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The MSc IHTM is committed to leading positive change in low resource contexts. The aim of the course is to provide students with the skills and opportunities to collaborate across cultural and disciplinary boundaries to identify and develop creative solutions for existing and emerging national, regional and/or global health challenges. A recent example of the impact of the MSc has been an initiative in Seychelles, where a partnership has been established between the MSc IHTM and the Seychelles Ministry of Health (MoH).

A photo of Dr Sylvie Pool (IHTM Alumna), Dr Sanjeev Pugazhendhi (Senior Policy Analyst, MOH), Dr Emelyn Shroff (Director of Research, MOH), Mr Ned Rosalie (Statistician, MOH) with Prof Proochista Ariana (Course Director IHTM)
Visiting trainees from Seychelles MoH with Proochista Ariana. From Right – Dr Sylvie Pool (IHTM Alumna), Dr Sanjeev Pugazhendhi (Senior Policy Analyst, MOH), Dr Emelyn Shroff (Director of Research, MOH), Mr Ned Rosalie (Statistician, MOH) with Prof Proochista Ariana (Course Director IHTM)

The collaboration was instigated by an IHTM alumna, Sylvie Pool (IHTM 2020), alongside colleagues from the Ministry of Health, with the aim of building capacity around research, evidence synthesis and statistics for health policy and evidence-based practice.

Sylvie’s dissertation, which formed part of her MSc IHTM, provided the inspiration to set up this collaboration. The dissertation focussed on estimating excess mortality in Seychelles during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted wider constraints faced by MoH Seychelles in conducting advanced data analysis and health research, locally.

In recognition of the need to address these challenges and in line with its commitment to building capacity through global partnerships, as articulated in its National Health Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 (NHSP 2022-2026), the Seychelles Ministry of Health organised its first national capacity-building workshop in ‘Applied Statistics for Research & Health Policy’, in collaboration with the MSc IHTM course.  

The workshop took place over a period of two months (3rd May - 24th June 2022) and was attended by members of the MoH Statistics Unit, Research Unit and the Department for Health Policy & Planning. This tailor-made workshop was developed with input from local partners, in keeping with the IHTM’s focus on supporting talented professionals to affect positive change in their context. This helped ensure that training needs were defined by local priorities and emphasis placed on the application of methods to real-world challenges of relevance to Seychelles. The success of this approach is evident through the institutionalisation of new skills (e.g. routine use of R programming by local statisticians) and the continued engagement of MoH professionals with training leads and materials post-workshop.  

Presence of visiting academics on-site (in Seychelles) and the subsequent exchange of trainees to Oxford for a further 2-weeks of training also presented a rare and exciting opportunity for further engagement between academics, local government officials and health professionals. Discussions are underway to plan the next set of training around Research Ethics, Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives and Health Management and Financing.

A five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is presently in negotiation. It is hoped that this will serve as a springboard to advance sustainable capacity development in health in Seychelles through closer collaboration and partnership between the Seychelles MoH and MSc IHTM.

Trainees would like to acknowledge the commitment and support of the following training facilitators and partners: Professor Proochista Ariana (IHTM Course Director), Dr Ernest Guevarra (Research Data Scientist and Teaching Fellow in Spatial Epidemiology, IHTM) and Dr Aronrag Meeyai (Senior Medical Statistician and Lecturer for Epidemiology & Statistics, IHTM).

We are also grateful to Dr Agnes Chetty, Director General for Health Policy and Planning, MoH Seychelles, for providing local oversight and support on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Government of Seychelles. 

The workshop was funded and supported by a research and public policy partnership scheme between the University of Oxford and the UK Civil Service Policy Profession through the OPEN Network. 

References

1.        Goransson, O., Vierros, M. & Borrevik, C. Partnerships for Small Island Developing States. (2019).

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