Working in maternal and child health research is a dream come true for Humaira Maheen (MAppSocRes 2011).
It’s a dream that blossomed after Humaira made the decision to move from Pakistan to Australia, to study social research at Monash University.
In 2009 Humaira received an Australian Development Scholarship. These awards support people from developing countries to undertake full time undergraduate or postgraduate study at Australian universities and TAFE institutions, in order to contribute to their country’s long-term development.
“I was working as a research associate at Aga Khan University at the time. I felt a need to strengthen my research skills and extend my academic career,” she said.
“Exploring my options, Australia offered not only quality education, but was multicultural, liveable and supportive of international students.”
Humaira studied a Masters in Applied Social Research, striking a special affinity for maternal and child health issues. Her research project examined acute respiratory infection in Pakistani children.
“I was overwhelmed with the response to my research when I returned to Pakistan,” she said.
“I joined the research staff at my country’s most prestigious health provider, the Aga Khan University Hospital.
“Now I’m working with a team of the most renowned doctors in Pakistan, including Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, who is internationally recognised for his contribution to maternal and child health research.”
Through her work Humaira helps doctors to design and implement multidisciplinary research projects.
“I find it intellectually stimulating - data analysis and working with experts in the field are the best aspects of my job,” she said.
“Had I not chosen to go to Australia and study social research, I would never be able to make it to where I am today.
“I also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience a completely different society; a welcoming and open society, which respects people from all different countries.”
Humaira plans to work in social research in maternal and neonatal health in Pakistan for the next few years before undertaking further study in the area.
“I want to serve my country: we need more expert health professionals and researchers.
“Further education will be key to achieving that goal,” she said.