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IHS Mission & Goals:  
Groom Skills,
Gather Evidence and
Generate Knowledge for people's health.

To Improve the Efficacy,
Quality & Equity
of Health Systems.

Prasanta Mahapatra
pmahapat@ihs.org.in

Dr. Prasanta Mahapatra with his unique combination of academic schooling in medicine, public administration, public health policy and economics has been liberally contributing in all the areas of his study. Dr. Mahapatra is a distinguished civil servant, public health scientist, dedicated public health worker, institution builder, and information technology enthusiast. As a civil servant he held various positions in the department of 

health as well as in other departments like rural development, tribal welfare and information technology. His commitment to social justice and rural development was evident early in his career. While working as a Sub collector, he came across the practice of bonded labour still prevalent in Irakam island in the year 1983, i.e. nearly a decade after the bonded labour abolition act was passed. He camped in the island till investigation and trial of all cases under the bonded labour act was completed, release certificates issued and the offenders appropriately dealt under the law. He continued to follow up the released families, despite the administrative changes in his posting, for five years till the released families were fully rehabilitated. He contributed to revival of cooperative farming societies in Nellore district, mainly to benefit large number of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families.
 
He was the first registrar of the first University of Health Sciences (APUHS) in India, Director of Medical Education, Commissioner of Medical Services, Additional Secretary Health in government of Andhra Pradesh. He has tenaciously pursued excellence in each of these positions. Two of his many contributions in the field of health stand out as extraordinary and well beyond the ordinary call of his duties. These are; (a) the health system development projects in the country, and (b) visualization and building of the Institute of Health Systems (IHS).
 
Dr. Mahapatra is a pioneer in the field of Health Systems Development. In the post Alma Ata era, primary health care was erroneously confused with primary health centres and sub centres alone. So much so that any form of health system development involving hospitals was taboo. In this policy environment, he drew attention of policy makers to first referral hospital services, recognized its importance in primary health care and argued for substantial increase of investments in middle level hospitals. While commissioner of Andhra Pradesh Vaidya Vidhana Parishad (APVVP) he developed the Health Systems Development Project in AP. There after he spent two years researching in Harvard University about measurement of public hospital performance and allocation of government health expenditure among primary, secondary and tertiary health care institutions. Results of his research contributed to positive evaluation of the health system development project proposal, by the World Bank. Government of India Ministry of Health circulated the Andhra Pradesh health system development project idea among other state governments for their consideration. Dr. Prasanta Mahapatra’s vision about the need and importance of health systems strengthening during the late 80s and early 90s has today resulted in Health Systems Development projects in about seven states involving combined investments of about 4000 crore rupees. A study on Hospital Autonomy in India, in which the APVVP was taken as a case study, has attributed the success of its establishment to the leadership of Dr. Mahapatra when he was commissioner, APVVP. The strong foundation laid by   Dr. Mahapatra evolved the first referral hospitals in AP to its present stage.
 
Institute of Health Systems (IHS), is primarily the brainchild of Dr. Mahapatra. As early as the 1980s he recognized the importance of health system research to generate required evidence and information for health policy. The Institute was set up in 1990, by him and a group of like minded persons in Hyderabad, with varied background but a common interest in improvement of the country’s health status. Dr. Mahapatra’s farsightedness can be judged from the fact that the World Health Organisation launched its program on evidence and information for policy around the year 2000 and has an active program to improve health system performance. The IHS is unique in many respects. It’s multidisciplinary approach to study of health sector problems seeks to harness the skills from different areas to improve the efficacy of the health sector. This non profit Institution is run on self financing basis and does not receive any grant in aid. The IHS generates its funds through its research, training and consultant activities. In a short span of 12 years since its inception, the Institute has developed to be one of the largest health system research institutions in the world, and promises to be a leading school of public health in the country. The phenomenal growth and development of the IHS is primarily due to Dr. Mahapatra’s sustained commitment, dynamic and proficient guidance. To realize his dream of a such an Institution, Dr. Mahapatra, spent about six years of his career to prepare himself to provide the required academic guidance. Towards this end, he joined, in 1994, the Ph.D. degree program in public health policy and economics, in the Harvard University and earned the degree in 2000. He has already committed five years of his career, working full time in the IHS as its Director, on deputation from his civil service position, to build up the Institution. Today, the IHS is recognized as a premier centre of health system research in India as well as the South and East Asian Region. The IHS is the only centre in the South and East Asian region with substantial expertise in national burden of disease studies. Recognising this, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chose the Institute to train its scientists in burden of disease study methodology and research on causes of death. The Institute’s research capacity has been utilised by the state government of Andhra Pradesh and the Central Government. For example; IHS was commissioned by the Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to estimate burden of disease among women and children in India, and to study the dynamics of private health sector. The Institute has been commissioned by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to assist in development of health sector strategy and preparation of action plan for reproductive health services and sector reform. 

Dr. Mahapatra’s contribution as a member of WHO committee of experts on measurement and classification for health and as part of Harvard Burden of Disease unit is widely acknowledged. He worked on estimation of burden of disease in AP and has trained a large cadre of individuals in this methodology. He has many publications in National and International journals, in the area of Burden of disease, Public Health, Cause of Death, Hospital performance analysis, private heath sector, rural development, information technology, modernisation of administration, etc. He has been actively involved in policy making at the international, national and state levels. He has also been consultant and advisor for WHO on various issues.     

As mentioned earlier he maintained his unbiased contribution to all his fields of study. Dr. Mahapatra continues to work with vigor to realize the Vision set for I H S. Dr. Mahapatra is currently the President of IHS, Hyderabad.

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