In this Q&A we hear from Saroj Pachauri on her extensive work covering areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, family planning, maternal health, gender, poverty and youth. She discusses the societal impact her research has had and how this ties in with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
I have worked with the Family Health International and The Population Council, both are international research organizations. I was regional Director, South and East Asia, Population Council until 2014 when I retired. I now work as an independent researcher. My research focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender, HIV and AIDS, maternal and child health, self-care, COVID-19, climate change and health, and other public health problems.
Research provides the evidence for formulating national policies and program strategies. Research is, therefore, fundamentally needed for making societal impact.
For example, at Family Health International, I undertook multicentric clinical trials in several countries to assess the safety and effectiveness of fertility control methods. This led to female sterilization, methods for pregnancy termination, and menstrual regulation to be adopted in several national programs.
At the Population Council, our research on HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health provided the evidence to design interventions for national programs. I worked very closely with policy-makers and program implementers which is what made it possible. Policy advocacy was an integral part of all programs that I undertook.
My work on sexual and reproductive health and rights is linked to Target 3.7, grant universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, family planning and education under SDG goal 3. Gender, a cross-cutting issue in all my work, relates to SDG 5. I have published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and books to document progress of this SDG.
The most relevant way to measure the success of SDGs 3 and 5 is by measuring and monitoring change occurring over time, using sex disaggregated data, and also by drawing on the evidence provided by relevant research studies.
Extensive multi-country research undertaken on sexual and reproductive health and rights provided the evidence for designing interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care, safe abortion, and maternal health among others. Our book entitled Transforming Unequal Gender Relations: An Intersectional Perspective on Challenges and Opportunities, is currently under publication with Springer Nature. It provides research data and evidence that measures several different dimensions of gender in developed and developing countries.
In general, I aim to target policy-makers, program implementers, researchers, other professionals and stakeholders, and the general public.
Specifically, in the 1970s, I worked with policy-makers and program implementers to undertake clinical trials to assess the safety and effectiveness of laparoscopic female sterilization, manual vacuum aspiration for abortion, menstrual regulation, and other fertility control technologies. These are now an integral part of national programs in developing countries. I worked on safe abortion methods to save women’s lives. These methods are included in national programs of countries where abortion is legal. My research findings on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS were used for the design of interventions in national programs in South and East Asia.
Advocacy through workshops and meetings should be undertaken to engage with target audiences. A broad range of media communications should also be promoted to reach them.
My advice to young professionals is to look beyond their academic objectives and examine the usefulness and impact of their research on the society at large. They should engage with key stakeholders so that their research can have a broader impact beyond their immediate scholarly goals.
Publishers can play a very important role to support researchers in addressing the SDGs by commissioning books on SDGs and helping to make books and publications Open Access so that they can be widely read by all audiences in developed and developing countries.
Saroj Pachauri is a Public Health Physician and has undertaken extensive research on sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, family planning, maternal health, gender, poverty and youth. Saroj Pachauri was Regional Director for South and East Asia, Population Council. She has published 4 books, contributed chapters to 20 books, published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and numerous print and media articles. She was awarded the Grants Gold Medal for securing the first position in DPH and was bestowed the prestigious title of Distinguished Scholar by the Population Council.