IPH Annual Day 2019

IPH Annual Day 2019

On August 30th 2019 IPH celebrated its annual day marking the completion of 14 years in the field of public health. The day began with presentations from the four research clusters sharing of learning and reflections by teams. It was an opportunity for new staff, interns and Fulbright fellows to be acquainted with the range of research, education and public and policy engagement activities at IPH, and an opportunity for all present to take stock of the progress made by IPH this year. The education team took IPH down memory lane with lively anecdotes and stories from how the eLearning team started with 1 – 2 people and has now grown to cater to national and international audiences. Dr. Sarin and Dr. Prashanth NS designed and facilitated a public health quiz, encouraging participants to rack their brain cells and use their crystallised and fluid intelligence to answer riddles and questions about pioneers in the field of public health and key events and decisions that have shaped the field of public health.

Public health enthusiasts, former colleagues and well-wishers joined us for the public
event – “IPH Annual Day oration series” organized in the evening. The event started
off with a short message from Dr. Devadasan,
Founder of IPH, to welcome everyone and reflect on the growth and progress of
IPH. His address was followed by a testimonial video of partners, collaborators
and well-wishers of IPH instilling inspiration in the staff and appreciating the
partnership with IPH.

The speaker for the IPH Annual Day oration series was Dr.
Ravi Narayan
, with a lecture titled “Can floor moppers become tap turners off? – reflections
on a new Public Health Paradigm!’ Dr. Ravi Narayan has been a
long-term mentor for individuals at IPH and an inspiration for all those in the
field of public health. Over a one-hour lecture, Dr. Narayan elegantly took the
audience through his personal journey into the field of health and described
how the field has changed over the years. He brought attention to a few grassroots
public health movements and initiatives in India that were radical and path
breaking. Dr. Narayan encouraged the audience to move beyond thinking solely
about primary health care and think carefully about resource limitations, work
with local knowledge and think creatively at problem solving. He reminded the
audience that the determinants of health are vast: physical, social, mental,
economic, political; and thus it is important for doctors and public health
professionals to change their focus and consider ways to turn the tap off.

The day ended with a music performance by an extremely talented young artist, Samarth
R. Samarth is a young Carnatic singer and his strong voice echoed through the
auditorium, briefly making the audience forget the time. The director of IPH, Dr. Upendra Bhojani
closed the annual day with a vote of thanks, thanking everyone for their
enthusiastic participation and making the time to be part of our celebration. The
day ended with refreshments, chatter and renewed energy to carry forward until
the next annual day.

Tobacco Control |JIPMER 2019

Tobacco Control |JIPMER 2019

The 5th National Workshop on Tobacco Control, held in JIPMER from 26th August to 30th August 2019, was attended by IPH researchers, Riddhi Dsouza,  Vivek Dsouza, and Adhip Amin. Three major themes were addressed in the Workshop. First, the history and politics of WHO’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) where India is a signatory. The architecture, implementation, and consequences on tobacco consumption, of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) — and the relationship between the FCTC and COTPA. Second, the basic principles of epidemiology in relation to tobacco use was covered. Furthermore on quantitative analysis, the second round of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), in the context of India, was discussed. Third, the behavioral and psychological component of tobacco addiction — and strategies for tobacco cessation — was also reviewed. 


The director at IPH, Dr. Upendra Bhojani, delivered a lecture on the endgame strategies for tobacco control; what are the levers, mechanisms, and ideas, that can enable policy and law to generate a tobacco free generation. The point was also made that values are important in tobacco policy — how one approaches tobacco control will differ regarding a person’s moral and political philosophy — which we must acknowledge and respect.

Participants of the workshop

Planned transition of leadership

Planned transition of leadership

After completing a little over 13 years our founding Director Dr. N Devadasan has moved on from IPH. The conversation of transition had begun at IPH much in advance of this event as Deva also had a strong resolve that he did not want IPH to be known only by him and hence systematically groomed the next line of leadership over the past few years. The journey of Deva and Roopa is a fascinating one and a blog does capture some of the initial years of his contribution to public health. Their story from CMC Vellore to Gudalur to Delhi and then to Bangalore to create IPH is one of great resolve and extremely inspiring to say the least. IPH since its inception has served as a platform for young enthusiastic public health professionals to contribute to strengthening Indian health systems and striving to make an equitable change in the society by empowering the people through high quality research, skill-based education and policy engagement. 

Over the past few years IPH experimented a shared and distributive form of leadership which has took form of a management committee. The shared leadership has successfully worked in building individual and institutional capacities. This platform and legacy are all set to continue and grow under the able leadership of Dr. Upendra Bhojani who has been appointed by the governing board of IPH as the new Director from July 1st, 2019. Upendra is a public health researcher with vast experience in public health research especially in the domain of chronic conditions and public policies and also in management and leadership. In a small event at the institute the staff and associates of IPH thanked and acknowledged the immense contribution of Deva and Roopa to IPH and the field of public health and for making it what it is today and welcomed Upendra to his new role as the Director of IPH. As Deva and the board members echoed they are extremely happy to hand over IPH to very safe hands and look forward to Upendra and the committed team to take IPH to greater heights.

SARC-CCT in Sri Lanka

SARC-CCT in Sri Lanka

Panelists Dr. Mary Assunta & Dr. Upendra Bhojani.
Image credit: SARC-CCT

The University of Colombo works systematically on tobacco control and was established as a tobacco observatory Sri Lanka in 2016. Recently, this observatory was expanded to the South Asia region to create the South Asian Regional Consortium Centre for Combating Tobacco (SARC-CCT). 

The centre organized an inaugural workshop, inviting researchers and advocates for the launch of the SARC-CCT on 15-18th July 2019, in Colombo. On invitation, the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru (IPH) was represented & actively participated in the workshop.

Dr. Upendra Bhojani, representing IPH, also had the opportunity to serve as a panelist. Along with his panel members, Dr. Pranay Lal, Senior Technical Advisor, The Union, Delhi and Dr. Mary Assunta, Head of Global Research and Advocacy, Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, Thailand, Upendra contributed to a blog post that summarize common tobacco control challenges. The blog post is linked here.

The South Asian region has some shared history and common challenges of tobacco control and also offers some unique positive examples (Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India among others) to the world. This event was a key gathering of experts, which highlighted the unique insights that SAARC nations can offer in terms of tobacco control and the importance of close collaboration with other countries in the region.

Policy Roundtable: Urban Health Governance in India

Policy Roundtable: Urban Health Governance in India

Image credit: Observer Research Foundation

Dr. Upendra Bhojani, India Alliance Fellow and Director at IPH, was invited to participate in a Roundtable discussion hosted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and World Health Organization, India in Delhi on the 26th July 2019. The roundtable discussion was attended by subject experts, bureaucrats and researchers from Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Delhi.

While urbanization offers opportunities for growth and development, it poses unique challenges for health and health governance. Acknowledging health as a key component of urban planning and governance by policymakers is an important step to visualize and translate sustainable urban development into action. Themes that were broadly discussed over the course of the day include:

  • The need to strengthen and rationalise existing urban primary health structures in the context of Ayushman Bharat.
  • The need for strong financial governance to help minimise underutilisation of funds.
  • Lack of effective Monitoring, Surveillance and Accountability systems among diverse stakeholders.

The full report of the event is accessible here.

Video on “Tobacco-Free Generation”

Video on “Tobacco-Free Generation”

“Tobacco-free generation” is a proposal wherein children born after a certain year grow up in tobacco free environments, with legislation in place restricting exposure, sale and use of tobacco for that generation. This is potentially a very powerful intervention, that is progressive and strategic in achieving tobacco control. It has been proposed and implemented to various extents in a few countries, including Tasmania and Netherlands. As a strategy it is feasible as it is aimed at overcoming defects with current youth access laws.

Dr. Upendra Bhojani, India Alliance Fellow and Director at IPH, published a video as a part of a 2-day National Consultation by Generation Saviour Association (GSA), The Union and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh on date that explains his views on this topic. He explains the issue and argues for its social, economic and national importance, while shedding light on the ethical issues that can arise in the context of such interventions.

The video has been uploaded to YouTube and is available for viewing here:

routine dental practice

routine dental practice

The MPOWER package is a package introduced by WHO, comprising of six measures to assist in country-level implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. One of the six components of the MPOWER package is “Offer help to quit tobacco use.”

Often, tobacco users are aware of the risks, but require support to overcome addiction or dependence on the substance. It is recommended that support for tobacco cessation should also lie with health-systems, where programs for tobacco cessation should be incorporated and embedded into primary health care services, with health care providers acting as advocates for tobacco control.

Dr. Upendra Bhojani serves as a guide for Rachana Shah (Government Dental College and Hospital, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India) on her work on how to integrate tobacco cessation support with the help of health professionals as a part of routine primary care. This project shifts the focus from tobacco cessation centres to healthcare providers as playing an important role in delivering such services.

Previous work by this research team showed that Dentists are generally willing, though very few display this in clinical practice, in an article titled Dentists and tobacco cessation: Moving beyond willingness.

Rachana Shah’s doctoral proposal examines the role of oral health professionals (OHP) and the experiences and expectations of dental patients in the context of tobacco cessation (TC) services. The protocol of her doctoral study titled “Integrating tobacco cessation into routine dental practice: protocol for a qualitative study” was recently published in BMJ Open, linked here.

India Alliance Fellows Meet 2019

India Alliance Fellows Meet 2019

IPH Faculty and Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance research fellows Upendra Bhojani and Pragati Hebbar attended the 9th Annual Fellows’ Meet in Bengaluru from June 13 – 15th 2019. The annual fellows meet serves as a platform to bring together India Alliance Fellows and other grant recipients from prestigious research institutes together to foster collaboration, support and exchange of ideas across a wide range of research areas.

Both Pragati and Upendra presented their work during the first year of their fellowships through scientific poster sessions. Upendra Bhojani was invited to present his work and research supported by India Alliance during this meet. Upendra gave a talk titled “Commercial Determinants of health: the political economy of tobacco in India”, available for viewinghere.

Given the present focus on and the growing concern of the role of corporations in promoting products and choices that are mass produced and are in general detrimental to health, Upendra’s talk was relevant and well-received.

At the Fellows meet, new committee members were introduced. Wellcome Trust and DBT India Alliance also launched new grant opportunities such as the Team Science Grants and grants to establish virtual Clinical/Public Health Research Centres, in order to provide a platform for collaborating and strengthening important research initiatives in India.

Poster presentation at GCIS, Dhaka

Poster presentation at GCIS, Dhaka

Dr. Pragati Hebbar presenting her research poster at GCIS, Dhaka


Centre of Excellence for Science of Implementation and Scale-up (CoE-SISU), BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University and UNICEF Bangladesh hosted a Global Conference on Implementation Science and Scale-Up at Dhaka from 29th June 2019 to 01st July 2019.

The conference aimed to showcase the role of Implementation Science in promoting a culture of evidence-based health and other social development programmes, policies, and practices. It was an excellent attempt to bridge the gap between research and policy making. 

Dr. Pragati Hebbar, PhD scholar and Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Fellow from the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru participated and presented a poster on ‘Anusthana’ – implementation research for scaling up tobacco control policy interventions.

The GCIS was a very good platform to network with like-minded researchers and engaging policymakers to listen to the success stories through the use of Implementation Sciences to influence programme, policy, and practice. 

World No Tobacco Day 2019

World No Tobacco Day 2019

Dr. Upendra Bhojani was invited to participate in a National Consultation on Tobacco and Lung Health organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in New Delhi on 31st May 2019 to observe the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The annual World No Tobacco Day is organised by the WHO for advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control. The theme for 2019, “Tobacco and Lung Health” focuses on “the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.”
During the award ceremony, prizes were awarded to acknowledge the work of individuals and organizations in their exceptional efforts toward promoting tobacco control in India. Additionally, scientific documents titled

were released during the event, providing an overview of tobacco use and providing multi-pronged recommendations to reduce the burden of tobacco attributable lung diseases in India. An official website dedicated to the National Tobacco Control Program was also launched during the same day.