Q&A with Rashida-E Ijdi, MPH, Doctoral Student at the Department of Maternal and Child Health
We at Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Rashida Ijdi about her extensive professional background in Bangladesh, her work on projects with Data for Impact (D4I) and RTI International, and what global health means to her.
Will you tell us about your MPH program at Gillings?
I thoroughly enjoyed the two years of my MPH program at UNC. I was born and breath in Bangladesh, a developing country in the southeast of Asia. Pursuing my MPH at UNC helped me to introduce innovative research skills and high-level academic training to acquire effective research skills in understanding global health context. I came to know the same global health problems from the perspective of the developed world. This helped me to critically compare the understanding of the same health issues from two different perspectives; developing and developed countries.
Will you tell us about your experiences since graduating and/or your current role?
After completing my MPH, I worked on three major short-term activities before I started my doctoral program. With Data for Impact (D4I), I worked on finalizing the performance monitoring plan (PMP) of the current sector-wide program of Bangladesh. Then I was involved in the data analysis of an impact evaluation project in Nigeria in collaboration with UNC and RTI International. Lastly, with the University of Florida I worked in a bar outreach project which was my first working experience on US context. Graduating from Gillings has made me more confident and eligible to apply the tools and skills I learnt and carried from this institution.
Will you tell us more about your extensive public health experience in Bangladesh?
Having obtained master’s degrees in applied Statistics, I worked in a non-government organization in Bangladesh and two international organizations; the United Nations Development Program and Plan Bangladesh. My primary job responsibilities included econometric analysis of financial data and coordinating project activities. While working in financial monitoring, I developed an interest in health information systems and contributing to more effective health interventions and policies to improve the lives of women and children in developing countries.
For more than one decade, I have honed my public health research, analytic, and management skills working on a variety of health systems strengthening and research projects mostly in Bangladesh. In 2011, I was selected as a Research Fellow to the MEASURE Evaluation project of UNC’s Carolina Population Center in their field operations in Bangladesh. I was involved in rigorous evaluation of USAID’s health programs; improving country-level capacity to manage health information systems; and designing & conducting large-scale population-based health surveys in Bangladesh. As a core member of the Technical Assistance Support Team (TAST) of MEval to the Ministry of Health, I assisted to monitor and evaluate Bangladesh’s national health sector program. I led the preparation of Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP) for the consecutive two sector-wide programs. I also have achieved hands-on experiences in developing survey methodology, questionnaire design, data analysis and report writing of two national level surveys – Urban Health Survey and Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey – and baseline and impact evaluation surveys of USAID-funded projects on reproductive health, nutrition, and social marketing services.
What advice do you have for current/prospective students interested in global health?
Global health is the most important and emerging area of study which people could always find interesting. We are in the era of globalization, when ‘global health’ makes sense now more than ever. Covid has taught us very good lessons that very simple instructions like washing hands and using face masks could save the lives of people around the world. For the current students, I would advise learning as much as possible on how to analyze to understand health data to have a holistic overview of the topic. Try to be involved in collaborative research, and studies with UNC faculty. For future students, select UNC-CH as your first choice while applying because it could make you a well-rounded person, with learning skills, networking opportunities, faculty support, an excellent learning environment, and ‘pride’ to be a Gillings alumnus.
What does “global health” mean to you?
In plain words, global health means knowing about major health problems around the world, and their etiology to make them preventable.
What is your favorite type of music and why?
I like to listen to contemporary popular songs. Because I do often share the choice of music with my two sons. I also have a long list of favorite music in Bangla – my first language.