Bachelor of Public Health:A different medical degree

2014-04-05

Ekantipur

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Unlike a conventional medical degree which mainly looks for a cure for persons suffering from diseases, the concern has now shifted to health workers who look into preventive measures before a person catches those diseases. The Bachelor in Public Health (BPH)  is a professional degree which helps students to work among community people for their promising lives.

BPH is an undergraduate degree in health science which prepares students to pursue a career in community health. It helps to enhance the vocational competence of public health professionals through advanced education in health strategies, health promotion and health programming. It equips graduates with the capabilities of formulating health strategies and health planning for the people. In addition, it also covers environmental health, health administration, epidemiology, nutrition, biostatics or health policy and planning.

Apart from Tribhuvan University which started offering BPH from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) more than two decades ago, Pokhara University  and Purbanchal University are among those offering the degree. 

“Among different practices, prevention, promotion and rehabilitation are among the essential areas of public health science,” said Ramesh Bhatta, principal of Yeti Health Science Academy (YHSA) . Prevention helps in keeping oneself away from different kinds of diseases which also includes inoculation. Promotion includes leading a healthy life through maintaining sanitation and healthy habits. Rehabilitation includes enhancing the life of physically impaired people by helping them in their health practices. Bhatta added that it was a comprehensive programme which also involves public awareness in sanitation.

YHSA is affiliated with Purbanchal University and has been offering a three-year BPH degree for the last two years. Little Buddha College (LBC),  Hope International College , Om Health Campus , Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Science  and Karnali College of Health Science are among the institutes offering the degree.

Kedar Ji Kandel, managing director of LBC, said BPH graduates overlooked community health at the practical ground. The job of BPH graduates is to make community people aware about maintaining sanitation at the community level which includes personal and environmental cleanliness. According to Kandel, the curriculum of BPH has been designed as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Similarly, Nobel College of Medical Science (NCMS) and National Open College  are the institutes affiliated with Pokhara University which are offering the degree. Ram Chandra Sinha, department head of Public Health at NCMS, said BPH was a comprehensive package of different disciplines including microbiology, pharmacology and toxicology, anatomy and physiology, biostatics, medical sociology, reproductive health and public health. Graduates also have to work in the field with the community people who are at high risk of epidemiology problems.

BPH graduates are in high demand in government offices while they can also work in different non-government organizations, international non-government organizations and UN agencies. They can also work as researchers in pathology laboratories, environment-related offices and municipalities. Factories producing edibles and water supplying companies also hire the graduates. “BPH graduates are in high demand due to growing health consciousness among the people,” said Bhatta of YHSA who also was a professional public health worker in Tilganga Eye Hospital. According to Bhatta, these graduates can make notable contributions in communities mainly in rural areas which have no access to minimum health services.

The IOM and Purbanchal University have been offering a three-year BPH while the degree in Pokhara University is a four-year programme. Students who have passed intermediate level from the biology group in science, staff nurse, diploma in pharmacy or diploma in health assistance can apply for the BPH degree. Graduates can study Master’s level in Public Health which is being offered by the IOM and BP Health Institute of Medical Science.

BPH graduates can earn a minimum of Rs 14,000 a month at government offices while they can make up to Rs 20,000 at the entry level in NGOs and INGOs.

(Source: Kathmandu Post)