Avishek Hazra is a Senior Program Officer at the Population Council. He leads a large, multi-dimensional evaluation of multiple interventions with women’s self-help groups in India. In this role, he generates evidence around the effectiveness of health behavior change communication interventions through women’s groups in two large states – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India – on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition (RMNCHN), and documents the underlying processes in order to ensure and understand the intervention's fidelity.
With over 15 years of experience, Hazra has conducted evaluations of complex interventions and research in behavioral studies focusing on issues around RMNCHN, women's empowerment and mobile health (m-health). As a lead researcher, he also manages a large evaluation of effective interventions in three sectors that are fertile ground for outright labor exploitations – commercial sexual exploitation, the construction industry and overseas labor recruitment – in Bangladesh and India. As a study coordinator, he also played a crucial role in an Indo-US collaborative phase-3 contraceptive clinical trial across India that evaluated the safety and efficacy of a novel, user-controlled contraceptive method – the progesterone vaginal ring – developed by the Population Council. He led innovative operations research involving men in maternal care using m-health. His landscaping study, shaping demand and practices in family health behavior, led to the development of a comprehensive behavior change communication strategy, which consequently guided an innovative experiment of a health intervention integration within women’s groups. He was also part of a WHO-EVIDENCE supported systematic review on the impact of conditional cash transfer on contraception.
Before joining the Council in 2009, Hazra was a senior data analyst at the International Institute for Population Sciences, (IIPS) Mumbai, India, where he did extensive literature review on reproductive, maternal, child health and nutrition, and analysis of large-scale national level data sets. He also worked as a research officer at IIPS and provided technical assistance for preparing databases to estimate vital rates at the district level; developed a methodology that was converted into software for estimating vital rates below state level; analyzed Census and DHS data; and represented findings through GIS.
Hazra received the Government of India fellowship for pursuing MPhil and Government of India-NET fellowship for the PhD program. He received the prestigious Dr. C. Chandrasekaran award as an honor of ‘Young Demographer of the year 2008.’ Hazra has published about 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited books. He is member of several professional academic forums and ethics committees, and he served as a technical advisor to the World Health Organization.
Hazra holds an MSc in Statistics from Burdwan University, West Bengal, and MPhil and PhD in Population Studies from International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, a Deemed University under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. His MPhil thesis was on death registration completeness in India and his PhD thesis was in the area of healthcare financing.