A Review of Master’s in Public Health Education in India Completed

Area(s) of work: Education, Health

Duration: December 2020 to March 2022

Status: Completed

Funder/ Partner: Thakur Family Foundation

A study of current public health programmes in India showed that 44 universities in the country offer a Master’s in Public Health Course (Tiwari et al., 2018). These include medical as well as non-medical universities. However, there is no central regulatory body governing public health course offerings in the country.The curriculum and core competencies offered therefore, vary to a very large extent. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has recently released its model curriculum for the Masters in Public Health course(Public Health Taskforce, 2018) developed by a Task force on Public Health Education (PHE) which included public health education experts from India and the UK. This curriculum tries to improve on the current shortcomings of the PHE courses available in India and provide a basic framework. However, its current acceptability and feasibility by universities is unknown especially in the absence of a central accrediting agency in charge of PHE.  Literature also shows that offerings of master’s level courses are also likely to be deterred by the absence of faculty, student interest and job opportunities.  Therefore, the field of public health education is mired with many unanswered questions, foremost of which is whether the current curricular framework either prescribed by the government or as being currently practiced by the institutions is satisfactory and works towards people-centered health care. 

While vetting the proposed curricular framework is important, of equal importance is how PHE is delivered across institutions in India and whether students graduating from these institutions can pursue public health careers they had envisioned. The ongoing pandemic has exposed the absence of public-health-orientation of the health care services in both public and private sectors in India. Therefore, it is more apparent than ever that our health systems are too disease-and-treatment-oriented and not adequately prepared to handle a situation where both prevention and care is deeply linked to community and social behavior. The need for a responsive MPH curriculum and its delivery leading to a well-trained workforce in this area has never been so acute. 

The current study seeks to understand the entire spectrum of the MPH programme in India including a critical appraisal of the current MPH model curriculum proposed by the MOHFW as well as those being practiced by the institutions, while also reviewing the adequacy of resources made available to students (mainly teaching resources as well as academic research opportunities), amount of government support available to universities (public financing) and finally the study of existing job opportunities for graduates.