School of Rural Public Health and India’s Tata Institute engage in Joint Immersion Program

Tata students visit hospitalDisadvantage communities across the world face many similar issues, from rampant poverty of their residents, to lack of clean water, reliable food sources, and quality health care. From the slums of Mumbia, India to the colonias along the U.S. Texas/Mexico border, the challenges may vary while solutions may be more similar than you think. 

Recently, faculty and students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India participated in an immersion program at the McAllen, Texas campus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. The visitors from the Tata Institute were able to see first hand some of the public health services the Rio Grande Valley offers to address the needs of their underserved communities. 

“The quality of life in the U.S. and how it differs from India is that you place such value on each individual person,” said Dr. Huda Mistry, a student from India participating in the program. “In our country, people are just trying to survive day by day. Here in the U.S., it’s not just about surviving, it’s about raising the quality of life.” 

Last year students from the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health saw first hand the public health needs of the slums of Mumbai while in India. Tata Institute faculty members Harshad Thakur, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Centre for Public Health, and Narendra Kakade, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, served as primary faculty in the “Urban Health in India” course students completed at the institute. 

During Drs. Thakur and Kakade’s recent visit, they also traveled to the College Station campus of the school to meet with faculty and administration and presented on “Public Health Needs of Vulnerable Populations in India.” 

“The Tata Institute student program in McAllen and Drs. Thakur and Kakade’s visit to College Station brought the first cycle of activity between the two institutions full circle,” said Jim Burdine, Dr.P.H., Interim Dean of the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health. “This unique visit allowed the faculty and students from the Tata Institute and our school to explore potential future research collaborations and student training opportunities.” 

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