While the global community stands at the key epoch marked by the 21st century entering perhaps the most defining decade witnessing marked transitions across social, economic and political dimensions, public health and health policy assumes increasingly greater significance in its mandate to ensure good health for all. The need for building a critical mass of evidence and knowledge cutting across different dimensions of global public health is greatly felt across policy-circles worldwide; equal is the need to build the required capabilities to scientifically generate and distil information on health of the populations, that could be appropriately fed into deriving responsive policies and interventions that can accelerate the strive towards better health outcomes, ensuring equity and quality. At the same time, there is increased recognition of the need to germinate a fresh, contextually-driven but globally buttressed approach towards studying key issues of public health, that is sensitive to local priorities but can be seamlessly mapped to the global policy discourse on health.

With such a paradigm as the underpinning, the need for a new institute to train and equip a dynamic cadre of public health professionals was recognised in West Bengal, in the eastern part of India – a region marked by a crucial dearth of such a catalysing platform. Health care and human development indices in West Bengal are fairly encouraging, but have significant scope and opportunities for further improvement. Apart from common issues of consideration for health system strengthening in West Bengal, there are several typical regions of the state that are in urgent need for focussed activities in health care and human development. Those have been targeted in the State planning and include the Sundarbans Delta, the JangalMahals and the hill areas of North Bengal. Health issues, as part of a broader development agenda, can do a lot to improve the circumstances prevailing in these regions. A group of public health professionals conversant and focussed to the health issues of these “high in need” regions could contribute significantly to the developments in health sector that the State is pursuing. This felt need have led to a spurt of investing ideas and energies by key decision-makers with the state government’s Department of Health in order to establish the Institute of Public Health – witnessing a vibrant ideating phase and setting in place the basic nuts and bolts the Institute is now poised to embark its journey from February, 2016. The Institute is set up in the township of Kalyani about 50 kms from Kolkata the state capital, thereby lending its name to the Institute – The Institute of Public Health, Kalyani (IPHK)

Below, the key milestones in the journey so far is mapped, starting with the basic pillars of the Institute’s genesis – the objectives, mission and vision it seeks to accomplish.

Vision & Mission of the Institute             

Orientation, Approaches and Vision of the Proposition – Components of Synergistic Action

*      The concept and vision stimulating the idea of the proposed Institute is rooted in a fresh, realistic approach towards public health and health policy, distinct from the typical textbook-dominated, modular learnings and pedagogies popularized mostly by developed, high-income country institutes.         

*      The key focal areas of the proposed Institute – in education, researchand policy formulations will be

  • Regionally relevant- Public Health needs of vulnerable, marginalized communities of the region including hard-to-reach populations in the State. This will mainly cover the Darjeeling hills and tea-garden areas , the JangalMahals , and the Sundarbans delta region.
  •  Impacting health systems- Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) through equitable, cost-effective policy solutions following empirical research on major policy issues.
  •  Prioritizing and Mainstreaming Approaches and Policy Options to tackle Health Inequalities , combining technical knowhow on measurement and analytics, and evidence based orientation of hands-on public health practicums. 
  •  Robust Methods of learning and analysis - A close harmonization of theoretical training on state-of-the-art principles and their applications, and mixed-method research approaches, with a strong multidisciplinary focus . The research component, in particular, will leverage the unique advantage of participatory learning made possible through the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSSI under the Birbhum Population Project (BIRPOP) 
  • Traditional Public health with the emerging tools and ideas – The Institute will try to benefit from the utilisation of more basic Epidemiological, statistical and biological knowledge in Public health discourses through emerging tools, techniques and methods, including those coming from the IT and Genomics. 
  •  Building public health capacity , by promoting healthier public policy through approaches that include Health Impact Assessments, strengthening public health intelligence and program evaluation.