About GPHX

GPHX, or the Global Public Health eXchange, is an informal platform where students and practitioners of Public Health come together to exchange ideas and expertise, learn from one another, and co-create a community of practice, which, hopefully, will provide some clues on how to transform the terrain of public health education. 

This project was born out of discussions between Aneek and Pranab, as they reflected on how the training programs in Community Medicine could offer more life and job skills to the trainees. These discussions started off with questions from several public health students and aspirants, who were either looking for more information on a career in Public Health (aka Community Medicine in India) or looking for inspiration after having entered the MD training pathway. The initial seeds for this platform were sown in quite the profligate fashion by Pranab, on his personal (and erratic) blog, Scepticemia, where he would talk about career pathways after doing an MD in Community Medicine. 

The idea of establishing an audio/video-based blog (or should we say, podcast?) was entirely Aneek’s as he advocated for moving away from a “wall of text” approach to blogging, which had been Pranab’s modality of choice thus far! 

We hope that through these interactions, we will be able to foster conversations which will bring change to the way we do Public Health and Community Medicine teaching/learning in India. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us not only the glaring gaps in the public health systems across the world, but also the power of public health, when done well! It has also exposed the need to train better public health professionals, who have real world skills, and can learn on the job. It is our hope that on GPHX, we will be able to talk with students, teachers, professionals, practitioners, and aspirants of Public Health and figure out some ways to improve the way we learn the art and science of our craft. 

Please drop us a line if you want us to improve on anything, have tips or pointers, or want to come chat with us some day! 

About Umme

Umme H. Faisal is a physician and researcher from India. She aspires to be a neurosurgeon. She graduated MBBS with an Honours in Surgery from the West Bengal University of Health Sciences in 2021.   

As a starry-eyed medical student, she spent most of her free time in the hospital ward. She soon began to fall in love with clinical medicine.  This love continued onto internship. If anyone mentioned ‘Bed Number 56’, she’d remember that it was the bed number of Mrs X — the frail, old, lady who only let one particular doctor cannulate her veins, or the old gentleman in the corner who always solved the English crossword, or that young kid who seldom spoke but expressed his appreciation for the doctors he liked by making hand-drawn cards for them.  

It was during this time that she realized that at the heart of the practice of medicine was empathy: Our patients are more than their names or the disease they present with. While taking care of patients, one learns to love their idiosyncrasies. Each patient is unique, with a story to tell.

After her internship, she worked as a Junior Resident at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Kalyani. She soon realized that an important way to improve patient care is to thoroughly assess patient outcomes. She is always on the lookout for ways to improve healthcare delivery. She is now a research collaborator on neurosurgical clinical outcomes research at Mayo Clinic.  

She is an avid reader and an articulate writer.  She has an undying love for the history of medicine and she can be found on Twitter writing long #HistMed threads. Besides all her academic writing, she has also authored a chapter on “Drugs” for a popular science book, Shortcuts: Medicine (Publisher: Unipress UK, release date:  2023). She appears in a recurring segment called ‘Stethospeaks with Dr Umme H. Faisal’ on Bedside Rounds, an American College of Physicians accredited podcast by Dr Adam Rodman MD, about the History of Medicine. She is a fellow of the LedBy Accelerator, a year-long Harvard-incubated social leadership program. 

Her Twitter alter ego is @Stethospeaks, and she can also be found on LinkedIn and Mastodon. If you wish to drop her an email, write to her at uhf@gphx.org

About Parth

Parth Sharma is a physician, researcher, and writer. He obtained his MBBS degree from Christian Medical College Vellore in 2019. In his third year in medical school, while most of his friends were doing elective postings in neurology, cardiology, nuclear medicine, and other highly specialized departments, he decided to spend 2 weeks in the Low-Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU), a.k.a the Department of  Family Medicine. Sitting inside a church in rural Vellore he observed Dr. Sushil John treat patients with a variety of illnesses – psychiatric, respiratory, and metabolic to name a few. Children or adults, it didn’t matter, Dr. Sushil could treat them all. He saw the respect the people of the village had for him. Some just visited the make shift to talk to him. That’s when he realized the beauty of community medicine. During his internship, he again decided to go against the flow and volunteered to stay for a month in the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA), a peripheral secondary care hospital run by CMC. Work did not feel like work anymore. Doing rounds at 11 pm at night just to find out if patients had had dinner, sitting outside the ward with the patients, playing with kids in the paediatric ward, walking to nearby villages to talk to people – he enjoyed every moment he spent in RUHSA. 

His firm belief that primary care is what the country needs and super specialty sucks was not good enough to convince the universe as he was posted for a year after his internship in the Department of Medical Oncology. But as they say ‘everything happens for a reason.’ A year in the department changed his perspective. He connected with patients at a deeper level, cried with them, laughed with them, and held their hands during their final moments. The following year in Emergency Medicine exposed him to even more suffering, a lot of which was avoidable. He ultimately developed his interest in Palliative Care and Preventive Oncology. He aims to work towards reducing suffering by either preventing the disease or improving care when the treatment becomes more torturous than the disease itself. He is currently doing MD in Preventive and Social Medicine from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi.

A researcher by passion, he loves working with numbers. He was blessed with various research opportunities during his time at CMC. He represented his institute at international and national conferences, often being the youngest person in the room. As a Commission Fellow in the Lancet’s Citizen’s Commission, he is working on evidence synthesis on improving human resources for health in India. His work on the use of Digital Health in India to achieve Universal Health Coverage is nearing completion. He also works as a researcher for a non-profit organization called Association for Socially Applicable Research (ASAR) where he is currently involved in projects related to mental health, reproductive health, palliative care, and health economics.
He also recently discovered his passion for writing and his articles have been featured in Harvard Public Health Magazine, Think Global Health, Hindustan Times, and The Wire Science. He is also the founder and editor of an upcoming public health blog called Nivarana where he discusses relevant public health and social issues in India. He actively voices his opinions on Indian public health on Twitter (@Sharma25Parth). Feel free to buy him a cup of coffee and then (at your own risk!) listen to him rant about the Indian public health system.

About Pranab

Pranab Chatterjee is a public health physician, who obtained his MBBS from Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, Asia’s oldest and among the finest medical teaching/training institutions. He went on to obtain his MD in Community Medicine from University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. After his MD, Pranab chose a somewhat unconventional career pathway. He forsook a couple of Senior Residency posts in New Delhi-based medical schools and started working as a researcher in the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), working on One Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance. This period of work was very enriching for him, and he identified that despite having multiple interests, his passions lay in the AMR/One Health work. 

After a couple of years at PHFI, he moved to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), where, for the first couple of years he worked as a Scientist in the Division of Epidemiology at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Here, he had the opportunity to not only work on important and interesting research projects, but also lead or co-lead some of them. This was a unique opportunity as well, and quite different from his prior experiences. This was invaluable experience as he learnt how to do set up his own research projects in complex settings, requiring a wider repertoire of skills, containing more than just epidemiology or biostats knowhow! 

A few months before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he was transferred to work at the ICMR headquarters in New Delhi, to work on a disruptive innovation – ICMR’s global health research cell. When the pandemic broke out, he was given the responsibility to manage the secretariat of the COVID-19 National Task Force, yet another amazing learning experience, where he learnt more about how national level policies were framed in the face of a global public health crisis. 

As of the time of launching of this site, he is pursuing a PhD in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. With COVID-19 settling down and the world going back to a new normal (fingers crossed!) Pranab has started going back to his original field of interest and is planning to work on a thesis which examines community stewardship of antimicrobial use and AMR using a One Health lens. (Wish him luck) 

He has been blogging on and off for years (more off than on of late), on his personal blogging site – Scepticemia. He is also a twitter lurker and can be found on @Scepticemia. His online e-portfolio of public health work can be found here (this is likely to be outdated, fair warning!).