Global health advocate celebrates graduation

14 Dec 2021

Children without access to education in his birth nation of India were the spark for Unni Susil Kumar’s chosen career of medicine.

Mr Kumar migrated to Australia when he was 11 years old and completed his Doctor of Medicine at The University of Queensland, a world away from his early memories.

“When I was 21 years old my father and his friends started a school for HIV positive children in a small village in rural India,” he said.

“Children who were the product of sex workers were not allowed to be educated in the public school, due to the stigma associated with HIV and prostitution.

“I had the opportunity to meet these children, and their dreams to be doctors, engineers and policemen remain with me today.

“These children are my greatest motivation for creating change in the world, so no more are born into a life without hope or opportunity through no fault or choice of their own,” he said.

Mr Kumar began his career as a pharmacist in Cooktown, Far North Queensland.

“This is where I served six Indigenous communities and worked closely with the Cooktown Community Action Network to provide multi-disciplinary services,” he said.

“I chose a career in medicine because of my passion for public health and health leadership.

“It comes from an interest in people, the way we interact and the paths we forge together.

“A career in medicine is a privilege because people trust you when they’re most vulnerable and you generally have the tools to help them.”

He said he was grateful for the experience of living in two countries with contrasting cultures and challenges.

“Growing up in India and moving to Australia has allowed me to understand the true impacts of colonisation in India and the privileges western countries enjoy,” Mr Kuman said.

“I believe this has also given me a sense of responsibility to continue working for global equity.

“Global health is an incredibly complex platform where politics, the planet and humans interact to create the conditions we live in.”

To that end, he created a podcast called The Global Health Advocate, where global health workers have a voice to share their local experiences.

“I think one of the most important lessons I have learned is that equity will come from diverse voices and experiences.

“I'm currently a Board Director with Towards International Medical Equity.

“Our mission is to equip tomorrow's health leaders with adequate experience and knowledge to lift vulnerable populations towards achieving global health equity.

“I look forward to connecting with other heath leaders in my ongoing pursuit of global equity and philanthropy.”

Unni Susil Kumar's graduation ceremony will be held on 18 December 2021 at The University of Queensland's St Lucia campus.

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