Dr Chatu Yapa is a Sri-Lankan born, Samoan-bred Kiwi who has led a nomadic life since leaving New Zealand in 2010. She trained in Medicine in New Zealand, then worked in Auckland, Darwin and Alice Springs as a junior medical doctor before joining Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), two and half years out of medical school.
She completed her first 6 month mission with MSF at a hospital in remote South Sudan as a medical doctor for internally displaced persons, followed by missions to northern Iraq as medical team leader at a refugee camp for Syrian refugees, and the Philippines as medical team leader in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
She then completed the Masters of Applied Epidemiology (MAE) program at the Australian National University (ANU) and NSW Ministry of Health. She also began her training as a public health physician during this time. During the MAE, Chatu contributed to the response to the west African Ebola epidemic, working as a medical doctor with MSF in Liberia.
Chatu is currently completing a PhD in collaboration with MSF at ANU on the topic of primary health care in complex emergencies. As part of her research, she has undertaken further missions to Lebanon and Nigeria with MSF. Chatu is currently on the Board of Directors of MSF Australia.
To chill out, Chatu likes to do yoga, run and try new things like Samba and knitting!