Background Building on a distinguished history of community medicine training, public health programs have been expanding in India in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional attention to the importance of public health programs and the need for a strong workforce. This paper aims to assess the current capacity for public health education and training in India and provide recommendations for improved approaches to meet current and future public health needs. Methods We conducted a desk review of public health training programs via extensive internet searches, literature reviews, and expert faculty consultations. Among those programs, we purposively selected faculty members to participate in in-depth interviews. We developed summary statistics based on the desk review. For qualitative analysis, we utilized a combination of deductive and inductive coding to identify key themes and systematically reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of each theme. Results The desk review captured 59 institutions offering public health training across India. The majority of training programs were graduate level degrees including Master of Public Health and Master of Science degrees. Key factors impacting these programs included collaborations, mentorship, curriculum standardization, tuition and funding, and student demand for public health education and careers. Collaborations and mentorship were highly valued but varied in quality across institutions. Curricula lacked standardization but also contained substantial flexibility and innovation as a result. Public sector programs were perceived to be affordable though fees and stipends varied across institutions. Further development of career opportunities in public health is needed. Conclusion Public health education and training in India have a strong foothold. There are numerous opportunities for continued expansion and strengthening of this field, to support a robust multi-disciplinary public health workforce that will contribute towards achieving the sustainable development goals.
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