Dr Rajiv Bahl is a physician-scientist, with specialization in paediatrics (MD Pediatrics: University of Delhi) and public health (PhD: All India Institute of Medical Sciences). He has also received an Honorary Doctorate from University of Bergen, Norway, in 2022 in recognition of his contributions to maternal and child health research. He has 30 years of experienceleading health research and translating research to public health policyboth in India and at a global level.
Dr Bahl has held the position of Head of Research on Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva (2013-22). Prior to that, he was responsible for Newborn and Child Health research at WHO (2003-2012) and was a scientist in the ICMR Advanced Centre for Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition Research at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) from 1994-2002.
His expertise includes setting the research agenda, conceptualizing and implementing health research to address key priorities, mobilizing resources, supporting and building capacity of research institutions to implement research studies with excellence, and translating research findings into public health policy and programmes. In addition, he has significant experience of research in nutrition, enteric and respiratory diseases and non-communicable diseases. He has conducted and coordinated population-based and hospital-based intervention trials, cohort and case-control studies, and implementation research to scale-up interventions. The research led by him which has been carried out with world class quality; has directly impacted policy and programmes. It has responded to public health needs, and has been published in high-impact journals.
Dr Bahl has supported population-based, multi-country research studies in over 20 countries in Asia and Africa and has contributed to strengthening research capacity in over 50 institutions. A few examples of public health impact of the research conducted under Dr Bahl’s leadership include policy of use of zinc in treatment of diarrhoea, early initiation of breastfeeding, outpatient treatment of newborns with severe infections closer to home; which included interventions by frontline health workers with simplified antibiotic regimens in cases where they could not be admitted to a hospital, and immediate initiation of Kangaroo Mother Care after birth in mother-newborn intensive care units.
- Conducted, led and coordinated research that had significant impact on health policy and programmes and had the potential of saving over 10,00,000 lives every year.
- Contributed to major innovations for newborn and child health including zinc in treatment of diarrhoea, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, outpatient treatment of newborns with severe infections when they could not be admitted to a hospital, and immediate initiation of Kangaroo Mother Care after birth in mother-newborn intensive care units.
- Formulation of evidence-based global policy guidelines for the past 20 years in all aspects of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.
- Strengthened research capacity in more than 50 institutions in 20 countries through hands-on work on important research initiatives, including capacity for proposal development, world-class implementation, data analysis and interpretation of results.