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IHTM student Parinda Wattanasri

Parinda Wattanasri (IHTM 2019)

Medical Doctor, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand
Deputy Director of the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Thailand
Director of Travel Medicine Residency Programme, Thailand

Parinda specialises in travel medicine. Amongst her many roles she teaches at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Department of Disease Control in Bangkok, lecturing to doctors in travel medicine. Parinda is also the principal investigator for a project for the development of a smart vaccination certificate and record system in Thailand. She was instrumental in the development of the Thai COVID-19 digital vaccine passport which has now been extended to include other vaccines including yellow fever, influenza, and meningococcal.

Before IHTM, Parinda was at the Institute of Preventative Medicine where she studied travel medicine.

As part of her training, Parinda was required to undertake a master’s and the course content of IHTM was relevant to travel medicine and disease prevention. She was also keen to further her global network of contacts. IHTM offered the opportunity to meet people from other continents, to work with other nationalities and to learn about different cultures and how they manage disease. Parinda also wanted to promote her experience at the Department of Disease Control and she was looking to improve her leadership, communications and negotiation skills.

Parinda has fully integrated the skills she took from IHTM into her work. After graduating from the MSc, she returned to Bangkok amid the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately began to apply what she had learnt, particularly field epidemiology. She supervised the joint investigation team working under the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, MoPH, during the pandemic.

The MoPH nominated Parinda as the focal point for the international vaccination certificate mutual recognition via bilateral or multilateral agreements and as the Thai representative of the WHO Smart Vaccination Certificate working group to safely reconnect to the world with a vaccine passport.  Parinda employed her newly honed debating skills when applying for funding from the Thailand MoPH - US CDC Collaboration Coordinating Unit for the digital vaccine passport project. During the pandemic she was also responsible for ensuring the safety of important visitors who were allowed to enter Thailand, including a visit from President of Switzerland.

As part of the MSc, Parinda studied mathematical modelling during her research placement and for her dissertation. Following her return to Thailand she used this experience to provide recommendations to the national committee for contact tracing during the pandemic. In addition, she subsequently became a co-supervisor on a mathematical modelling placement project for an IHTM student to further pass on her experience.

Parinda currently oversees the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, project to help facilitate faster and more effective verification of health documents required for cross-border travel, so that COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued by APEC economies can be easily verified across the regions.

She says,

“IHTM taught me how to talk to international colleagues and to appreciate a problem from their perspective. It’s important to understand that people have their own point of view and challenges, which may differ from mine.”

The last word

“IHTM gave me the skills to approach work efficiently and this has enabled me to take on more and make the most of my time. I also share what I learnt from IHTM with my students, so that the course has a ripple effect, it really is impacting international health.”