IIHMR University signs MoU with ‘SEARCH

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IIHMR University has entered a memorandum of Understanding with the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) on a virtual platform today on public health research along with the exchange of expertise and producing research outputs regarding public health issues related to rural and tribal population covering, national, regional, and global perspective. The MoU is for the term of five years and will be valid till the 31 December 2025.

Dr. Ashok Agarwal, Founder, Trustee, IIHMR University, said, it is indeed a great honour to work together with SEARCH. Gadchiroli, where SEARCH is working, has shown work in the field; action research was done and implemented. That is the real outcome of the research. Joining IIHMR and SEARCH will be complementary to each other. The learning is tremendous in Gadchiroli, and I am confident that our students and faculty will benefit from this collaboration.

The MoU signing ceremony lasted for an hour which was moderated by Dr. Shiv Tripathi, Professor & Dean, Training, IIHMR University. The dignitaries who were a part of the session included, Dr. Ashok Agarwal, Founder, Trustee, IIHMR University, Dr. Abhay Bhang, Chairperson, SEARCH, Dr. S D Gupta, Chairperson, IIHMR University, Dr. P. R Sodani, President (Officiating), IIHMR University, & Mr. Anand Bhang, In Charge, Resource Mobilization & External Partnerships, SEARCH.

Dr. Abhay Bhang said that this collaboration has enormous potential. SEARCH works at Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, which is a remote place. “IIHMR’s strong background and patronage will bring young students and faculty to visit Gadchiroili, learn from reality in the field, and emerge several productive policies and programs. The students will participate in the research programs and jointly think and design research studies and programs. He said that “we are incredibly fortunate that we have found a magic lever and it is-go to the people, live amongst them listen to them. Going among the community and learning about public health problems, and hence policies and priorities emerge, and this approach does miracle. For the past 35 years, we are re-learning public health, and it is a very productive experience. We have the theoretical knowledge of public health. The interaction between theory and practice is exceptionally productive.”

Dr. S D Gupta said that “I am delighted on the collaboration. It is a new beginning; let us demonstrate to the world that academia and those working at the grassroots level will bring more significant results and change people’s lives.” He further added that IIHMR takes pride in bringing a paradigm change to the management of health systems. The MoU should lead the way for all of us to do pathbreaking work in the most deprived communities living in the states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Bihar, and Rajasthan. We have an opportunity through this collaboration were young students from such areas can be identified and transformed into leaders. COVID 19 has exposed that the practical competencies needed in public health are very minimal. As we established the new School of Public Health, our focus will be on implementation science. “

Dr. P. R Sodani, President (Officiating), IIHMR University, said that this is a historical MoU that will give us the advantage to understand the grassroots issues of public health. Our students will better understand the real problems faced in the field and how to translate these problems through management solutions. Through this MoU, IIHMR will gain from the work of SEARCH, and our students and faculties will closely work to get field exposure. We will also work together in several research area, and in implementing research. We will also work together on capacity development programs.

The institutional collaboration ranges from the internship opportunity provided to the students of IIHMR University and field exposure in SEARCH, the local community as well as hospital-based program and research to better understand and contribute to field-based program implementation, the involvement of IIHMR University faculty in SEARCH’s existing research projects, data analysis and writing joint research papers for publication and develop, design, and organize joint training and capacity building programs in public health areas are also a part of the agreement.

Mr. Anand Bhang, In Charge, Resource Mobilization & External Partnerships, SEARCH, said that the students of IIHMR have contributed to several of our programs at Gadchiroli in the past, including the programs report of de-addiction, literature review of our several research. Several such partnerships were already existing, and we look forward to expanding on that and engage with the students, provide them with an opportunity, and allow them to work here in the field.

It is to be noted that, SEARCH works with marginalized communities – rural, tribal, women and children – to identify their health needs and develop community empowering models of healthcare to address those. SEARCH works in the Gadchiroli in Maharashtra.