We interviewed alumnus Malik, from the Maldives, about his life and experiences since graduating from LSHTM. He studied the MSc Public Health in Developing Countries (now known as MSc Public Health for Development) and has since gone on to develop his career in some amazing ways…
Hi Malik. Thanks for coming back to talk to us! Can you tell us about what you have been up to since you graduated from LSHTM?
My year studying the MSc Public Health in Developing Countries (now known as MSc Public Health for Development) at LSHTM was life-changing. I would say that since I graduated it has been so helpful; I have progressed so far in such a short time – less than two years. After graduating from the programme, I returned to the Maldives and got a job as the Head of Quality Improvement in the main tertiary hospital in the country. My responsibilities were to look into patient safety, clinical audits and to develop protocols and guidelines – something I had learned during the MSc – but I had to apply the knowledge in a slightly different setting because it was a clinical hospital setting rather than disease prevention on the ground, so the application aspects helped me a lot.
What have you been doing outside of your main role in the hospital?
My work outside of the hospital has included a lot of voluntary and technical work in health NGOs like the Diabetes Society and the Cancer Society of Maldives, which I co-founded. We have progressed a lot with developing screening programmes for cancer. We have conducted screening camps on the islands where services are not available. This was the core of what I learned at LSHTM, when I took the non-communicable disease control module and this helped me improve those programmes a lot more.
How have the skills you learned during the programme helped you in your career?
The research skills that I learned during the programme have helped me go more into the teaching side of applying knowledge, rather than just using it for the preventive or clinical aspects of health. In the hospital, we did not have a formal teaching or academic programme per se, but I was tasked with developing such a programme with a few colleagues. The National Healthcare Academy was born last year April and I was appointed as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs – this was huge progress in my career because earlier I was more clinically or programme based. Now I have moved into training, teaching, and improving on research, which we lack a lot in most developing countries – this has given me a huge boost.
Are there any other achievements that you are particularly proud of?
One other huge achievement was the formation of the Maldives Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance with membership at the Global NCD Alliance. I co-founded it with three other NGOs and we have been liaising with the Global NCD Alliance to develop our programmes back in the Maldives. This has advanced my career because through the Alliance I have had lots of networking opportunities, attended conferences and gained lots of technical knowledge.
What is your plan for the next year?
The couple of years since my MSc have been a huge boost, and now I am moving on to even more studies! I have been awarded the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship from the US State Department, to study Public Health Policy and Management at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health. A lot of the coursework and professional affiliations will include working with the US CDC and many other international NGOs, like the Carter Foundation. It all depends on me how the programme is tailored and developed; I want to use this year to work on areas that I’m more interested in, and I will definitely learn some more research skills and then try to bring it back home – it’s one area in which we lag behind.
Any final thoughts on your MSc at LSHTM?
This programme has broadened my horizons; for me, it has been life changing.