PhD in Public Health

Background
At the global level, there is a strong wave of advocacy for practicing evidence based medicine and in that pursuit the academia is striving to produce high level research to generate evidence for improving the population health. For generating a credible body of knowledge and scientific evidence in public health, there is an increasing demand of experts in Public health discipline in the region; especially in the recent context of new infections, pandemics, epidemics, demographic transitions, upsurge of old infections such as tuberculosis and the never ending polio. Moreover, the natural disasters such as earthquake and floods in Pakistan signaled a huge demand for trained and skilled public health workers to manage the large humanitarian programs by the international organizations. The appalling state of maternal and child health indicators and the pace of the country en route to achieve millennium development goals compel to produce a force of public health professionals, researchers and academicians to face the challenges of the 21st century. Ironically, in spite of the poor situation of public health and the transforming health systems within the country and the region, none of the universities in Pakistan offer the doctorate in Public Health. Currently, there is hardly any reputable and recognized programme for doing doctoral studies in Public health in Pakistan. Nonetheless, there is a strong perceived demand from the public health graduates and professionals within the country for such a programme, mainly because of the escalating cost of higher studies abroad. So far a variety of masters programmes in public health within the country, region and internationally have been serving the needs and quest of the public health professionals to acquire managerial and decision making positions in the health system. Health Services Academy has been one of the eminent and leading institutions in the country providing quality education in public health under the auspices of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council, Higher Education Commission and the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. Its standards of education and student led research have been recognized nationally as well as internationally. HSA has strong public health faculty in a variety of Departments and entities that can support the launching of a doctoral programme in public health. Background The main goal of this PhD program is to develop superior level of skilled human resource to develop scientific basis for disease prevention and control, health promotion and well-being of populations, demonstrating an excellence in research, service and academic leadership. The objectives of the PhD in Public health programme will be to develop human resource with research skills and knowledge in public health in the country and region; Program Goal & Objectives The doctoral level of training imparted in public health at HSA will develop a critical mass of experts who will be able to solve practical problems and conduct quality research for finding solutions for common public health problems, reorienting the health systems and brining policy level changes in the health sector of the country and the region.

Program Goal & Objectives
The main goal of this PhD program is to develop superior level of skilled human resource to develop scientific basis for disease prevention and control, health promotion and well-being of populations, demonstrating an excellence in research, service and academic leadership. The objectives of the PhD in Public health programme will be to
  • Develop human resource with research skills and knowledge in public health in the country and region;
  • Produce quality and credible evidence in public health research;
  • Nurture leadership for academic, research and service sectors of public health; 
  • Groom critical mass of public health professionals to take up decision making positions in government and non government sectors to re-orient the health system of the country


The Program Structure
Program design, organization and pedagogy The PhD program will require Course work and Research work leading to submission and defense of thesis and if successful the award of PhD degree.
  1. The course work will be constituted of advanced courses of PhD, spread across two semesters. First semester will comprise mandatory core courses of 10 credits; and the second semester would be of elective courses of 8 credits. A minimum of 18 credits of course work of PhD level is compulsory. Course work of PhD level done at other accredited institutions may also be considered, subject to approval of HSA PhD committee and the QAU.
  2. The courses will be designed on class room teaching and self directed learning. Elective courses will be based on advanced levels in the selected topic and will provide an in-depth student-faculty interaction. Self directed learning courses will be offered with specific faculty as PhD electives.
  3. Learning resources will include libraries (HSA, HEC etc), computer lab, and learning resource centres of QAU. Furthermore, field based work or placements could be based on pilot studies to be conducted during the first two years of program to ultimately develop a formal thesis protocol/synopsis.
  4.  The research work and award of degree will be supervised by a HEC recognized PhD Thesis Supervisor (must have demonstrated research capability through publications, especially being principal author of at least five research papers published in peer reviewed journals) and Co-Supervisors from related areas of expertise. Upon admission to program a Supervisor will be assigned to the enrolled student who will help the student to select the course curriculum and committee members during the year one of admission. The HSA-PhD committee will oversee the proper implementation of the program and monitor the progress in postgraduate courses, the research project and preparation of thesis.
Qualification
  1.  MPhil/MS in any Public health discipline from a PMDC/HEC recognized university.
  2. A college or a university teacher or staff of a research organization holding MA/MSc with proven research ability demonstrated (preferably at least 2 peer reviewed research publications in HEC recognized/Medline Indexed journals) may also be considered for admission to PhD.

Admission criteria and procedures

  1. Selection will be based on Qualification/academic record, Entry test, and Interviews. The assigned weightings would be: Test 40%; Interviews 10%; and Previous academic record 50%.
  2.  A two pager synopsis on the topic that candidate may like to pursue for his/her doctoral thesis. Synopsis must reflect the issue identified, burden of disease, rationale of research, research question & objectives, proposed methodology and population of study, expected outcomes of the research study.
  3. PhD committee at HSA after recommendations will send the final list to QAU for final approval of admissions to PhD.

Program execution- credits, duration

  • Program will be conducted as per HEC/QAU rules & regulations.

  • Supervisor selection criteria will be as per HEC/QAU rules & regulations

PhD level courses

Core courses Semester I

  • Advanced Health Systems Research (4 credits)
  • Public Health Ethics (3 credits) 
  • Public Health Leadership and Systems Thinking (3 credits)

Elective Courses Semester II

  1. Advanced Epidemiology (4 credits)
  2. Health Sector reforms (4 credits)
  3. Strategic planning in health sector of developing countries (4 credits)
  4. International Health (4 credits)
  5. Performance and Quality Management in Hospitals (3 credits)
  6. Applied Econometrics (3 credits)
  7. Applications in Monitoring & Evaluation (3 credits)
  8. Comparative Health Systems and Policy Analysis (2 credits) 
  9.  Applied Nutrition in Public Health (2 credits) 
    Transfer of credits will be permissible from reputable national/international universities at the discretion of PhD committee of HSA, in the light of existing HEC/QAU rules and regulations.

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Years II & III Research work

Grades & Promotion 
Based on comprehensive exam and seminar on research topic as per QAU rules and regulations.
Degree assessment and evaluation
The PhD degree will be awarded by Quaid-e-Azam University fulfilling the following Criteria:
  1. Completion of the 18 credits course work and a comprehensive exam;
  2. Evaluation the doctoral thesis by 3 eminent foreign examiners from Scientifically advanced countries, approved by QAU and HEC.
  3. Viva voce examination by 2 national experts, approved by QAU and HEC.
  4. One research paper accepted/published in HEC recognized/Medline Indexed journal.