Dr. Sunil Kumar Joshi
MD, MPhil (Occup. Med), PG Dip. Diabetology, PhD (Public Health & Com Med)
Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine
Kathmandu Medical College Public Ltd. (KMC), Kathmandu University, Nepal
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health & AS, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK
Dr. Sunil Kumar Joshi is a well-known name in the field of public health in Nepal. Dr. Sunil Kumar Joshi is a medical doctor (MD) specialized in Occupational Medicine, Diabetology, PhD in Public Health and Community Medicine (Injury Prevention & Safety Promotion). He has also received Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the European Centre of Gender Excellence, Thematic Gender Studies Department of the Linkoping University, Sweden.
Dr. Joshi is the only Occupational Physician in Nepal registered with Nepal Medical Council. Similarly, he is the first Nepali Professor of Community Medicine under Kathmandu University, Nepal.
He is working as Head of the Department of Community Medicine, Kathmandu Medical College (KMC), Kathmandu University, where he teaches undergraduate (MBBS) and postgraduate (MD, PhD) medical students. Similarly, he is Chairperson of the Institutional Review Committee (IRC) at KMC.
Dr. Joshi is Nepal Director of Nepal Injury Research Centre (NIRC) which is an NIHR Global Health Research Group on Nepal Injury Research Project and established in Kathmandu Medical College. Dr. Joshi has also been elected as the Board Member of International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) for 2018-2022.
Dr. Joshi has been involved in injuries, violence and disabilities prevention activities in Nepal since 2006 as a National Consultant for World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal. His activities were focused on assisting the Nepal Government in formulating policies, strategies and action plans in injuries, violence and disabilities prevention. He has drafted National Policy and Strategy for investigation, treatment and compensation of occupational injuries/diseases in Nepal, which is incorporated in recent Labour Act (2017), Rules (2018) and Social Security Scheme Operational Guidelines (2018) of Nepal. Dr. Joshi serves as a member of several national and international scientific committees. He has published more than 75 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Q1. Please share your inspirational journey with us.
There were very few medical doctors in Nepal practising preventive medicine (public health). My interest in public health grew in early 1998 when I worked in a remote village in Nepal. Personal and environmental hygiene was so poor that diarrhoeal diseases were very common. Investigation of outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases, pyrexia of unknown origin, etc. exposed me to Epidemiological studies.
As the company I worked for employed more than 2500 employees, it was my responsibility to take care of them and prevent them from work-related injuries and health problems. That is how I developed an interest in occupational and environmental medicine, which led to a master’s degree study in that field in 2000. My research work on occupational lung cancer was the first study in Occupational Medicine in Nepal. There was no policy on occupational diseases in Nepal when I started my job. So, I started lobbying for that in the concerned sectoral ministries, and in 2013 I got invited at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Nepal for the initiation of the process of drafting a policy on investigation, treatment and compensation of occupational injuries/diseases in Nepal. We do already have such a policy in Nepal now.
Few international journals were publishing research materials on occupational health and safety in our region. So we started an International Journal of Occupational Safety and Health (IJOSH) in 2011 and I have been the Editor-in-Chief of that journal since its inception. The journal is coming out regularly and has been able to gain popularity among researchers from all over the world.
I have also been involved in activities/ studies on violence and injury prevention in Nepal since 2006 as a National Consultant for the WHO/Ministry of Health and Population. My PhD thesis was based on those activities conducted from 2007 to 2009. My activities were focused on assisting the Nepal Government in formulating policies, strategies and action plans in injuries, violence and disabilities prevention. Kathmandu Medical College in collaboration with the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK received the NHS National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research funding to establish Nepal Injury Research Center (NIRC) in Nepal. I am Director of the NIRC. I am also Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE, Bristol, UK.
I am involved in research on violence against women (VAW), namely domestic violence and trafficking of women and girls. WG Trafficking in Nepal was also a theme for my Post Doctoral Fellowship at the Department of Gender Studies, Linkoping University, Sweden. Recently, I am supervising few PhD/ MD candidates who are doing research work on gender-based violence in Nepal. After successful completion of the Addressing Domestic Violence in Antenatal Care Environments 1 (ADVANCE 1) project, we have received Norwegian Research Council FRIPRO Grant for the ADVANCE 2 project (Collaborating partner – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway).
I am an active member of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH). I worked as International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) National Secretary for Nepal for the tenures 2009-2012 and 2015-2017. I have been elected as the Board Member of ICOH for the triennium 2018 – 2022.
I started my academic career in 2002 as a Lecturer in community medicine and I became a full professor of community medicine in 2014. I have got a privilege to become the first Nepali Professor of Community Medicine under Kathmandu University, Nepal.
Q2. What did attract you towards to become a Doctor and join the medical field?
My grandmother used to suffer from diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. She used to get admitted in the intensive care unit frequently and it was my responsibility to carry food for her from home. So, I became exposed to the hospital environment at a very early age and I started developing interest in the medical field. I was very keen and good in surgical disciplines during my early career as a medical doctor. My colleagues and seniors thought that I would become a urologist. My career made a U-turn when I chose to study public health-related field. But I am quite satisfied that I am in this field and gained international fame as a public health expert.
Q3. What are the main reasons that diabetes patients growing rapidly all over the world (As a medical doctor specialized in Diabetology)?
Diabetes patients are growing rapidly in the world, mainly in developing countries. There are many reasons behind that. Main reasons include the change in lifestyles such as consumption of high-calorie food (junk foods), harmful consumption of alcohol, lack of physical exercises, and obesity. Environmental pollution, excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, use of growth-stimulating medicines in poultry and animal farming are few stimulating causes of diabetes as well.
Q4. How do you motivate yourself every morning?
Every morning I wake up thanking God for one more day of active and productive life. I usually plan my whole day before going out for a morning walk or light exercises at home during rainy days. Having breakfast together with all family members is a positive step to start your active day.
Q5. You had both academic and medical physician experience in your long span of a career. Which one do you like most and why?
I like both academic and medical physician’s works. Both activities are quite satisfying for me. I am more involved in academic activities, where I work with the fellow faculty members, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level students. I have many research projects running with many researchers working on different projects. I feel quite satisfied when people complete their academic degrees and different projects under my supervision. It is quite satisfying as well when your patients leave your clinic smiling when their medical problems are solved.
Q6. You are a Visiting Professor at the University of the West of England. Do you feel any difference in education pattern in native colleges comparing to abroad colleges?
Nowadays, the education system in native colleges has improved significantly. They are not by any means lower than in the developed countries. Nevertheless, there are many rooms for improvement in our colleges and universities. Political unhealthy interventions, unethical practices are required to be controlled.
In the era of COVID-19 pandemic, where almost all colleges in the world have implemented online teaching methods, strengthening the online infrastructure for teaching-learning activities and accessibility to the online teaching and learning resources is very important. This is the area where our colleges must develop their strength.
Q7. How do you motivate students to excel in their academics and career?
I always tell the students that they should enjoy what they are doing. If they are not enjoying their work or study, then they are wasting their time and resources. Honesty should come first and they need to work on developing a helping attitude from Day 1 at the school as it takes a long time to develop such an attitude.
Q8. What is the meaning of Success in your terms? Success is what you do every day. Whatever you do, you do full-heartedly, without thinking what you would benefit from doing that. Success is not the thing you should run after; success will follow you if you do things for other’s benefits. At the end of the day, before you go to sleep, you should be able to satisfy yourself that you have fulfilled your duty, your assignments as an expert in your field and as a person.
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