HEU Blog May 2023

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A warm welcome to this month’s HEU Blog. HEU is a hive of activity! In terms of teaching, our current MSc cohort are transitioning from completion of their taught modules to beginning work on their dissertations. And in the World of research, various HEU staff are writing up their papers having had abstracts accepted for HESG in Oxford.

In this month’s blog, our focus is on capacity building: our MSc and PhD students are a hugely important and valued part of HEU. Incidentally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that our capacity building activities also extend to coordinating an undergraduate Health Economics module, in partnership with colleagues in Birmingham Business School. But, returning to the topic in-hand, our focus here specifically is on capacity building with respect to our fantastic international MSc and PhD students – past and present. We’ll share a brief profile of two former MSc students (Steve & Omar), a current visiting student (Nienke), and a current joint-registration PhD student (Lacina), and give an insight into their experiences.

Omar Madani

MSc Health Economics & Health Policy 2021-22

Omar studied on the MSc with financial support from a Saïd Foundation scholarship.  Prior to starting the MSc, Omar had completed a BSc in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and had experience of working the digital health sector, and in healthcare data quality assurance, and precision medicine business planning, working in low and middle-income countries and internationally.   

“I had a really positive experience on the MSc.  I am grateful for the whole experience, the high-quality education, the excellent relationship with the teachers, and the friendly and diverse classmates”

During his time studying on the MSc Omar was elected as a student representative for postgraduate taught students across the College.  Omar’s dissertation was completed as part of an internship with Cogentia Healthcare Consulting; for the dissertation, he built a model to explore the cost-effectiveness of an oncology product. 

After graduation, Omar started work as a Health Economics Analyst at Cambridge (UK)-based Cogentia, where he is responsible for conducting various types of cost-effectiveness modelling, and providing support for HTA submissions. 

Steve Nwokeocha

MSc Health Economics & Health Policy 2021-22 

Steve came to the UK from Nigeria to study on the MSc as an international student.  Steve was one of three students from the MSc to be awarded funding through the Turing Scheme to travel to Melbourne, Australia to complete his dissertation as a placement with the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University.  The Turing Scheme gave Steve the opportunity to build connections with academic health economists across two continents, which he feels broadened his perspective and enhanced his research skills.  His dissertation was entitled “The Economic Burden of Sickle Cell Disease To The Healthcare System Of Australiaand was co-supervised at Monash by Dr Adam Iriving, Helen Haysom and Professor Dennis Petrie.  Steve’s dissertation supervisors at HEU were Mwayi Kachapila and Tracy Roberts.

“Starting with an almost non-existent background of Health Economics, I graduated with a distinction, having had the experience of a lifetime studying at two of the world’s top Universities: University of Birmingham and Monash University. The opportunity was all thanks to the excellent support of the staff at HEU, and the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University.”

Steve (front LHS) with staff from the Centre for Health Economics, Monash University

Lacina Traore 

PhD Student 2022- 

Lacina is a split-site, full time PhD student based in Mali.  He started his PhD in June 2022.  His research focus is on developing methods to capture broader societal costs and outcomes of mother and community targeted interventions to improve food safety, hygiene, nutrition and play practices in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Prior to starting his PhD, he completed a masters degree in statistics from the National Statistical School (ENSEA) in Ivory coast, and a bachelor in economics from the University of Bamako. Lacina has also previously worked as a research analyst for the World Bank and Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA), working across various locations in Africa and the USA. As a research analyst, he investigated behavioural change interventions in low and middle income contexts, with the aim of increasing the use of health economics in Africa. 

Lacina is supervised by HEU’s Louise Jackson, with additional supervisory support at the University of Birmingham from Dr Sami Bensassi (Birmingham Business School) and Dr Semira Manaseki-Holland (Institute of Applied Health Research). 

Email: llt186@student.bham.ac.uk 

Nienke de Graef

Visiting MSc Student

Nienke lives in Maastricht, the Netherlands. She is a 23-year-old student pursuing a Master’s degree in Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management from Maastricht University. As a part of her academic journey, she is currently working on her Master’s dissertation at the Centre for the Economics of Obesity at the University of Birmingham, from the 7th of April to the 7th of July 2023.  Nienke is supervised at Birmingham by HEU’s Irina Pokhilenko.

Nienke’s Bachelor’s degree is in Medicine and she has an avid interest in improving healthcare. Her dissertation aims to analyse the economic costs faced by people living with obesity, specifically in relation to mental health care services.

“I am grateful for the support of Maastricht University, which has provided me with a small grant to fund this three-month stay in Birmingham.  I am thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic and welcoming team, where everyone has extended their support and guidance towards me. From participating in meetings to learning about research at the University of Birmingham, I am looking forward to gaining wealth of knowledge and experience during my time here.”

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