Making a difference and creating a change has always been a major aspiration for Katja Siefken.
Having lived and worked in several low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) in different parts of the world, she experienced first-hand how people in these countries struggle to achieve health and wellbeing.
Moving to Fiji in 2008 ultimately led her to embark on the topic of her research, ‘Preventing chronic diseases through physical activity in the Pacific Islands: A workplace health promotion programme in Vanuatu’
Katja says that strategies to generate change are described and understood well in health promotion research. This mainly is research conducted in high-income countries with good health and media infrastructure, generous resources and high levels of awareness and education. However, little is known about how to generate change in communities where these three factors are either non-existent or weak. Through her doctoral research, Katja wants to make people understand that a healthy lifestyle is doable.
“Healthy eating, daily physical activities, and restricted tobacco are things that can be incorporated into a daily schedule. It is the surrounding environment, both physical and social, the policies and, most important, the individual mentality that has to change."