Giri Rajahram (IHTM 2021)
Head of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Sabah, Ministry of Health Malaysia
Consultant in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine
Clinician-Scientist-Researcher and Global Health Practitioner
Honorary Clinical Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research, Australia
Giri grew up in Kuala Lumpur and trained as a junior doctor in Sabah, Borneo. As a clinician in Sabah, he cares for diverse people, including indigenous and marginalised communities. Many of the communities are disadvantaged through social inequalities and are adversely affected by social determinants of health and climate change, resulting in poorer health outcomes.
Giri recognised the need to improve the local clinical evidence base and understanding of the epidemiology of infectious diseases in the community he served. This knowledge was critical to enhancing and informing local and regional health policies. He researched courses that would give him the skills to effect positive change and transition from a clinician to a researcher and public health policy advocate. IHTM was an ideal fit.
Giri’s IHTM research placement was working with colleagues at the Ministry of Health, MoH, in Seychelles, examining the immunogenicity of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents in Seychelles. The findings of this research complemented the COVID-19 vaccine policy of the Seychelles MoH.
Having completed IHTM, Giri returned to Sabah, where he has conducted and advocated clinical research, enabling policymakers to provide evidence-based public health policies and guidance. He has been awarded the prestigious United States National Institutes of Health, NIH, R01 research grant as a Principal Investigator (PI) to study Emerging zoonotic malaria in Malaysia: strengthening surveillance and evaluating population genetic structure to improve regional risk prediction tools. He is also section co-editor of the upcoming third edition of the International Encyclopedia of Public Health with Professor David Heymann.
Giri says that his approach to health problems has changed as a result of studying IHTM. It has enabled him to consider and incorporate broader health determinants into any health or health system solution. He also constantly encourages critique and appraisal of the evidence before adopting any health or system intervention as policy.
The stakeholder, leadership and communications skills training of IHTM has been particularly useful, as has the inter and multidisciplinary research elements that Giri uses day to day as a clinician, researcher and health policy advocate. He has used his skills to navigate the different stakeholders involved in his clinical research and to communicate the research findings to diverse audiences, from the public to expert academic panels.
The last word
“IHTM equips you with the skills needed, and leverages a global community of peers and mentors that inspire, enabling you to flourish as the next generation of global health leaders.
It has given me the tools to advocate for the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the communities that I serve. Studying at Oxford was a privilege, and I always strive to pay it forward.”