India’s first Master’s Program in Public Health (MPH) was started in January 1997 by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an institution of national importance established by an act of Parliament. So far nine batches have graduated. MPH was not a required qualification for any job positions in India at that time. In spite of this, the course has gained demand and recognition, and all the graduates have been able to find gainful and meaningful employment.
More institutions in India and neighboring countries are planning to start an MPH program and the demand for guidance from the SCTIMST for such programs is increasing. Demand for the MPH program from the student community is also increasing.
Around 40% of our graduates are working with the various Indian state government health departments, 21% with non-government organizations, 16% with academic institutions, 10% with World health organization/UNICEF, 8% outside India, and the remaining are enrolled for advanced (PhD) studies.
One of the major challenges for the program is recruiting and retaining good faculty, consistent with the expected challenge for a developing country, even in one of the top most institutions in the country.
Future plans for the program are to increase both student and faculty strength, network with other public health institutions such as the public health foundation of India exploring the possibility of sharing both international and national faculty, and provide guidance for additional MPH programs in the country. Another challenge is to create career paths for MPH graduates in government health systems.