The difficult experience during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for India to look at the public health domain from a multidisciplinary approach and address the prevailing healthcare challenges in the country with a template that can be applied to the world, experts said at the launch of the School of Public Health at Ahmedabad University.

The Ahmedabad University on Tuesday announced the launch of its School of Public Health with a vision to create initiatives and research that lead to improvement in the human and planetary health.

Kaumudi Joshipura, Doctor of Science in Epidemiology from Harvard University, USA, has been named the Dean for the School.

The School of Public Health has received support from the Susmita and Subroto Bagchi Chair Professorship. In his address on the launch, Subroto Bagchi, Co-Founder of Mindtree, and Chairman, Odisha Skill Development Authority, said, “The difficulties that came up during the Covid pandemic gave us an opportunity to create a future in which, a study of public health in universities will give us a multidisciplinary approach. Through this we can address the healthcare challenges such as growing instances of non-communicable diseases, issues of geriatric care and palliative care etc.”

He added that India holds the potential to build templets in public health administration for not just our country but can provide it to the world.

Joshipura commented, “The School of Public Health will build on Ahmedabad University’s overall vision and interdisciplinary programmes, and focus on improving human and planetary health through multiple creative initiatives integrating research, education, and health promotion.”

Participating in a panel discussion on Planetary and Human Health, Dileep Mavlankar, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health- Gandhinagar stated that the climate change and planetary health have diverse impact on human health and animal population.

Even as India exhibited its prowess in public health on several fronts, including immunisation programmes, family planning and eradication of polio and small pox, there are still some blind spots in the Indian public health space. Mavlankar said, “That has been the environmental health. Though we are sensitive towards the impacts of environmental damage, but we don’t look at it from the health point of view. The environmental health is missing from our public health programmes,” said Mavlankar.

On the launch of the School, Pankaj Chandra, Vice Chancellor, Ahmedabad University, said, “The School of Public Health will foster better health through education and research. Through the School, we will seed teaching and research in one of the most critical areas of our times. We will establish a research programme around data and evidence in public health.”

The School of Public Health will focus initially on Environmental Health and Analytical Sciences, including Data Science, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and executive education.

Sanjay Lalbhai, Chancellor of Ahmedabad University, said, “When you compare the 1.2 billion people that India has and the outlay we are spending on health, you realise how insufficient it is. The Government is doing a lot but pushing all the problems there will not help. Private institutions need to come in to make a huge difference. We are aware that the challenges are immense. With the School of Public Health, we are going to create solutions.”