Explain a little bit about your background. What kind of work are you doing and how is this connected to public health?
MD by background, I have been working as Medical Programme Manager in humanitarian settings for last 10 years in projects with focus on Drug resistance TB, Reproductive health and Refugee health mainly in FSU countries, South Asia and Middle East context. As medical manager main role has been planning, designing, implementing and monitoring medical interventions in these projects. From PH perspectives we focus on gaps, neglected diseases, marginalized populations and create evidence and do advocacy to bring about changes in the health policies.
What do you enjoy about working/studying in public health? And what are the challenges?
Assessing the needs of the population and tailoring projects around the needs with the aim to integrate the marginalized populations in the mainstream is what I enjoy the most. Bringing the changes in the set health policies is challenging, as it is not just evidence but also political will and commitment which is dependent on so many factors.
What drew you to the Discipline of Public Health at Flinders University to do postgraduate study?
As a Programme Manager I have been intensively working in field all this time and now want to dedicate some time to study and contribute in research field through my experience. Discipline of PH in Flinders offered a very comprehensive higher study as DrPH.
What kind of course did you or will you complete through Flinders University? If you plan to undertake research, what topic did you have in mind?
I have enrolled for DrPH course this year. My last mission in Middle East was a remote control project for Secondary health facilities inside Syria, managed from Jordan. Having faced some challenges, wanted to explore further the gaps and more efficient ways of service delivery through remote or distance management model in a humanitarian conflict setting.
How has/are you hoping this course will shape what your work now or in the future?
Definitely it will enhance my research skills and I will contribute in better understanding the difficulties we are facing in the humanitarian conflict zones dealing with refugees and vulnerable populations there and in Australia contribute in understanding the background and health needs of the refugees from these regions better and thus more focused and specific projects to respond to their needs.
What is your best culinary output? Any particular place that has inspired this?
I am quite inspired by Central Asian cuisine as it is close to home. My home town Leh Ladakh in Himalayas being the last stop of the “Silk Route”
When you tell your family and friends what public health is, how do you explain what it is?
During my Masters in Antwerp, I was very well explained the difference between being a clinician and PH specialist. As a clinician you observe the patient with presentation and treat accordingly. If you place the same patient outside and observe from the roof top, you will see the patient differently from all perspective. This is PH.
Looking forward, what do you see as some of the major challenges for Australian public health?
The barriers and challenges in dealing with the vulnerable and hard to reach populations like prisoners, refugees and indigenous populations should not be any different as in any other context. Also coordination of the various non governmental and governmental stakeholders could pose much challenge, though Australian system seems well set. I would definitely like to explore further where best I can contribute with my skills and experience in years to come.