In late June the Incubator welcomed Abdul Tawab Saljuqi, MD, MPH, for a week-long faculty immersion residency. A physician with expertise in health communications and health systems management, Dr. Saljuqi served as IEC coordinator, health promotion director, and advisor to the Ministry of Health in Afghanistan during the country’s health system reforms between 2005 and 2015. He led efforts to introduce evidence-based research that improved the nation’s public health and health promotion practices, focusing on maternal child health, public nutrition, infectious diseases, and immunization in hard-to-reach areas. Dr. Saljuqi, a 2009-10 Fulbright Scholar, is currently completing a DrPH in public health policy and management at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH), University of Arizona.
An experienced health journalist also trained in qualitative research design, Dr. Saljuqi’s close collaboration with Faculty Director Sue J. Goldie began years ago, during his tenure as the founding editor of the Afghanistan Journal of Public Health. To learn more, see Goldie SJ. Celebrating Milestones, Looking to the Future, Saljuqi T. Promoting the Culture of Research and Publishing, and Horton R. Offline: The Real Meaning of Innovation.
A quiet optimist, Sherlock Holmes fan, and poet, Dr. Saljuqi used his immersion week to share his ongoing work and explore new ideas with faculty and staff at the Incubator and across the University. His residency, coordinated by GHELI’s Terry Aladjem and Anshul Kumar, got off to a quick start with a mixture of group collaboration and self-directed reflective work—from engaging in storyboarding workshops, to crafting a visual framework to ground his current research on the Afghanistan public health system, to filming a narrative about health care delivery in conflict settings based on his personal experience in Afghanistan.
Later in the week Dr. Saljuqi brainstormed with Chantelle Boudreaux about health systems and health promotion in Afghanistan, worked with Incubator staff on several multimedia and communications efforts, toured the Harvard campus, and dialogued with an evening off-campus interdisciplinary discussion group on South Asia. In a recorded audio interview with GHELI’s Senior Writer Susan Holman, he shared key lessons learned during his experiences working for health in what has been called by some “the worst country in the world to live in.” Reflecting on the cycle of policy change in any country, he observed that “it is not just pure data that can inform a policy. It is the whole spectrum of factors from politics, sociocultural issues, security, economy, and everything.”
His residency culminated on his final day with an informal interview in the Incubator studio with Dr. Eve Wittenberg, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Health Decision Science (CHDS) and Scholar in Residence at GHELI. Dr. Saljuqi talked about the role of health systems in Afghanistan and gave examples of success stories as well as insights on the importance of new innovative strategies.
“I had an ambitious plan for this short visit,” concluded Dr. Saljuqi at the end of the week, “and with the help of the Incubator and Dr. Sue J. Goldie, what I accomplished exceeded my expectations.” Over the next year, Dr. Saljuqi looks forward to collaborating with GHELI to pilot multimedia teaching modules in public health and decision-making with experienced public health managers in Afghanistan. This initiative will be coupled with an effort to develop a country-specific information portal through the GHELI educational repository, improving access to public health resources for policy makers, educators and researchers. The idea, first conceived while collaborating with Dr. Goldie on Global Health 2035: The Afghanistan Context, may finally come to fruition!