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Implementing the Sustainable Development Vision in Mongolia

Posted: 29 June 2020

Mr Ganbat Byambaa completed his Master of Health Service Management at Curtin University in 2004. In 1998, he attended a one-month training course on Leadership for Education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, which left him with a lasting impression of how the Australian education system really differs from other countries.

“Australian educators are well experienced in the field and this expertise really fascinated me and pushed my interest in applying for an Australia Award”.

Australia has developed high quality learning and teaching methodologies which provide students with excellent learning facilities. Additionally, Australian universities have a diverse range of extracurricular activities for students that help them to maintain healthy lifestyle and wellbeing – “My studying hours were hectic and sometimes I used to study until 4am, therefore I joined my university extracurricular activity club. Doing meditation was helping me to overcome stress and even now, I still meditate during my leisure time. I think it is one of key factors from my time studying on an Australia Award that helped me to become a well oriented individual in this hectic working environment. I kept active outside of study by participating in marathons and undertook some volunteer work while I was studying”.

Mr Ganbat thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and health intervention practices he undertook as part of his course internship at the Curtin University of Technology. So much so, he successfully initiated a Memorandum of Understanding between Mongolia’s National University of Medical Science and Curtin University of Technology for Mongolian student exchanges for Masters and PhD degrees. As a result, one Masters student (coursework) and one PhD student successfully completed studies in Australia and these students were funded by Government of Mongolia to study in Australia. Furthermore, he has also supervised eight Masters and two PhD students in research on the theme of medical education, health insurance, public health and health services management in Mongolia.

After graduating, Mr Ganbat was employed at the Mongolian National University of Medical Science as the Dean for Graduates Studies and Secretary of the Academic Council. He encourages medical students to learn more and improve their knowledge in a diverse range of health topics relevant to Mongolia. “The Masters degree I earned from Curtin University in Australia helped me to progress my career in the health sector. After working for the University, I worked for the World Health Organisation (WHO), Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported health projects, Millennium Challenge Account – Mongolia health project and became Deputy Director at the City Health Department of Ulaanbaatar City”. Building on his vast experience in the field, Mr Ganbat then pursued further research study with collaboration of Curtin University doing a case study on Policy Implementation and Primary Health Care in Mongolia.

Mr Ganbat is now working as Program Officer for Universal Health Coverage and Health System Development at the World Health Organisation in Mongolia. Amongst other projects, the WHO team has collaborated with Australian health specialists in many different areas and one of the main priorities is to develop Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Mongolia. The aim of the UHC is to enable every citizen to have access for health services regardless of their location, without financial constraints. A multi-sectoral collaboration within and outside of health sector is essential to introduce UHC. An initial important step towards UHC in Mongolia was Government of Mongolia’s decision to allocate health budget funds to private and public hospitals equally so that people accessing service from private hospitals are able to receive reimbursement from Social Health insurance payment, allowing decrease of pressure patient numbers in public hospitals.

In August 2019, Mr Ganbat and his team organised several networking sessions on “Health Service Quality Management Network for Patient Safety” and organised local training and capacity building in Ulaanbaatar. The initiative has been supported by establishing a local network and proposes further collaboration with the University of New South Wales to support further capacity building. It is an ongoing and continuing process that aims to build networks with other countries in the region.  

“The studies I undertook included academic speaking/writing, research methodology, analytical approaches by investigating qualitative case studies from a diverse range of sources, theoretical framework and referencing. It is common practice to undertake qualitative analysis within case studies in the health studies rather than quantitative studies. These were integral in helping me to write up my own articles and undertake comprehensive analysis on the Mongolian health situation”.

As an Australia Awards’ alumnus, Mr Ganbat has given some further advice to on-award students on how to use their skills on the job in Mongolia. He stressed the importance of implementing pilot project avenues (mentioned in the student’s Reintegration Plan), documenting it and sharing it with others. On top of that, producing stories of AAS students is a good way to validate your work, provide excellent publicity on your studies, the work you have done and the benefit to Mongolia. This is to utilise academic study techniques acquired in Australia: to adopt best practice methods, and to provide evidence-based approaches which translate into effective policy.