Fellowship Program

Fellowship Overview 

The Equity Initiative Fellowship, also known as the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in Southeast Asia (AFHESEA), is a fully funded award designed for working professionals from Southeast Asia and China. The Fellowship’s goal is to advance Fellows’ competency in leadership and health equity, and to inspire and deepen their commitment to advancing social justice in health.

The Equity Initiative Fellowship is a lifelong journey that begins with an inspiring and rigorous Induction Year, followed by a longer-term practice-based commitment to health equity through collective leadership for social change. The Fellowship program experience goes beyond traditional academic coursework, through various modalities of experiential, peer, and blended online learning organized around two themes: Health Equity and Leadership. 

We have invited Fellows to join this program on the basis of their demonstrated commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm for leading change for health equity. Fellows are the transformative leaders who will work to reform policies and systems, tackle social determinants, and address health inequities within and beyond the health sector. 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Equity Initiative Fellowship Program. The online application is open until 12.00am ICT on 30 September 2021


Why Equity and Leadership

Serious health inequities exist within and between the countries of Southeast Asia and it goes beyond health. This is due to many factors, but chiefly imbalance of power; inequitable policies and laws; unequal economic conditions and opportunities; and historical and contemporary prejudices, including ethnical and religious intolerance. At the Equity Initiative, we define health equity quite broadly as a multidimensional concept that considers fairness in health and social determinants of health and it goes beyond health; it is not just an issue for medical professionals or the health sector alone.

We believe that leaders in society can either perpetuate or worsen inequities, or effect change for the better. Leadership and a community of practitioners are critically important to not only bring regional attention to health equity but also to motivate, innovate, and craft solutions. The Equity Initiative’s goal is that the Fellows will become transformational leaders who can guide, direct, and influence others to bring about fundamental changes for health equity. 

Induction Year 

The Fellowship program seeks to inspire and deepen the Fellows’ commitment to advance social justice in health. The experience goes beyond traditional academic coursework with peer, experiential, and blended online learning organized around two themes: Health Equity and Leadership. 

The Induction Year of the Fellowship program is structured around 6 learning events: Opening Retreat, Global Learning I & II, Asia Trek, Project Accelerator, and Annual Forum. The learning events are delivered by leading experts and practitioners from a range of fields including government policy makers, academic professors, and founders of NGOs, and leaders of social entrepreneurship program, and social activists. Competencies are developed through core readings;, interactive sessions with peers, guest speakers, and faculties; , panel discussions and debates;, field visits;, skill-building workshops;, and project development. In the second year, Fellows receive seed funding to conduct collaborative health equity projects.

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Opening Retreat

The Opening Retreat is the initial orientation for the Fellows in which they become grounded in the core modules and ideals of the program, engage with leadership development theory and practice, and gain exposure to health equity frameworks and values. The Opening Retreat also aims to create a comfortable atmosphere in which Fellows start begin the bonding process that will ultimately will determine the success of the induction year’s programming.

Fellow’s quote: “What I loved about this retreat, clearly the wonderful connections we made with one another fast-forward our friendship.”


Global Learning I

Global Learning I is the first half of a 2-week event that takes Fellows beyond Southeast Asia for international exposures to the context of health inequities. It introduces Fellows to global perspectives on social determinants of health and on-the-ground health equity actions and social movements.

Fellow’s quote: “I had the chance to experience real life stories of health equity from different countries.”

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Global Learning II

Global Learning II, the second-half of the Global Learning event, connects Fellows with world-class scholars and inspirational leaders and deepens their understanding of the ways in which social and economic determinants affect the health of communities. In addition to academic sessions at Harvard University, the learning event includes field visits that enable Fellows to learn about the U.S health care system and innovations that are being pursued in healthcare delivery.

Fellow’s quote: “It’s so refreshing to see leadership in academia transcending to actual, real work. It’s like the knowledge never stopped here.”

Together, the Global Learning experiences provide an opportunity for Fellows to become exposed to diverse perspectives and participate in exchange across disciplines, cultures, and geographies.


Asia Trek

The goal of Asia Trek is to provide Fellows with a local lens into transnational health equity issues to spark dialogue, critical thinking, and problem analysis. This is a 1-week experiential immersion in the region with exposure to key health actors, action and engagement with policymakers through field visits, panel discussions and debates, and dialogue with community leaders. Asia Trek focuses on the themes of vulnerable population,s including urban poor, ethnic minorities, domestic and international migrants, displaced people and informal dwellers, and children and youth with disabilities.

Fellow’s quote: “To be with like-minded people is the most enjoyable part of the gatherings with the Fellows, guest speakers and mentors. Another unique experience is to be in the communities with serious equity challenges.”


Project Accelerator

The primary goal of Project Accelerator is for Fellows to bring their proposals for equity projects to near-final form. Designing a health equity project gives Fellows the opportunity to combine peer and experiential learning and to make an impact in promoting health equity in the region. These projects, carried out in the Fellows’ second year, enable Fellows to put into practice the core values of health equity, which they have studied over the program year, and exercise newly acquired leadership skills. During a 5-day event, Fellows work in their project groups with guidance and support from experts. The Project Accelerator learning event also aims to continue building leadership and management competencies via action-oriented training workshops and open discussions to allow Fellows to exercise creativity, spontaneity, communication, leadership, and purposeful teamwork.

Fellow’s quote: “It made me recognize how professional our Fellows were in providing training on program management and communication skills.”


Annual Forum

The Annual Forum is the culminating event of the fellowship year and a signature event of the Equity Initiative in building a sustained equity community. The Forum marks the start of the Fellows’ second year projects to advance health equity in the region, and it formally introduces and inducts the graduated Fellows into the life-long community of the Atlantic Fellows Programs. The Forum also plays an important role in promoting inter-cohort relationships with Fellow alumni, incoming Fellows, and allies as a bridge to building a regional equity community.

Fellow’s quote: “I’m much more appreciative now of the need for such programs as the EI and bringing like-minded champions together for intellectual and moral support. Advocacy and direct service can be very lonely, disheartening work, and a burden shared is a burden halved.”


The Annual Forum is held in Thailand each year to coincide with the annual Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC), a large-scale, high-level global health conference that covers a wide range of pressing issues and brings together public health leaders and key stakeholders from around the world. PMAC creates a great opportunity to link Fellows to the wider regional and global networks.

Locations and Schedules of Past Learning Events

2016 Cohort

2017 Cohort

2018 Cohort

2019 Cohort

Opening Retreat

Viet Nam
21-26 Apr 2016

Viet Nam
29 Mar-3 Apr 2017

Viet Nam
18-24 Mar 2018

Viet Nam
10-17 Mar 2019

Global Learning I

South Africa
4-11 Jun 2016

7-14 May 2017

26 May-1 Jun 2018

South Africa
25 -31 May 2019

Global Learning II

12-19 Jun 2016

4-10 Jun 2017

2-9 Jun 2018

1-8 Jun 2019

Asia Trek

13-21 Aug 2016

13-20 Aug 2017

5-12 Aug 2018

1- 8 Sep 2019

Project Accelerator

11-15 Nov 2016

30 Oct-5 Nov 2017

28 Oct-4 Nov 2018

27 Oct -3 Nov 2019

Annual Forum

3-6 Feb 2017

3-6 Feb 2018

3-6 Feb 2019

25-29 Jan 2020

Regional Selection Committee

Regional Selection Committee (RSC) is comprised of prominent leaders across the region with a strong background in working towards health equity. RSC members are selected on a rolling basis, and the committee's primarily role is in making final selections for incoming Fellows. The RSC selects a mix of candidates to optimize peer learning, choosing the best mix of individuals across countries, ethnicities, gender, age, sectors, disciplines and backgrounds, as well as give special consideration for under-represented groups.


Khuat Thu Hong

Dr Khuat Thu Hong is the founder and Director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), an independent research organization located in Hanoi, Vietnam. She has a B.A. in psychology in 1984 and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1997. Before founding ISDS, she worked for the Institute of Sociology, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences for sixteen years and for UNDP as the gender specialist from March 2000 to May 2001.  Her major fields of studies include gender, sexuality and social inclusion. Dr. Khuat Thu Hong is a regular guest of national and international television and radio such as VTV, VOV, BBC, NHK, VOA and RFA and is frequently interviewed by national and international newspapers on gender and social issues in Vietnam.


Tri Mumpuni

Tri Mumpuni, Born in Semarang, Central Java, Tri Mumpuni, is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist who has developed innovative micro-hydropower projects that have brought affordable electricity to more than half a million people in Indonesia. Trained as an agricultural engineer, she earned a degree in Social Economics and has been engaged in rural development work for more than three decades. Currently, she is the executive director of the People-Centered Business and Economic Institute (IBEKA), a nongovernmental organization that produces electricity for people in rural areas using micro-hydro power – a renewable and nonpolluting solution for small-scale energy generation. Founded in 1992, IBEKA has been working to address many challenges in Indonesia, including government restrictions and complicated financial regulations. IBEKA’s success comes largely from Mumpuni’s ability to navigate all levels of project engagement, from collaborating with villagers at the grassroots level, to lobbying authorities at the highest levels of government.


Dr. Krissada Raungarreerat

Dr. Krissada Raungarreerat has been Director-General of Thai Public Broadcasting Service since October 26, 2015. Prior to this, he was the CEO of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) and Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs during 2007 – 2008. He was also a former President of the International Network of Health Promotion Foundations (INHPF) during 2010 -2012. Under his leadership, ThaiHealth plays a crucial role as an innovative enabler to promote public health interventions and collaborations across sectors, including policy advocacy, innovative social marketing campaigns, and social mobilization for grass-roots communities. Consequently, Thailand has been successful in raising health awareness among people and in reducing tobacco and alcohol consumption prevalence, as well as road traffic accident rate over the past decade. In 2011, he played a significant role to drive and support the establishment of the Thai Social Enterprise Office (TSEO). TSEO works with important key stakeholders from different sectors to develop new mechanism of Social Enterprise. It serves as a new platform to support the development of Social Innovation Landscape in Thailand. He has a bachelor's degree in Dentistry and a master's in Computer Science from Chulalongkorn University


Sharon Low

Sharon has worked for more than 15 years in conflict- affected and fragile countries. She has experience in designing and rolling out humanitarian and development programs, including assessment, evaluation, and research projects across Asia and Africa. With social work and public health background as anchors, she was involved in the design of intersectoral organizational, program, and project-level monitoring and evaluation systems involving natural resource management, market development, governance and civil society, health, as well as education. She holds an MPH from the James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University (Bangladesh) and a BA in social work and history from the National University of Singapore. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in applied geographical information systems at the National University of Singapore. Sharon is also a member of the Health Systems Global Steering Committee of the Thematic Working Group on Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict Affected States.


Sarah Bales

Dr. Sarah Bales is an international consultant with extensive experience in the area of policy research and quantitative analysis in Vietnam where she has worked since 1992. She has provided consulting services on the health sector and poverty reduction to the Vietnamese government through projects with the World Bank, ADB, UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, and Sida. She was team leader for implementation of the Vietnam 2002 National Health Survey and has provided technical assistance to the General Statistics Office on the Vietnam Household Living Standards Surveys. She has been involved in policy research, including impact evaluation of the health care fund for the poor and capitation payment policies, and policy analysis of various health sector policies. She completed her PhD in Public Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in 2018. Her current work focuses on providing evidence for policymaking in various aspects of health financing and helping to build capacity among Vietnamese experts in use of quantitative analysis for policymaking.

Fellowship Application

Fellows will be selected based on demonstrated commitment to health equity and leadership potential. The program selects 20-25 Fellows each year from Southeast Asia and China. 

The Equity Initiative is now accepting applications for the 2022 Fellowship Program. 

The Equity Initiative Fellowship is seeking outstanding mid-career professionals from Southeast Asia and China from any sector (public, private, non-profit, academia, business) who have demonstrated leadership in their field, who have shown a commitment to equity and social justice, and are interested in a lifelong engagement with the equity community. 

To apply for the Fellowship, the applicant must: 

  • Have a track record of demonstrated leadership and commitment to social justice 
  • Have a demonstrated record of experience and accomplishment related to health, social development, governance and law, environmental justice, or other relevant fields
  • Have at least 5 years of professional working experience 
  • Be a resident citizen of one of the Southeast Asian countries or China
  • Be proficient in spoken and written English

Our selection process involves the deliberation of National Committees and a Regional Selection Committee who help us score, rank, and select future Fellows. In the selection process, the Committees prioritize individual attributes of the candidates as well as country, gender, and professional backgrounds to achieve an optimal cohort mix. 

The selection criteria include the following:

  • A diverse mix of applicants from a wide range of professional sectors
  • Professional capabilities in health, social development, or related fields
  • Capacity to participate fully in the fellowship activities on specific dates with the support of current employer or home institution if applicable
  • Achieve a mix and balance of Fellows for optimal multi-national and multi-sectoral peer learning

For the 2022 Equity Initiative Fellowship, the application timeline is set as follows:

September 30, 2021

Online applications Close at 12:00am ICT

October- November 2021

Review of Applications, Shortlisting and Interviewing of Applicants

December 2021

Final Selection by the Regional Selection Committee

January 2022

Invitation Sent to Finalists

Feburary 2022

Fellows Announced

March 2022

First 2022 Fellowship Event Commences 

How is the program impacted by COVID-19?

As the COVID-19 global pandemic evolves, we may need to shift the program structure and modify the learning activities in order to follow global and regional mandates and guidelines for public health. Once Fellows are accepted, we will share the latest fellowship program schedule. We regret not being able to provide further details at this time.

What benefits-privileges may the Fellow anticipate?

During the one-year fellowship term, fellows will participate in 6 in-person learning events totaling about 6 weeks in which they will interact with world-class faculty and key actors in health equity and development, globally and regionally. The fellows will gain knowledge, expert and peer support, and an opportunity to develop and implement an individual or collaborative equity action project with seed funding.

What are the Fellow’s obligations?

The fellowship is designed for working professionals to accompany full-time work. Fellows are required to attend all Fellowship learning events as well as participate in online learning. It is expected that fellows will network with their peers and wider swaths of multidisciplinary professionals and will become members of a global community with shared interests and goals for social justice in health.

I am not health expert or working in health sector, am I eligible to apply? 

Yes, the Equity Initiative is looking for cross sector leadership. What makes the Equity Initiative unique is our commitment to building out a network across professional fields and interests. 

What commitment do Fellows have after the Fellowship Induction Year?  

Upon graduation, Fellows will start their second year project. Fellows also begin to join the global network of Atlantic Fellows. 

If I was not previously selected to the program, am I allowed to reapply?

Yes, the applicants are encouraged to reapply when the next call for application is reopened. 

If I am accepted, can I defer until next year? 

No, deferrals will not be accepted. Please apply for the year you wish to participate. 

I am not a national of Southeast Asian countries or China but have experience working in the region, can I apply? 

No, only citizens or resident nationals of one of Southeast Asian countries or China are eligible to apply. 

How do you define “resident national” ?

That is, the person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen. 

Am I able to apply if I am currently living, working or studying outside my home country? 

Yes. Applicants currently living outside of their home country who hold citizenship or resident nationality from Southeast Asian countries or China are still eligible to apply.

Who should write my reference letters? 

The Equity Initiative program requires two (2) letters of recommendation from each applicant. Reference should comment on your professional abilities, current work and interests regarding social justice or in health development, and leadership qualities either within your field or your larger community. 

What is my references’ deadline? 

The references’ deadline is the same as the Application Deadline; however, we understand that it may take an extra few days for all references to respond.  

How will receipt of my application be confirmed? 

A confirmation email will be sent to your email address once your application is received.

Can I update my application after submission? 

Once submitted, updates to an application are NOT possible. You may work on your application online and save drafts until you are ready to submit. Please only submit your application when it is complete.

Are late applications accepted? 

No, we do not accept late applications. We encourage applicants to submit applications as early as possible. The upcoming deadline for applications is 30 September 2021. 

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Other Questions?

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