I had wonderful classmates.

'Right now, I am working on my thesis about disaster medical relief and international humanitarian organization'

Right now, I am working on my thesis about disaster medical relief and international humanitarian organization. The biggest and last project I implemented in Tokyo was disaster relief and international co-ordination after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan. I am writing about an Israeli NGO providing mental health relief in Japan and how the local community has accepted them. I hope this will not be just a narrative of one organization but some kind of policy proposal for future disaster relief. After this master, I will probably go back to the health policy arena. There are several job offers from Tokyo but I have also applied for a few jobs in Europe right now, so fingers crossed!