Member Focus

Pushkar Raj Silwal

Organisation: University of Auckland, New Zealand

Current position: PhD Candidate

Research interest:

  • Health policy analysis
  • Performance strategies for improvement
  • Systemic approach to public health interventions
  • Researching health policy implementation

How did you get started in HSR and what drew you to it?

  • Working in Non-Government Organization led projects related to sexual and reproductive health targeting adolescents and young people in Nepal for about five years, I developed my interests in health policy and health service research. I would like to explore insights into what sorts of policy/strategic interventions (from government sector) guide performance improvement at the overall system level, instead of one or another specific health issues.


What was the first project you worked on and where?

  • The first project (short-term, paid work) that I worked on was the  Mobility and Health Project 2008, funded by Rural Health Development Project (a Swiss Agency) in Nepal, as a Research Assistant. The project explored the impact of expanding road networks in rural remote areas on women’s health. However, my first full-time job was at MEH Consultants Pvt. Ltd., a private company that works in Health and Engineering sector in Nepal, as a Public Health Programme Officer.


What are some of the key projects you are currently working on?

  • Research Assistant (part-time), Health Systems department, University of Auckland: Implementing the System Level Measures policy framework for improving health system outcomes: Identifying early indicators of success and failure
  • PhD project: Why does health system performance vary across New Zealand – A public management perspective


What have been your career highlights so far and why?

  • Two of the projects that I worked on have had strong impacts on my career:
    • The first one comes from the GFA Consulting Group (a German company) where I worked for about 4 years as a Regional Programme Coordinator in one of the more remote and least developed regions in Nepal. There, I got to understand policy (guideline) development process as well as its implementation in the ground. The project had been successful in shifting the traditional vertical NGO sector led short-term project activities in the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of young people in Nepal to a system-led initiative that got integrated well into the public health care delivery systems.
    • The second one comes from the work at the German - Nepal Health System Strengthening Project in Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH based in Nepal. There, I worked at the capacity of Technical Advisor, very closely with the Ministry of Health, Nepal and other International NGOs in extending the focus of Youth health program in Nepal from only the traditional health sector interventions to multi-sectoral initiatives. I enjoyed working in revision of the National Adolescent Health and Development Strategy.


Can you tell us more about your PhD project?

  • The working title of my PhD project is – Why does health system performance vary across New Zealand? Specifically, I am interested at exploring performance policies/strategies in New Zealand from the perspectives of public management, thereby understanding: whether or not the particular health system performance policies are shaping the performance actions/improvement at the decentralized level, and if so, how? I am working under supervision of A/P Tim Tenbensel, Health systems and A/P Daniel Exeter, Epidemiology and Biostatistics.


Who has had the biggest influence over your career to date? 

  • Suniti Acharya, former WHO Country Representative, Bangladesh (2000-2005), had a strong influence on my public health career. I worked with Dr. Acharya in a country case study on Health System Strengthening (HSS) tracking study commissioned by WHO GAVI in 2009. Similarly, Eva Schildbach, Portfolio manager, Health at GFA Consulting Group, Germany, is another person who has strong influences in my career. I worked with Eva at GFA Consulting Group from 2010 – 2014, in Nepal.


What’s next for you in your career?

  • I would like to further my career in the health policy and health system research areas, particularly in systemic approaches to performance improvement in health sector.


What is your motivation for becoming involved with the HSRAANZ?  What services would you find most helpful?

  • I am relatively naïve in this area, health service research and public policy in the high-income country contexts. So, I am putting every effort to make best out of this journey. From the HSRAANZ, I would like to access the available resources in the sector, besides extending my network with the distinguished professionals in the field.


What do you think is the biggest challenge for those seeking to build a HSR career?

  • To my understanding so far, it’s very easy to get lost in this sector. It’s too wide to cover, and too deep to develop expertise.
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