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Meet our Emerging Leaders: Shiva Raj Mishra, 2017

What led to your interest in preventive medicine, who or what motivated you, what were the challenges you’ve been through.

Shiva: I am from Nepal, a small landlocked country located in the Himalayas. Being poor and resource-deprived, the country has also gone through a deadly civil war lasting a decade. Recently, the country is facing a double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Growing up as a teenager, it was natural that I acquired a deep interest in exploring the patterns and drivers of ill health that is affecting Nepal and all Nepalese. Today, I mostly work in primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

I also have a personal story… which is very trivial. My uncle died of a heart attack when I was 14. After just two months of my uncle’s death, my grandmother (who I was really close to me) died of kidney disease. My father has hypertension, and my mother is a mid-grade chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Being brought up in such family – I always wanted to know more about the non-communicable disease and help them.

Having a family history of hypertension and CVD, it would not be unusual if I have it too. When I was 24, right  before moving to Australia, I discovered that I have elevated blood pressure. Moving to Australia for study helped a lot to change my lifestyle and getting more physically active and pursuing a career in CVD research. Now, I am hypertension free, and NCD free too. Inspired by what happened to my grandmother, I pursued a research interest in kidney disease during my masters’ program at the University of Western Australia. For my late uncle and myself, I am doing a PhD exploring cardiovascular epidemiology.

How did you come across the EL programme and what made you think it was relevant for you to apply, who among the faculty you met inspired you the most and what did you enjoy most about the programme.

Shiva: I came to know about the Emerging Leaders programme when my dear friend Abhishek told me about it. Then I was in Nepal for vacation. But, I have known about the World Heart Federation for as long as I remember. When I started my master’s program, I came to know about Prof Salim Yusuf, through my professors at University. I went to search for his speech and videos and watch a couple of them. The one where he described tobacco and lipids just blew me up. It was really inspiring!

In the Eastern traditions (south Asia), it is said that having a good company (‘satsang’) is as important as having good knowledge. For so many years, I was working alone and doing studies with limited or no impact. I was longing for a good company, network or satsang, to implement studies that can have an impact on people’s lives. The Emerging Leaders programme provided such a good ‘satsang’ which will last long. Nowadays, I’m working together with my EL colleagues to write joint proposals for studies to advance research on CVDs in Nepal.

At the moment, I am working with the Nepal Development Society which is a Nepal based non-profit-organization working mostly on diabetes and hypertension management at the community level.