The Global Health Asia Institute (GHAI) is an action-oriented think tank hosted by the University of Mahidol (Faculty of Public Health). Located in Bangkok, the institute aims at balancing policy-oriented research, sophisticated analysis and public outreach relating to cross-cutting sustainable development issues with a focus on health and environmental synergies.
Our goal is to create and disseminate knowledge that can inspire behavior change and leadership not only among decision makers but also local communities and vulnerable populations to implement the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We work with an interdisciplinary team made of professionals from the fields of political science, ecology, biology, epidemiology and international relations, who, united, contribute to the emergence of a transdisciplinary approach, the only way to advance resilience building and sustainability.
- Act as mediators between policy makers and researchers with the goal of building trust and improving knowledge exchange;
- Serve as an independent opinion maker on the best available options to ensure an effective implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
- Translate academic research into policy issues, while enhancing transdiciplinary methodologies;
- Facilitate public understanding on key issues related to sustainability, environment conservation and public health;
- Promote greater social and environmental justice through resilience-building among the most vulnerable populations.
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE: GPS
Generating hope – Given the appalling degradation of our environment and consequent negative impacts in our health, it is easy to think that our planet and people are doomed to fail. Optimists could be quickly perceived as trivial thinkers. However, psychology and sociology prove that hope goes well-beyond naiveté. Hope is, in fact, what fuels the achievement of our most important goals!
Protecting our Health – In today’s globalized economies, great tension between market values and social and environmental protection exist. Global Health Asia Institute work at national, international and community levels raising public policy standards representative of community perceptions to balance economic development imperatives, environment conservation and rural livelihoods preservation for resilience and a sustainable health development agenda.
Sharing solutions for a sustainable future – “There can be no good government until philosophers are kings and the kings philosophers” says Plato in the Republic. Global Health Asia Institute encourages greater exchange of ideas between academia and the policy world with the objective to identify solutions in times of blurred leadership. Our work expects to disseminate concrete answers for an effective implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local, regional and global levels.
ELEMENTS TO GUIDE OUR PERFORMANCE
Some indicators that suggest that a think tank’s influence has been realized or made manifest include:
- Resource indicators: Level, quality and stability of financial support; proximity and access to decision makers and other policy elites; background and skills of staff; quality and reliability of networks and key contacts in the policy and academic communities and the media.
- Demand indicators: Media exposure, web hits, testimony, briefings, official appointments, consultation by officials or departments/agencies, conducive or receptive political environment, books sold, reports distributed, numbers of conferences and seminars.
- Impact indicators: Recommendations considered or adopted by policymakers, perceptions of users, network centrality, advisory role to parties, candidates, transition teams, awards, publication in or citation of publications in academic journals, listserv and website dominance, adoption of contrarian positions (that is, opposed to official line), etc.
If one is skeptical about such claims and the value of such evidence, there are other ways to measure a program’s relevance to the policy process and potential to shape outcomes:
- Relationships/contacts with policymakers/implementers
- Relationships of individuals (Board members etc.) with policymakers
- Extent of/quality of circulation of research products
- Utilization of products by policymakers (public references)
- Utilization by other influential elites: editorial boards, columnists, media commentators
- Utilization by political pressure groups and other civic actors
- Cumulative media references to research products
- References made to research and analysis in scholarly journals, new media, public testimony, etc.
GHAI HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Global Health Asia Institute was established in 2010 as an administratively independent cooperative unit endorsed by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, and situated in Mahidol University’s new Sataranasuk building. It originally served jointly as Office of the Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) and as the administrative center for the international arm of a U. S. National Science Foundation grant for education and research integration of ecological, sustainability, and health sciences.
Through its staff and affiliated researchers, GHAI has worked throughout Southeast Asia developing and jointly implementing research and training projects mostly focused on capacity-building for Ecohealth and One Health approaches to zoonotic disease prevention and control. Since its establishment, GHAI has conducted collaborative projects including training events with many domestic and international agencies and organizations. GHAI scientists’ areas of expertise include ecosystem approaches to health, and transdisciplinary research and intervention including community participatory methods for zoonotic disease prevention and control, community based biodiversity conservation, and human and veterinary public health.
Under the vision of our new executive director Nicole de Paula GHAI diversifies its activities toward the incorporation of a stronger international relations and political frame and the strategic operationalisation of our scientific expertise related to health promotion within a broader sustainable agenda.
GHAI is administered by Global Health Group International Co, Ltd., a Thai company also registered with the US Government.