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What are my career prospects in India?

Q: I am a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Texas School of Public Health, majoring in health Services Research/Health Economics while my minors are Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Would you let me know the prospects of my concentration in India?

A:India is on an economic growth curve right now and the number of both private and specialty hospitals is on the rise. As the cost of treatment is relatively low, compared to the costs in the advanced countries, and as Indian doctors and surgeons have much higher hands-on experience than peers of their age group in the West (largely because of the much larger number of patients they examine), many foreign patients are coming to India for treatment. All this growth in healthcare for those who can afford is creating an awareness for the need for better facilities for the not-so rich. In other words, public health in India will become increasingly important. For example, the campaign against HIV/AIDS has already gained great momentum, with many NGOs and high profile players like actor Richard Gere active. India has achieved certain level of control over malaria. During the recent tsunami disaster, as an Indian I am proud to say that hardly any major epidemic broke out. There are experts like Dr Thankappan and Dr D Varatharajan (Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute, Thiruvananthapuram) and Prof. V R Muraleedharan (IIT, Chennai) who are resarching into the economics of healthcare in India and public health. An India-born Ph D in public health/ health economics will get opportunities to do research (and do a bit of teaching). Also, if one is gifted with writing and communication skills, one can look forward to working for newspapers like The Hindu and the Times of India or television channels like NDTV and Headlines Today. Your knowledge of epidemiology and biostatistics will come in handy. You may also look for openings in the health policy area in the Ministry in New Delhi.

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