The Department of Global Health and Population (GHP) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health honors the memory of Aaka (Aakanksha) Pande, a 2005 graduate of the department’s two-year Master of Science degree program (SM2). As a student in the department, Aaka was recognized by both faculty and classmates as passionately committed to pushing boundaries and seeking solutions to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. She completed an internship at the World Bank in 2004, and in 2005, Aaka received the department’s Master’s Thesis Award for her thesis entitled “Do Pills Promote Prevention? The Impact of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy on Sexual Risk Behavior on Jodhpur, India.” This accomplishment furthered her enthusiasm and commitment to improving the welfare of poor and marginalized populations. The GHP community is proud to have been an integral part of Aaka’s journey that led her to a distinguished career in global health.
Aaka joined the World Bank in 2005 as a Junior Professional Associate to work on health systems in South Asia, an experience that motivated her to return to Harvard to further sharpen her analytical skills for application to development. She graduated from the PhD in Health Policy program in 2011 and returned to the World Bank as a Young Professional, rising to become a Senior Economist (Health) in 2015. She held this position until her death in July 2018. Her work at the World Bank included strengthening country health systems, addressing humanitarian crises, and creating novel tools to assess the health impact of conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. She worked to strengthen the capacity of female health workers in rural Pakistan, combat the transmission of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, and most recently, spearheaded a signature World Bank initiative to provide quality and affordable healthcare to Syrian refugees in Jordan. She made invaluable contributions to the Flagship Course on Health System Strengthening and was a guest editor of a special issue in the journal Health Systems & Reform on the Middle East and North Africa.
Aaka cared deeply about educating the future leaders of global health and development. She was generous with her time, mentoring young minds and encouraging them to pursue their passions in research, while always available to guide them through the obstacles that they faced along the way. As a researcher herself, she strongly encouraged the pursuit of science and learning new skills to help generate knowledge to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged.
To honor Aaka Pande’s deep commitment to research and service in global public health, the Fund will be used to provide financial support for summer research internships to students in the two-year Master of Science degree program in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The focus will be on internships reflecting Aaka’s legacy, including research on the health of underprivileged women and children, the delivery of health services in conflict zones and to refugees, and the development of health care systems for low-income settings and/or in low-income countries. The financial support awarded to students will be known as Aaka Pande Memorial Awards.
The support will help create opportunities for these students to travel to field sites and gain hands-on research experience. These learning experiences help nurture the deepening of student’s interests, broaden and strengthen their understanding of the myriad of challenges of development, and help mold future global health researchers, carrying forward Aaka’s legacy.
Contributions can be made in memory of Aaka by credit card at this page:
To give by mail, please enclose a note designating the gift to the Aaka Pande Memorial Fund and/or write that in the memo section of the check. Make the check out to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Mailing information and more details on ways to make a gift can be found here: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/giving/how-to-make-a-gift/#check
To give by wire transfer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or Kristen Rozansky, Vice Dean for External Relations, (email@example.com) to request account information. When initiating the wire transfer, be sure to note the designation as the Aaka Pande Memorial Fund.
We are grateful for all contributions in memory of Aaka and for the impact this fund will have on students carrying forth her passion and commitment to global public health.