Renowned public health expert and Vice Chancellor AIPH University Bhubaneswar, Prof Dr Aditya Prasad Dash narrates on the global demand for professionals in the field and the vision and infrastructure of AIPH as a premier public health university of India.
Bhubaneswar, 26 May 2022: The outbreak of Covid-19 around two years ago caught the health and healthcare set up across the globe completely unawares. The enormity of the crisis nevertheless, necessitated a relook at the management of community wellbeing in a more holistic way from the traditional fire-fighting methodology.
The answer was Public Health, defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society.”
How Important Is Public Health?
“The importance of Public Health need not be over emphasized. During Covid-19 pandemic, the entire world understood the role of Public Health,” said renowned Public Health expert and Vice Chancellor of AIPH University, Bhubaneswar Prof. Dr AP Dash, the only Public Health university in Eastern India.
“Covid-19 not only reminded us about the importance of Public Health, but the pandemic clearly cautioned us about its’ role,” he added.
Need For Public Health Education & Research
As the pandemic was a wakeup call to address the overall health of the society in a structured way, Dr. Dash, a recipient of one of the topmost civilian honours in the country, ‘Padma Shri’, for his monumental research works on climate change and tropical diseases, said, “In my considered view, today every nation must give impetus to public health education and research and create opportunity for the skilled professionals of public health and allied sectors.”
Attributing reasons, Dr. Dash who comes to AIPH University Bhubaneswar with a long background as former Director of many national level research and educational institutions and former VC Central University of Tamil Nadu, said Public Health has a wide canvas. It encompasses diverse fields, ranging from epidemiology and public health to social work, covering areas like microbiology, biomedical sciences, virology, molecular health sciences, data sciences, health economics, information and communication technology, health care management, physiotherapy, geriatric nursing and clinical psychology etc.
Scope & Opportunities in Public Health For Students
As the chorus grows globally for Public Health personnel to manage future crisis and augment the present arrangements, Dr. Dash foresees tremendous scope and opportunity for the professionals. “The demand of Public Health professionals is quite high. In good Universities with standard course curricula, the students get placement before their results are declared,” he said.
Detailing the career options available in the sector and the opportunities for young students wanting to pursue the course, Dr. Dash said, “What is needed is ‘awareness’. Today’s youth should be well aware of the importance of Public Health in comparison to other courses. Once the clear awareness spreads, more number of student shall come forward to craft a career in Public Health and allied sectors.”
Programs at AIPH University Bhubaneswar
AIPH University has its roots in the Asian Institute of Public Health, which was started two decades back and has a long background in public health education and research. The institute is backed by reputed Indian and American doctors, researchers and professionals was formally constituted as a university in 2018 under Odisha State Legislature. AIPH University Bhubaneswar has created a niche as the first and only public health university of eastern India.
When asked as to how the students would choose the right programmes to achieve their career goals given the fact that the AIPH University offers a wide range of programmes in areas of Public Health, Health Management, Biological Sciences and Allied Health Sciences, Dr. Dash, a former consultant to WHO, said It depends on the background education of the students and their interest in subjects.
“Public Health has a wide spectrum. The students can easily choose their favourite subject. The faculty members can also help the students in selecting the right subject which will help them in pursuing higher studies or fetch employability in the global arena of Public Health,” he added.
“The university has begun taking applications to various courses for the academic session 2022-23. Interested candidates can visit AIPH University website to know more about various programs offered”, informs Prof Dash.
Advanced Research and BSL-3 Lab at AIPH
Speaking on the unique features of AIPH University, Bhubaneswar, Dr Dash said, “Ours is the first functional Public Health university in India, apart from being the only one in Eastern India. We have excellent faculty, collaboration abroad, updated course curricula, world class research ecosystem and exclusive student-faculty interaction. It provides ample opportunities to students for their growth and development.”
Moreover, the university has a movable Biosafety Level 3 (BSL – 3) laboratory which helps the faculty and students in advanced training and research works. “We are the only university in India which has a movable BSL-3 lab. Lots of high-end research are being and can be done. It strengthens the research ecosystem of the university to a great extent,” he said.
Shedding light on the research carried out at the university, Dr Dash, who headed various research institutes Under the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) in the past, said in a very short span of time, the university has published one paper in Nature, one in Lancet and one in Nature medicine; in addition to several excellent publications in high impact peer reviewed international journals.
“The H-index of the university has become 20 and citation per paper is over 26. These are two important scientometric indices to measure research output of an educational institution. It is much more than few new Government universities which are ten years older.”
Placement And Collaborations
Dr Dash said because of the high quality of education and research facilities offered by the institution, the students have been offered placement in various reputed organizations.
The AIPH University has strong collaborations with renowned institutes in India and abroad, like the ICMR, DBT institutes, ICAR institutes and many universities in the state, apart from a number of universities in USA.
The UGC has also issued ‘2f’ certificate to the university. The Microbiology Department of AIPHU has received the ‘Best Department’ honour from the Microbiologists Society of India.
Community Connect and Enriching Public Health Education ecosystem
On the community connect front, he said the AIPH University has two field sites one in Khordha district and the other in Sundergarh district to carry out field-oriented community-based studies in Odisha.
Since over the last few years the Capital city of Odisha has established itself as an important education hub in the country, Dr Dash said the presence of the Public Health university with its innovative teaching and research will help enrich the education ecosystem of the state and the entire eastern India region.