MSc Health Policy Planning and Financing (2011) alumna, Claire Chaumont tells us about studying at LSHTM and how her training at the school has been useful at key points in her professional life, including in her new job as Director of Program Evidence, Measurement & Evaluation at the END Fund.
Claire started her career working as a management consultant for hospitals in France, after getting a first master’s in International Business from Science Po Paris. However, she soon realized that she lacked some foundational knowledge in health. “It was frustrating to implement policies without fully understanding their impact. Also, I had always wanted to work in global health, but didn’t quite know how to enter this field. I knew LSHTM was a respected institution in this field, so I looked into their programmes and applied.” Claire told us that she had initially planned to apply for the MSc in Public Health for Development, but changed her mind at the last minute and applied to the double degree in Health Policy Planning and Financing with LSHTM and LSE instead. “This turned out to be a great decision.”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for this degree. During the summer of 2011, I moved to Mexico for my master’s dissertation. When I contacted the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP), I was put in touch with Dr. Gustavo Nigenda. He agreed to host me in part because he had himself studied in the same master’s programme some years ago. That was an amazing stroke of luck. I ended up working with the INSP for more than 4 years as a Research Director in their Centre for Health in Systems Research.” During that time, Claire coordinated a multi-million dollar research project on the costs of HIV interventions in Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda. Over the course of the project, Claire and her team trained teams to visit over 500 health facilities to collect data. The subsequent results were shared with governments and published widely. “I am very proud of how we managed to develop strong academic relationships across all five countries, including with individuals who I still collaborate 7 years after this project began. Organizing such a large scale survey was also quite a logistic feat. I am glad to have been a part of it.”
Claire told us that while studying an MSc at LSHTM, the biggest challenge she faced was how to deal with her own FOMO (fear of missing out). “The class schedules at LSHTM and LSE don’t quite overlap, which made it particularly hard to select classes in the second part of the year. I had to make a lot of hard trade-offs. Also the programme only being a year, it all went really fast. Looking back, I regret not engaging more with faculty.”
Claire formed good relationships while studying at LSHTM. “First, I joined a community of friends, not just colleagues. I have kept in touch with several of my classmates in the last 7 years since the programme finished, and got a chance to meet with many of them in places as varied as Cambodia, Geneva, the UK, the USA, Burundi and Mexico. These are people I feel privileged to have in my life, they have also been an invaluable source of support.” Claire advises current students to be curious and try new things. “Engage with faculty. Learn from your fellow students, they have so much to offer.”
Four years after graduating from LSHTM, Claire moved to Boston to do a Doctorate in Public Health at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “Again, I know my LSHTM master’s was a big plus for my application. The solid foundation I had gained in health policy and health financing was also useful when navigating what classes to take and what topic to focus on for my final doctoral project.” “When I got accepted in the new Harvard Doctorate in Public Health, I turned to three of my friends from HPPF to ask for their advice – they advised I go. It’s precious to have this.”
Last year, Claire joined the END Fund to work as their new Director for Program Evidence, Measurement and Evaluation. The END Fund is a recently created organisation working in raising and investing funds to help end neglected tropical diseases, specifically onchocerciasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. “I’m there to help the organization grows its measurement and evaluation efforts, and further develop our capacity to measure the impact of our work and increase our reach. We’re still a young organization, so there are many ways in which we can better use our data for decision-making. I’m using some of my Master’s teaching on health policy and health financing on a regular basis. It’s not often that you can leverage analytical work towards such a concrete goal – ending preventable diseases in the next decade. It’s very exciting.”
In the long term, Claire hopes that her work can help developing strong health systems, which can really provide for everyone. But it’s not just about systems. “In the long run, I wish my work can play a small part in improving health governance and international relations at the global level, in a more respectful and inclusive way. I hope to be a small part of this.”
Feature image courtesy of Claire Chaumont. Image shows Claire (centre) with Karolina Tuomisto and Stephanie Kumpunen, two of her MSc friends
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