Krisha Patel - Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Preparing for my upcoming field visit — studying screening criteria and methods, screening policies in India and reading research papers on past oral cancer screening trial strengths and weaknesses

Career goal:

My career goal is to become a cancer epidemiologist and to implement cancer screening programs in resource-limited settings.

Internship outline:

This summer, I interned at the Center for Cancer Epidemiology at Tata Memorial’s Center for Advanced Treatment, Research, and Education in Cancer (ACTREC) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Through this internship, I learned the intricacies of India’s healthcare system, with a focus on cancer prevention, treatment, and control. India is a country that faces diverse cancer burdens due to the vast cultural and lifestyle differences between states. I spent my summer studying the science of implementing appropriate cancer prevention and control programs based off of cancer registry data collected in varyious states. My internship included a field visit to Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra, where I observed the inner workings of an oral cancer screening program. This experience clarified the challenges public health professionals face in creating health interventions in resource-limited settings. After returning from the field, I was trained in biostatistical methods of evaluating cancer registry data to glean whether a screening program is effective in reducing morbidity and mortality in a high-risk population.

Value of experience:

I chose to do public health work in India because it’s my parents’ country of origin. I wanted to learn more about the history of the culture I have grown up in and the health issues that plague the country of my ancestors. Working at Tata Memorial Center was invaluable because I learned about the investment of the Tata Trusts in the betterment of India. It is the best example of a public private partnership success story and I feel grateful to have worked for such a reputable organization.

Best moment/experience:

Visiting a rural maternal and child health daycare center in Ratnagiri district during my field visit was the best moment of my internship. Our team decided to surprise us with the visit and when I walked into a room of bright-eyed smiling children, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. These children were so happy in such a simple place. It proved that happiness does not require many material possessions. Learning about how the Maharashtrian government provides funds to these centers to feed the children of a village was a great example of how active government involvement can improve access to healthcare for rural populations in India.

Funding source:

The Coca Cola World Fund at Yale and the Weinerman Fellowship