New partnership between HSPH and India aims to strengthen public health efforts in that country

Peter Berman

July 15, 2013 — A new initiative at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) aims to formalize and build on longstanding ties between the School and India. The new effort—the HSPH-India Health Partnership (HSPH-IHP)—will support and help coordinate the School’s wide range of existing research and educational activities in India, as well as encourage new ventures.

[[Peter Berman]], professor of the practice of global health systems and economics in the Department of Global Health and Population (GHP), is coordinating the new initiative.

HSPH has been involved in research and educational efforts on the Indian subcontinent since the 1950s. Currently, nearly two dozen researchers and faculty members from the School are conducting research, teaching, and working to translate research into practice across the region, in collaboration with a range of local partners.

“The School established a formal China Initiative in 2005 to help coordinate many of our public health efforts in the most populous nation in the world,” said HSPH Dean Julio Frenk in an announcement about the new initiative. “India is the world’s second most populous country—and projected to become the world’s most populous by 2030. Like China, India faces important challenges and opportunities in the sphere of public health. Given India’s place in the world and the School’s longstanding ties to the region, it is a perfect time to establish a more formal mechanism to maximize the effectiveness of our activities and to encourage greater participation by our students and faculty in multiple departments at HSPH and across Harvard University.”

HSPH-IHP will develop symposia in India and Boston to address public health needs, sponsor technical meetings in both countries, and provide opportunities for student and faculty exchanges. It will also offer assistance to HSPH faculty and India-based partners to create new activities and partnerships, obtain funding for new and existing activities, and manage international grants and contracts.

During a recent trip to India with several HSPH colleagues—[[Richard Cash]], senior lecturer on global health; [[David Hunter]], Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention and Dean for Academic Affairs; and [[Ashish Jha]], professor of health policy and management—Berman worked with several large academic institutions, with the World Health Organization, and with the India Ministry of Health on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding that Frenk signed with the Ministry’s Secretary of Health, Keshav Desiraju, in early May.

Berman, who first joined HSPH in 1991, left the School in 2004 to work in New Delhi for the World Bank, serving for four years as lead health economist in health, nutrition, and population for India. He later spent three years working in Washington, D.C. on strengthening global health systems.

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HSPH and Ministry of Health of India formalize collaboration on public health issues (HSPH feature)