Research Lead, Howard Delafield International (HDI)
Aparna Raj is a development professional, a gold medalist in Rural Management, with an experience of around 10 years. She has been part of health programs and research projects that have examined prominent public health problems in India and sustainable strategies to address them. She began her career in this sector with Care India as an M&E officer in Bihar – a resource-poor state often dubbed India’s backyard because of its lack of social and industrial development. The exposure helped her gain a holistic experience of state and national-level programs on reproductive, maternal and child health and the field research aimed at identifying the policy and implementation gaps. During her stint, she also conducted field research on Kala azar, a neglected (ain’t all diseases affecting the poor neglected!) tropical disease. She then moved on to Girl Effect, which opened her eyes to the ‘Taboo’ topic of the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents.
While she related to the lack of awareness on SRH, she learnt the hard way that mere awareness generation does not bring the intended changes in behavior – like numerous public health professionals across the globe, she is still scratching her head to find a viable behavior change solution! This exposure, and her prior experience as an Android developer, drew her to research digital solutions for addressing the knowledge and behavioral gaps in this demographic section. Since its inception, she has been involved with Game of Choice, a serious game targeted exclusively at improving SRH knowledge and health access for adolescent girls. Her current responsibilities at HDI are to provide research support to Game of Choice and other ongoing projects.
In her leisure time, she keeps her frustrations at bay by reading books and listening to Sadhguru. Her friends know that she has almost all common phobias except acrophobia (evident from her love for bungee jumping!).