My professional journey began in the suburbs of north India when I freelanced for the British Council. Since then, I have been part of several global organisations across different countries working in various public health programs and supply chains, all with one aim – improving access to essential medicines. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work on two critical areas that form the backbone of society – Education and Health. I believe right education and good health are the keys that unlock social and economic prosperity. Unfortunately, all along my journey, I saw disparities everywhere. I saw people longing for better educational opportunities and healthier lives.
According to experts and international organizations, health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia are the weakest worldwide. This results in massive aid and investment pouring in from donors all over the world. I believe that this weakness of the public health system stems from inequality in education (among several others). The key to high-performing systems is the people behind them. Any system works best when it is managed by competent professionals. That leads us to the question, are education systems in these countries designed to produce brilliant health workers and professionals, let alone a continuous supply of them? The answer is probably no and I think this is one area which has been consistently neglected by most agencies providing aid and strengthening the health systems.
It would be an oversight to overlook the gap between the out of date curricula currently in use and the skills required to manage high-functioning health systems
Over the past ten years in this industry, I have found numerous health professionals continually seeking learning opportunities. They feel left behind that their higher education failed to equip them with adequate tools to keep up with the challenges of the evolving sector. This in turn impacts their effectiveness at work and their personal growth. Only a small number of these professionals get access to such learning opportunities because of the inequitable structure of higher learning systems. In addition, the personal development of those few who made it work doesn’t really impact the wider organisational effectiveness. Wherever I went, I heard similar stories and saw related challenges, which brings me back to the same question:
Are current learning strategies enough to make a considerable impact? How do you design learning & development in public health to bring about positive change in health systems?
Fast forward to 2020, the biggest pandemic of our lifetime has pushed global health systems to a breaking point where we can no longer underestimate the importance of a skilled health workforce. The pandemic helped me reflect on my journey, giving me new purpose to reduce the gaps in public health education and bring together health professionals from different countries and backgrounds. The concept of Bee Skilled thus came to life, inspired by the cooperative principles of ‘Eusociality’. We need collective effort to create sustainable change in our health systems and our lives. As the saying goes, “Together, we go far”.
At Bee Skilled, we envision a community of competent health professionals leading sustainable change in their own environments and making health systems responsive and resilient. We look forward to the day when health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia are finally independent and led by their own people, with limited assistance from external agencies. Bee Skilled is geared towards the metamorphosis of that vision into reality.