Mohammad Hajizadeh is an Associate Professor in the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Queensland and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Western Ontario and McGill University. Prior to commencing his PhD studies, he worked as a faculty member at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences for more than three years. Dr. Hajizadeh received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Global Health Research - Capacity Strengthening (GHR-CAPS) Program. He was a recipient of a CIHR Fellowship award.
1. What made you want to be a part of HPI?
It is a great way to meet other people, other researchers and learn about their research. Although Dal is not that big, if you want to collaborate with another researcher, it can be hard to find a someone with a specific research interest. I think HPI does a great job of bringing different researchers and their research interests together to facilitate a network. I realized that there was a lot of common research we could do together as my research is focused on equity related issues in health care and in health. I got more involved
with HPI and the other researchers at HPI.
2. How have your research interests changed or grown over the years? Where did you first start and how did you get to where you are now?
My first assignment was a community profile that I did in my undergrad. When I handed it in there was a sense of accomplishment, and I started to think about how I would like to do research. But really it wasn’t until my masters when I learned the process of how to be a researcher. I started with equity issues, and I focused in on equity in health care finance. As I was doing this I learned that there was also literature on equity in health care utilization. When I was in Australia, I learned they were focusing on equity in health and not health care. So this opened my eyes to equity in health and inspired me to explore it when I came here to Canada. I began to explore various aspects of equity in health when I was in Ontario and at the same time I was working with a group at McGill University that was researching the effect of social policy on health outcomes. Now that I live here in Halifax, I still do some work with McGill University, but I am also doing work on social economic inequalities.
3. What's been most surprising along the journey of your career path?
How everything lined up perfectly. All the things that happened, they all lined up in a way that brought me here to Dalhousie. As I graduated from my undergrad, my university started a new Master program in Health Economics, which was perfect timing for me. Originally I was going to do a Master of Economics, but this combined both economics and health. I was the first to graduate from the Masters of Health Economics program in Iran. This led me to Australia to do my Ph.D. and to Canada for my post-doc. I was in my second year of my Post Doc at McGill and I saw that there was a posting for Health Economics at the school of Health Administration at Dalhousie, and I knew this had to be my home. Originally, I was not looking for a job, as I was planning on returning to a faculty position in Iran. I just happened to find it online and it was so perfect with my background in Health Administration and Economics. I applied and got the job, and now here I am at Dalhousie.
4. How does your research impact the everyday lives of Canadians?
I am an applied researcher, by that, I mean all the research questions that we pose in our research is directed in a way that it will answer one question that can be used in policy decisions, or used to plan a strategy or intervention. I have done multiple studies in developing countries and for each one I write about the policy implication outlined. In the Canadian context, a paper I recently published was on the socioeconomic gradients of health in Canada. The study showed that the gap is widening between the rich and poor, specifically among women. This warrants that there is something happening to widen the gap. So, if we are looking at the distribution of education and income in policies, then we need to create some form of strategy to address this disparity. Currently, I am working on a study that looks at the wait times in the health care system, for individuals of higher income they have a lower wait time than those of lower income. This opens another question for policymakers of how do we address these gaps? The type of study that I do provides information to policy makers.
5. You have a 15-minute meeting with Public Health Reporter Andre Picard – what health policy or research topic would you discuss with him or want him to cover?
Thinking back on a recent seminar that I attended there were some very interesting conversations happening about pharmaceutical costs and Pharmacare in Canada. Although we have a publicly funded health care it does not cover the cost associated with pharmaceutical products. This contributes to the household catastrophic payment to health care. I think Pharmacare is something we need to talk about. We need to work on it and propose a strategy or plan so that there are less catastrophic payments to health care expenditure. We need to think about how we can have some form of universal pharma care for the people. This is coming just from my recent experience with the seminar, I can think of many other topics that could be covered. I could do a whole series of articles!
6. What advice would you give a junior colleague or student just starting their career?
If you want to do research, the best thing you can do is just start to write. Also, get involved with other people’s projects to learn from others. There are plenty of people you can collaborate with and learn from. Collaborating with senior researchers will provide learning experiences, even if you are only working on one section of the project you are developing skills. The best way to learn is being involved with other people’s projects and as well as writing down new ideas. Write a paper, even if you do not publish it, you are starting the first step to accomplishing research. If you have several ideas and just move from one topic to another, it does not help. You need to just focus in on one idea and develop it.
7. What would you like to accomplish with HPI over the next five years?
I would like to work with other colleagues at HPI, from writing a grant together to organizing different types of seminars or some form of a workshop. Something that benefits the HPI community, as well as the community of Dalhousie, and the Nova Scotia community at large. I would like to see HPI grow and become the Institute that everyone comes to, for example, policy makers. If they are looking to develop a policy regarding health promotion, they could come to HPI and ask for their help with answering a question or conducting research. I would also like to help make HPI become more identifiable.