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India’s First Public Health University in Odisha

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Pradipta Kumar MohapatraPradipta Kumar Mohapatra, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Odisha speaks to Kartik Sharma, ENN about the first Public Health University in Odisha

Government has planned to establish India’s first public health university in Odisha. What will be the significance of this university?

We are going to establish the first public health university of India. This project will be implemented in collaboration with Prof Pinaki Panigrahi of AIPH. He works with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The state Government has allotted 50 acres of land for the proposed university at Gramdiha. The initiative will definitely help us in working with the public health issues. Health is the most important area of concern for us in the state. Although we are taking many steps in public health through medical colleges but that does not suffice. This university is very important because in Odisha we have 16 high focused districts where poor and backward poor people like tribal,scheduled caste and other backward classes live. This makes it very important for us to come up with a university dedicated to public health.

What will be the target area of this university?

We have just signed the MoU for this university, which is also the first in Odisha to be established through the direct support of a foreign university – University of Nebraska Medical Centre, College of Public Health, USA. The MoU was signed between me and Prof Pinaki Panigrahi of AIPH. Now they will be submitting a University bill, which our State Government will try to get passed in the state assembly. We are targeting to get the university bill passed in the monsoon session of the state assembly.

How will this university help in curbing public health issues?

It will be of tremendous help to the public. Today, we have a lot of public health issues spread across Odisha. Diarrhea, malaria and dengue are some of the bigger public health issues in Odisha. Once this University comes up, we will also be going to have a public health cadre. Right now everybody is on the clinical side. We need to have the specialist doctors in the public health area. We need to train the doctors who have their inclination towards public health. Soon we will have a cadre of health personnel and the university will give us the research inputs, we will also produce public health personnel by training the doctors and other related people in the university. In this way the public health issues will be tackled very effectively and that is our objective. From the onset of this university the big focus will be on preparing public health specialist doctors.

What are the benefits that the University will offer to the common people of Odisha?

There will be a lot of benefits to the people. The entire university will be setup by the doctors from the US, which will ensure the quality of services at the global level. However right now we can’t predict much about the impacts of the university. We have initiated from our side by giving them the land, now its upto them to execute the process successfully.

By when the university will be completely functional?

Our aim is to start the university by 2016. Everything has happened in last four five months only. We are looking forward with a positive outlook. Public Health University has nothing to do with Medical Council of India (MCI) and the related agencies. It is not a medical college or related institute. There will be courses and classes on public health and related issues. Mainly it will focus on training our public personnel.

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