Studying Global Health Policy online – Baruch's story

Baruch Díaz from Mexico City is a Global Health Policy graduate. The programme has helped him to take an active role in the COVID-19 pandemic as both an international spokesperson and Health Services Manager of a Diagnostic Centre.
Baruch Diaz

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background  

I studied medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and became part of a clinical research programme, first at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery and then at the Stroke Unit of the National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition. Here, I gained experience collaborating with national and international health teams. After graduating, I was promoted to the Chief Project Officer of the traveller's clinic at the National University at Mexico City's International Airport and years later became associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine.

Why did you choose to study your course at LSHTM? 

There were three factors: the relevance that LSHTM has in the field of global health policy; the possibility to continue with my professional career while stepping forward in the academic field, by choosing to study by distance learning; the quality of the programme and the excellent team that supports you anytime, everywhere.  

What were your favourite aspects of the programme?  

My favourite modules were Politics of Global Health Policy, Health Systems and the Project Module. I believe that doing a research project makes you apply the key elements of a Master's Degree in a practical way while being supervised and mentored. Flexible study time and classwork were fundamental - a distance learning programme gives you the possibility to balance your commitments in a way that other modalities would not. 

It has given me the opportunity to participate in regional, national and international forums as a spokesman and take action as a Health Services Manager of a COVID-19 diagnostic centre.

How has the programme helped you in your career? 

As my graduation happened just before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been useful to understand how global health policies can have a negative or positive impact on the local, national, regional and global levels of governance. It has given me the opportunity to participate in regional, national and international forums as a spokesman and take action as a Health Services Manager of a COVID-19 diagnostic centre.  

What have you been doing since graduation?  

My fields of work are migration and health, travel medicine and epidemiology. It has been a year since graduation and I have been able to collaborate with international and regional teams in the travel industry to implement policies which can facilitate the transition to the ‘new normal’. Additionally, and in association with some colleagues, I am working with enterprises to develop health policies and epidemiological tools which help them to build resilience. 

What skills did you gain from studying this programme?  

It was the first time that I had taken a distance learning option so a key skill was to understand and manage the virtual classroom environment. Another was critical thinking and the framework for understanding that the global health perspective gives you, to comprehend the complexity of some health problems and health crises. 

Are you able to connect/network with other alumni? How do you do this? 

Yes, the alumni meetings are key to connect with others, as well as social networks. I keep in touch with other LSHTM alumni mainly on LinkedIn, and with some others through Instagram and Facebook. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your programme at LSHTM?  

Global Health Policy is a subject that will be central during the following years and it has many areas of study. My advice is that before you engage with it, you have a clear idea of the main reason that moves or inspires you to study Global Health Policy. If you choose the distance learning option, make a study plan and stick to it and also don’t be shy to contact your professors and companions. If you feel disappointed or are affected by an adverse environment, do not hesitate to ask for help.  

Please sum up your experience of studying by distance learning with LSHTM 

I began my journey at LSHTM with great expectations, a lot of motivation, willing to learn and grow in my academic and professional life. My final advice can be summarised in the following three phrases: be persistent, do not leave it for later; be tolerant because every time you can learn new things from different points of view; the last one is to remember that we are humans: life changes over time but if you really want it, you will find a way.