Ainura Moldokmatova and Aibek Mukambetov
Ainura Moldokmatova (IHTM 2018) and Aibek Mukambetov (IHTM 2021)
Ainura: DPhil student, NDM, Oxford; Aibek: Public Health Program Director, Soros Foundation- Kyrgyzstan
Ainura and Aibek reflect on how IHTM has influenced their work in Kyrgyzstan,
“During our studies at IHTM we learnt new techniques and methods in research, including economic and mathematical modelling, statistics, qualitative methods, policy and health system research, evaluation and many other tools. We also received a broad knowledge of global health issues from a complex and multifactor perspective.
In addition to academic study, we improved our leadership and effective communication skills through training, debates, PBLs and presentations. We had a unique opportunity to learn from the best academics from around the world and build networks with research groups and institutions, which we utilised in our work in Kyrgyzstan.
Following IHTM, all these acquired skills were extremely valuable in our work with national and international partners.”
Proochista Ariana, IHTM Course Director, adds,
“Our graduates take what they learn through IHTM and use it to advance capacity in their post-IHTM working contexts. They draw on connections they gained with faculty on the course to extend partnerships that will continue to grow in a region where such partnerships were historically very limited.”
Impact story from Ainura and Aibek – A Research Consortium in Kyrgyzstan
During the COVID-19 pandemic Ainura and Aibek worked with colleagues from Kyrgyzstan to establish a national research group to help the Kyrgyz government develop informed COVID-19 related strategies. The research group conducted mathematical modelling of the impact of pharmaceutical (vaccination) and non-pharmaceutical interventions on the course of the pandemic and the national health system. The group gathered together representatives of state (the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health, MoH), international research organisations (Soros Foundation, USAID mission in Kyrgyz Republic) and local research organisations and agencies and joined the International COVID-19 modelling (CoMo) Consortium.
With the technical support of the CoMo Consortium, the team conducted two phases of modelling, which included lockdown release scenarios (April 2020) and vaccination strategies (August 2021), and presented the findings to the MoH, the COVID-19 National Emergency Unit in Kyrgyzstan and the Cabinet of Vice-Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic. They also shared the policy document with policy makers and stakeholders and published articles in peer reviewed journals in Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation.
In addition, the group shared their projections with a broader audience through the media (TV and radio broadcasting, press conferences) with the purpose of raising the awareness of important behavioural interventions (social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing etc) in reducing the risk of COVID transmission.
The mathematical modelling was a novel tool in public health in Kyrgyzstan and it generated interest in applying this approach to informing other health policy decisions in the country. The MoH has requested that the team conducts projections and cost-effectiveness analysis of vaccination strategies for the newly introduced national HPV vaccination program. To do this, the team, together with Mahidol University (Thailand) jointly applied for a research grant for an Asian regional HPV modelling project.
The research group has a long-term ambition to establish a Central Asian or National Research Hub, and has taken the first step by initiating the research and academic collaboration between the University of Oxford, Mahidol University and the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy. In 2022, the team invited professors from Oxford and Mahidol Universities and organised meetings and open lectures with the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy.
It has been agreed that Oxford and Mahidol Universities will provide academic support by providing online lectures to Kyrgyz students and they will assist the group with the HPV modelling project.
Ainura and Aibek were the recipients of a Johnson and Johnson scholarship to fund the MSc IHTM.