Global Health Alumna Shubha - an advocate for children with developmental disabilities
Name: Shubha Nagesh
Degree: Master's in Global Health (2011)
Current role: Director, Research & Follow-up Programs, Latika Roy Foundation
Based: Uttarakhand, India
What is your educational overview?
I grew up in Bangalore, India on the campus of India's premium science institute. My childhood was very academically driven. “Education can give you any life you want”, my father told my two sisters and I. Our mother, who balanced work life and home became a role model for us.
Early on, I was drawn to development work, and during my first year of medical school in India, began work with an organization that supported people with disabilities, during vacation. Following my medical training, I worked as a clinician with the National Health Service, UK. Feeling a strong calling to give back to my country, I returned to India.
The Global Health programme raised the bar for me on my global health acumen - it taught me that work, integrity and personal values are closely intertwined.
Why did you choose KI?
My experience of working with immigrant populations and HIV positive mothers was enriching and pushed me towards my dual Master's in Health Administration and Global Health- the knowledge and skills placed me in a better position to enhance the quality of life of vulnerable populations.
KI was known as a leader in global health education, even in 2010. I was fortunate to receive an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, so I gladly marked the one-year Master’s in Global Health Programme programme as my first choice on my application.
How do you remember your time at KI?
The program was the stepping stone to my global health career. The programme was phenomenal in terms of diversity, experience and expertise. For the first time, I understood the value and the purpose of having people from varied contexts at the table. The faculty was incredible and pushed us to apply what we learned.
I made many wonderful friends and am still connected to them today. It warms my heart that I am forever connected to a great group of leaders and an outstanding support system, for life- access to the programme, the peer group, the resources, the mentorship, the encouragement, the engagement- it was wonderful!
How did you experience moving to Sweden?
Coming from India, I had a very different impression of Sweden before I arrived. I expected Scandinavia to be very cold year-round and sparsely populated. Spending a year in Stockholm completely changed my view. The camaraderie of the fellow students for experiencing Sweden was very much cherished. We traveled one weekend a month and explored a fair bit of Scandinavia.
What is your current role?
Following my graduation, I returned home to Dehradun and started work with a non-profit, The Latika Roy Foundation. The Foundation was awarded an innovation grant from Sight Savers to initiate a community-based follow up program for children with developmental disabilities who were assessed at the Foundation.
A decade later, I continue to support families whose children have disabilities in far and remote areas by taking services closer to health facilities in their community and work to strengthen evidence and data on childhood disability in the region.
We focus on implementation research that informs the effectiveness of our own programs. Realising that it is important to bring visibility to our work, I started writing about disability in the broad context of global health, including the publication International Health Policies, and for the Swedish Network of International Health
How did your studies at KI help your career development?
The global health program at KI gave me three tools- Access, Awareness and Acumen.
Access to the world of Global Health, connections with experts in the field, and opened up a world of opportunities for me.
“Awareness is the enemy of sanity, for once you hear the screaming, it never stops” (Emilie Autumn). It couldn't ring truer in my case. It made me aware of how much can be achieved if one makes a choice to make a difference.
Acumen is defined as “the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, in a particular domain”. The Global Health programme raised the bar for me on my global health acumen - it taught me that work, integrity and personal values are closely intertwined.
What are your future aspirations?
As a current student at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), I continue my leadership journey in global health and hope to connect the community I work with and work for, with those who make the decisions and craft the policies. I am also keen to encourage more women to opt for a career in global health in India.
What is your advice to current students?
A decade ago, training for global health was concentrated in the global north and so many of us had to study global health outside our countries and return home to build on the knowledge and apply the skills to our area of work.
In recent years, global health education has evolved, many young people are choosing to train in global health. As a mentor in Global Health Mentorships, I feel there is a strong need to speed the momentum, particularly in the global South and provide Mentorship.
I would like to especially encourage women to push hard to find a place at the table in leadership positions.