Smitimedha Das, MPH

Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology
Public Health

What does public health mean to you?

For me public health is like an ocean, it is a never ending process. We all know people suffer in many ways in their day to day life, whether its physical, mental, financial and social and in various other ways. But health ought to get prioritized since only a healthy person can enjoy the money he earns and the societal privileges entitled. A public health professional gets the opportunity to be actively part of the peoples’ suffering.  Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Public Health is like that body part which is indispensable, it is an essential part of society. A doctor treats people who are sick but a public health professional works on not letting the disease reach the general public by cultivating knowledge in them regarding various health issues and how to avoid them. The fundamental motto of public health is“ It saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering.”

What inspired you to study public health?

Just after completing my graduation I got an opportunity to be part of JHPIEGO for a short period of time in DAKSHATA project (Maternal & Child Health program). While working there I came across many rural and poverty stricken areas where health care is the need of the hour. I found out these people were ignorant about the existing healthcare system and in some places superstitious beliefs prevailed which prohibited them to access the latest healthcare facilities which was available to them. The best part about public health is that it targets people on a large scale and fosters awareness and prevention. In this contemporary healthcare scenario, public health provides plethora of opportunities and knowledge. This inspired me to pursue this subject.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career or studies so far?

Though there have been numerous enriching experiences which have been inspirational and rewarding at the same time, the single most event which comes to my mind is being selected as ” TIPH Global ambassador “. I feel that this has been recognition for my hard work and application of my experience in field and project work. This has given me the opportunity to interact with students and faculty of universities around the world and has been an extremely enriching and rewarding experience.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing public health today?

According to me the biggest challenge facing public health today is disparities in healthcare access and outcomes, unmet health needs, delays in receiving care, and an inability to receive preventative treatment. In the vulnerable communities, there is lack of access to quality healthcare. The high cost of care, lack of (or inadequate) insurance coverage, lack of available services, and a lack of culturally-competent care are some contributing factors to this problem.

What advice would you offer someone who is thinking about a career in public health? 

People typically choose public health, when they are keenly interested in helping others and improving the society. Public Health is a vast subject and has a wide scope in the fields of health and developing sectors. It has many career options like epidemiology, bio statistics, global health, health policy, maternal and child health, nutrition and many more. A career in public health gives a sense of meaning and purpose as it fulfills the satisfaction of having a good career path and at the same time ensures moral upliftment by helping the needy.