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Koly, Dr. Kamrun Nahar

Associate Scientist
Urban Health
Health Systems and Population Studies Division
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Kamrun Nahar

“I want to contribute building a society where everyone is aware about their mental health needs, have access to relevant services that is readily available and affordable”

After becoming a physician, I realised, I want to be involved in something that can have greater impact for the lives of the people. This led me to pursue a career in public health and contemplating on an often stigmatised yet very vital aspect of human life - mental health and wellbeing. Sadly, in Bangladesh we give huge attention to our physical health, but very little to our mental health and wellbeing. Since 2014, I have worked on 15 mental health research initiatives covering various  vulnerable groups, such as adolescents, women, urban slum population and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and managed to drew more wider attention on this neglected issue.

I am trained in epidemiology, global mental health research methodology, systematic reviews, qualitative analysis, and implementing multi-country trials in low and middle-income country settings. I have published more than 20 articles in international peer reviewed journals and have also acted as a peer reviewer for different journals including JMIR, and Elsvier. In 2019, I completed my Masters in Global Mental Health from the King's College London, UK as a Chevening scholar sponsored by the UK Government.

I also consider myself to be a social activist and have been playing an instrumental role in raising mental health and wellbeing awareness among women in Bangladesh. The US Government supported me with a social initiative grant in 2018 to launch the "Women Support Initiative Forum (WSIF)", which aims to empower women with mental health care.

I am privileged to have many awards, some of which include, the 'Mental Health Team of the Year' by the British Medical Journal for South Asia in 2017. In 2021, I have won an award for the mental health related support I provided to women through WSIF during the Covid-19 pandemic by the United Nations Volunteer, Bangladesh. I was also selected as a global health mentor by International Global Health Mentorship to nurture future public health leaders coming from all over the world.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, in collaboration with A2i of Bangladesh Government, I have developed the first national-level mental health guideline for teachers who would act as psychosocial supporters for school-going adolescents. I also led the development of the doctors training manual and provision of psychosocial supports to the victims of the Narayangonj factory fire in 2021 with ths support of USAID.

Currently, I am leading the Bangladesh stream of a multi-country project entitled "Global dementias: Examining structural vulnerability and dementia outcomes,' funded by the Australian Research Council (2020-2023). This project aims to assess the sociocultural influences on dementia care-seeking patterns or management from both caregivers and patients perspectives.

Why I work at icddr,b:

icddr,b has recognised the importance of mental health and wellbeing and has been preparing me since the beginning to keep on working on this issue. My work in mental health has also influenced icddr,b to include mental health as a priority working area in the icddr,b 2019-2022 work plan.

Future Plans:

I want to continue working on mental health and to make it acknowledged, considered and included in the health system of the country.  


Masters in Global Mental Health, Kings College London and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

2018 - till date

Assistant Scientist, Health System and Population Studies Division, icddr,b


MPH, North-South University

2015 - 2017

Research Investigator, Health System and Population Studies Division, icddr,b

2013 - 2015

Research Officer, Centre for Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, icddr,b


Research Fellow, Centre for Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, icddr,b


MBBS, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh