For our Alumni Profile this week we spoke to Dr Jyoti Joshi, who graduated from the School in 2014 with an MSc in Infectious Diseases by Distance Learning. She also took a short course at the School on Epidemiological Evaluation of Vaccines in the summer of 2015. Jyoti is now working as the Deputy Director of the Immunization Technical Support Unit at the Public Health Foundation of India.
Why the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine? The School provides an attractive mix of options suited to working public health professionals who are interested in staying updated with the evidence base and practice of public health. I was interested in getting exposure from a university of international repute – and the School was easily the winner!
I really enjoyed both of the courses I took at the School. On the Distance Learning course I thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility that it offered to carry out self-paced learning, connect with public health professionals from different parts of the world and yet still have the thrill of passing the strict standards of the face-to-face course. On the short course, I enjoyed the interactions with the experienced faculty as well as with the students from different parts of the world.
The School provided a platform to reach out to professionals from different parts of the world, in both developing and developed countries.
I am happy to still be connected with many coursemates and faculty working on vaccines. It is great to reconnect with them in conferences and for further discussions. On the Vaccine Epidemiology course I took in July 2015, I was happy to connect with a number of staff including Dr Anthony Scotts, Dr Stephane Flasche and Dr Paul Fine.
I am grateful for the excellent coordination and support provided by the School and would like to extend my heartfelt acknowledgment and thanks!
How did your studies at the School help your career? My degree from the School helped to advance my career in the immunization field. For the past three years, I have been working in the vaccine safety field in India. There is a lot of excitement in the vaccine space in India at the moment as new vaccines are added to the country’s Universal Immunization Program (UIP). I started as the Senior Advisor leading the work of vaccine safety in the Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU), an initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of India and the Public Health Foundation of India.
The initiative was launched in 2012 and provides techno-managerial support for improving coverage as well as quality of UIP, so as to build a modern immunization system through catalytic improvements in program monitoring and evaluation, vaccine supply chain and logistics, institutional capacity for evidence based informed policy making, improving surveillance for adverse events following immunization and strategic communication to improve immunization coverage.
I am now the Deputy Director of ITSU and am happy to play a key role in supporting the Immunization Program of India.
What moment from your career are you most proud of? The greatest achievement has been to hear kind words of encouragement from my mentors, peers and friends! This helps to push me further. My proudest moment has been to see the fruits of health systems strengthening the efforts of ITSU through improvements in vaccine safety surveillance in India. There is systematic reinforcement of the surveillance systems for adverse events following immunization in India and efforts to undertake research (qualitative as well as operations research) to further improve it. I am fortunate to play a key role in this research. The knowledge I gained from studying at the School helped me to prepare for the role.
What do you hope to achieve in the future? I look forward to being able to prepare systems in India which will enable all children to be completely protected from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs). As a public health professional, I hope to dramatically reduce the burden of VPDs in the country especially in children, and sincerely hope to have a key role in developing VPD surveillance systems that clearly showcase the decreasing trends of VPDs due to successful universal immunization coverage in India.
As an alumnus, what advice would you give to current students? Stay focused on your dream of working in health and make the most of the opportunities the School offers to further your career goals.
Thanks to the global student base there will always be alumni in every part of the world to reach out to and guide you further! Enjoy every moment of it.