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Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in Mumbai and spent my whole life wanting to be a doctor. I love that I was able to realize that dream, but after working in India for public and private sector hospitals, I learned that there is a widespread systemic problem with Indian healthcare. Large portions of India’s semi-urban and rural populations do not have access to affordable, good quality, effective care. The increasing commodification of health is not responsive to the needs of the people and will hinder the progress of a developing country like India. This is a public health issue. To confront it, I need to work in public health.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
I decided to make the switch to public health, and from the moment I read about the accelerated MPH with the General Public Health track at Mailman, I knew that this would be the place for me. I could grow into my new avatar as a public health practitioner and define my own skills and identity. Coupled with the amazing experiences of the faculty, the diversity of students and all the course offerings, the Mailman School is in the public health capital of country and the ultimate melting pot of the world, New York.
Before I came to the Mailman School, healthcare was a one-dimensional concept for me. I just thought of it as clinical medicine.Now I have a more holistic view. My education at the School, coupled with my medical background, communication skills, and new understanding of health systems, has given me a holistic approach to health. Things really came together for me when I realized that health systems strengthening is the niche I’ve been longing to pursue my whole life.
What did you study before joining Mailman?
I did my Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute.
What was your career path after graduating from Mailman?
I joined Global Health Strategies, an international health-consulting firm that specializes in advocacy and communications in the United States, India, Brazil, China, and pretty soon, Africa, in November 2014. I had heard about GHS at the Mailman career fairs and seen their postings online through CareerLink. But I would not have been able to do any of it without the constant encouragement, guidance, and help from Heather Krasna in Career Services.
I was hired as a manager of a tuberculosis (TB) project in New Delhi. Three months later, I was promoted to senior manager. I head a TB project in India and act as global coordinator for the TB projects based in our other offices. We partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for advocacy and communications. In India, we work a great deal with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to enable policy change for improvements in TB prevention and control.
My job is exciting, fast-paced, and allows me to think of the big picture and create strategies that can lead to better health. I get to interact with veterans of the public health sector on a daily basis and have already learned so much about the challenges of changing policy. Looking ahead, I want to go with the flow and see where life takes me in my quest for universal health coverage. This all started for me when I realized I wanted to be an advocate of public health, and it became realized once I made it through my studies at the Mailman School.