TURAL GULU, 2019-20 STUDY UK ALUMNI AWARDS WINNER, SHARES HIS STORY ABOUT HOW STUDYING IN THE UK HELPED HIM BECOME A FRONT-LINE ADVOCATE FOR A UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN AZERBAIJAN.
After graduating from the Azerbaijan Medical University, I realised that my mission is to focus on macro-level problems in the healthcare system of my country. I wanted to devote my life to fight to save people's lives - because I believe that with the right health policies and disease prevention strategies, people in Azerbaijan and elsewhere can live longer and healthier.
Grass-roots of success
As I was searching for master programmes, I came across with the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program at the University of Sheffield (TUOS). TUOS is a world-class university with a global reputation for excellence. To fund my education, I applied and was awarded with a full scholarship under the State Program on education of Azerbaijani Youth abroad in 2007-2015.
Studying in the UK was a life-changing experience. I gained an opportunity to develop my professional skills, knowledge, critical thinking, and also social connections to kick-start my career in public health. I truly believe that the UK education made me a better, stronger and more determined person and a professional.
With the right health policies and disease prevention strategies, we can make people in Azerbaijan live longer and healthier lives.
In 2015, I received a scholarship from the US National Institute of Health to do post-doctoral research fellowship at the Harvard University. During this fellowship, I gained a chance to meet with the faculty and investigators at the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. I took my time to complete the courses in Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Ethics and attended Institutional Review Board (IRB) sessions.
After I came back from Boston, I joined State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance. At the agency, I am responsible for collecting and undertaking statistical analysis, preparing health policy recommendations and reports, and designing health financing mechanisms. My professional life is now dedicated to the Strategic Roadmap Project - which involves assessment and optimisation of healthcare provider network, strengthening mechanisms for primary healthcare, analysing the collection of contributions from different population groups and designing a better, leaner and more efficient health insurance model for Azerbaijan.
A helping hand
Besides giving me my professional background, the UK education helped me to strengthen my leadership and inter-personal skills. For example, I am proud to be a member of Azerbaijan-UK alumni community. In 2016, I was an Azerbaijan UK Alumni Association (AUKAA) Board Member. Through AUKAA, we took many engaging alumni-led projects to partners in the UK and Azerbaijan, including the British Council and the British Embassy. We also organised the first-ever joint networking event with the US-educated Azerbaijani alumnis and created a bigger network of more than 200 alumni.
I also helped to run the AUKAA Exchange School. This school was a platform where UK alumni could share their knowledge and ideas with the current university students. We invited our alumni from different areas to offer online and off-line workshops about what they learned from the UK education and how young professionals could use this knowledge in their areas of professional activity.
Winning the #UKAlumniAwards
It was a great honour to be selected one of the winners of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2019-20. I am spending my winner's prize on professional development training in the UK and will also compete at the global-level UK Alumni Awards. My future goal is to learn, adapt and apply the best international practise to strengthen the healthcare system in Azerbaijan so that all people in my country may have access to the quality health services they need. It is a special pleasure to help people be healthy and successful in life - this is why I dedicate my non-professional activities to support the young people in their careers and personal development.
ABOUT THE PROGRAMME
When outstanding individuals receive a world-class education in the UK, the effects can last a lifetime. The Alumni Awards shine a light on the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions are making in their chosen field, and how this was sparked by their studies in the UK.
There are three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial, and Social Impact Award.
- Professional Achievement Award recognising UK alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership and achievements in their professional industry, and who can demonstrate the impact and scale of their achievements in their profession, and beyond.
- Entrepreneurial Award recognising UK alumni who are active in initiating or contributing to innovative or creative new ideas, solutions or business opportunities that have the potential for strong growth.
- Social Impact Award recognising UK alumni who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.