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A head and shoulders photo of IHTM alumnus Francisco Obando (IHTM 2018)

Francisco Obando (IHTM 2018)

Consultant - Strengthening Capacities for Urban Health,
World Health Organization

Francisco was born in Quito, Ecuador, and grew up in Canada before returning to Quito to work. His career began in urban planning and has evolved to focus on urban health in resource-limited contexts.

Before IHTM, Francisco worked for the municipality of Quito leading a healthy neighbourhoods programme to improve inequities by empowering communities to take control of local conditions.

Francisco is currently working to develop the WHO's global capacity strengthening programme for urban health. It involves a capacities self-assessment tool and a blended learning training course being piloted in eight cities spanning five continents. Francisco is also co-chair of the Expert Advisory Council of the International Society of Urban Health and can be found delivering training to city practitioners on social participation in health.  

Francisco wanted to further his knowledge of urban health in resource-limited contexts and to gain more formal training in this area. He was attracted by IHTM’s focus on the global south, and LMICs, and he felt the content of the MSc would facilitate the direction he wanted his career to take. Francisco was awarded a Weidenfeld Hoffmann Scholarship and the associated leadership programme complemented his experience.

The ability to understand and interpret research evidence from a range of disciplines has been the most useful takeaway from IHTM. Translating and understanding evidence from disciplines such as anthropology, health and economics and how these influence different sectoral approaches to determine policy is fundamental to urban health. As part of IHTM, preparing policy briefs for presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, at the Houses of Parliament gave a really good insight into assessing research evidence from a range of sources.

Francisco also gained much from his IHTM placement and dissertation drawing on the experience of a medical anthropologist and supported by a statistician. The research placement was based at the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in Delhi and used datasets to correlate incidences of malaria to urban amenities and services.

The last Word
One of the most interesting and useful aspects of IHTM was spending time with people from varied professions and cultures and understanding that individual stakeholders will have widely varying approaches to a problem.