Urvashi Prasad, MSc Public Health in Developing Countries alumna and consultant at Niti Aayog (National Institution For Transforming India), the Indian government’s premier think tank, talked about her current role at Niti Aayog and how her passion for developing countries led her to study at the School.
Urvashi had been working in public health for several years, prior to studying at LSHTM in 2008, where she was responsible for leading the health portfolio of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in India. She wanted to supplement her previous undergraduate and postgradute studies in Life Sciences, as well as her passion for working in developing countries, with a Masters in Public Health, hence her choosing to study the MSc Public Health in Developing Countries at the School.
Urvashi found it challenging returning to higher education after having worked for several years. “Some of the courses were quite technical, like epidemiology, and needed a lot of independent and additional effort to grasp for someone like me who had not studied them formally previously. Being a year-long programme, [the MSc] was very intensive especially since we were assessed in various ways – coursework, exams and dissertation. Time management and proper planning were crucial for completing the programme successfully.”
Having practical experience in public health aided Urvashi in her studies as she was able to understand the theoretical underpinnings of various initiatives that she had worked on in the real world. “Learning technical subjects like epidemiology has also been useful especially for interpreting scientific literature including from a policy-making perspective.”
During her time at the School, Urvashi was able to build valuable relationships, especially with her classmates. “It is wonderful to have a network of classmates working in public health in different capacities globally and this will always be helpful. I have called upon many of them for advice and there might also be concrete opportunities to collaborate on initiatives in the near future.”
Urvashi has had several proud moments in her career, but the most satisfying have been when the initiatives she has worked on have made a difference to the lives of people living in difficult circumstances. “For instance, when I led sanitation programmes, and families from urbans slums in India would tell me how access to a toilet has changed their lives for the better, I would feel very proud.”
I have worked in public health in different capacities including with a funding agency and grassroots NGO which provides diagnostic and treatment services in underserved areas in India. I will now be joining the Indian Government’s premier think tank, Niti Aayog, to work on national health policy issues. My specific role will be to work on a fifteen-year vision document for the country as well as strategy and action plans with a focus on health, water and sanitation.
Urvashi closed with the following advice to current students – “The year goes by very quickly, so make the most of it! In addition to the School’s resources and faculty, make sure to tap into the experiences of fellow students. There is a lot of diversity and expertise amongst the students themselves.”
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