University of Texas School of Public Health student Ms. Puja B. Gandhi, along with classmates Mr. Romero N. Santiago and Ms. Arianna Fresquez, also students at UTHealth, were announced as 2017 recipients of the Excellence in Public Health Award from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). On hand in July for the UTHealth MD/MPH dual degree program orientation, to present Ms. Gandhi with the award, was Cmdr. Dr. James Warner as well as UTHealth faculty member and USPHS Lt. Cmdr. Dr. Robert “Safety Bob” Emery. Ms. Gandhi is a student in the MD/MPH program between UTHealth and the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Dr. Warner is a USPHS physician for the U.S. Coast Guard in Galveston.
The award recognizes medical students who are involved in public health issues in their communities and who increase awareness of the USPHS’s mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation. The Public Health Service was founded in 1798 to provide medical care to sailors and merchant seamen with yellow fever and malaria. Over the subsequent 216 years, its mission has broadened to deliver health promotion and disease prevention programs to all Americans. Today, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service is dedicated to serving on the front lines in the nation’s fight against disease and poor health conditions.
As Warner presented the award to Ms. Gandhi, he said, “On behalf of the chief medical officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, I would like to recognize Ms. Puja Gandhi with the 2017 Excellence in Public Health award. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to public health, and we hope you consider a career with the U.S. Public Health Service.”
Ms. Gandhi is in her last year in the dual degree MD/MPH program. She also participated in the South Texas Environmental and Educational Research Program, during which she learned about pertinent U.S.-Mexico border issues and how to provide focused health services tailored to the community. Gandhi used cultural competency to improve health care quality during her internship with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. She graduates from medical school in May 2018 and she’s earning her MPH in epidemiology and healthcare management, at UTHealth. She hopes to use her MD/MPH to address global health disparities.
“I want to improve access to quality health care and education, especially in underserved areas, through globalized medicine focused on prevention, and working with public and global health organizations to address the relevant health issues faced by our community,” Ms. Gandhi says.
[Photo: U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Dr. James Warner, (left), presents the 2017 Excellence in Public Health Award to Ms. Puja B. Gandhi. UTHealth School of Public Health faculty member and USPHS Lt. Cmdr. Dr. Robert “Safety Bob” Emery, (right), was also on hand for the presentation.]