Community Health Learning Program

Overview of the Program

The Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA) through School of Public Health Equity and Action (SOPHEA) offers a unique Community Health Learning Programme (CHLP). Initiated in the year 2003, it has evolved and grown in strength through a process of review and evaluation. In 17+ years, 500+ participants have transformed their lives and that of the communities they work with. Most of them have taken on senior and leadership positions in their organizations.  

The programme is unique as it encourages participants to explore the social paradigm of community and public health based on community needs and first-hand community experiences. 

Established mechanisms such as Academic and Research Council (ARC) for curriculum design and SOCHARA Institutional Scientific and Ethics Committee (SISEC) for review of research proposals support the programme. Participants will have access to the resource center at SOCHARA, Bangalore and a wide range of partners and networks. Mentorship and a person-centered approach to learning with a justice orientation to health are the core components. 

Participants conduct a community-based enquiry or initiate action on areas of felt needs in community health. These could include any one but not limited to following,

  1. Child Health
  2. Communicable Diseases
  3. Disability
  4. Geriatric Health
  5. Health and Environment 
  6. Mental health
  7. Non-Communicable Diseases
  8. Nutrition
  9. Pandemics (including COVID-19)
  10. Rural Health
  11. Sanitation
  12. Tribal Health
  13. Urban Health 
  14. Women’s Health

CHLP participants have returned with a rich experience to work in organizations across India and are working enthusiastically in community health.

The upcoming CHLP commencing from May  2023  prepares the participants for community health action during a post pandemic period and equip the participants to build appropriate strategies to tackle the emerging challenges. The duration of the programme is one year with 30 learning modules delivered through live online sessions and a community-based health action project to enhance the learning experience.

Key features

  • Part time- Participants can continue with their current employment
  • Blended learning- Weekly live classes with recordings made accessible
  • Mentorship- Continuous mentoring by experienced subject matter experts and community health practitioners through the programme and after.
  • Community based field projects- With the participant’s current organization or SOCHARA’s partner organization


The CHLP program structure and curriculum has been developed through a consultative process involving several community health/public health practitioners. It has been framed according to the Indian context and local needs. It provides an overall perspective to community based approaches and is guided by the principles of health equity and rights. The program has a rich set of learning modules which will cover core concepts of community health, linkages between community health and factors like globalization,climate change and culminating in understanding how to create a tangible impact. 

Understand Core Concepts

  1. Understanding community health
  2. Communitization of health
  3. Social Determinants of health
  4. Right to health and access to health care

Explore Linkages

  1. Mental health especially in the context of COVID-19
  2. Health movements
  3. Climate change and health
  4. Globalization and health

Create Impact

  1. Public health management
  2. Communication for health
  3. Health technology and innovation
  4. Fundraising and proposal writing
  5. Project management



Our faculty comprises a mix of community health practitioners and research scholars. 

Dr. Ravi Narayan – Founder: SOCHARA, Community Health Advisor 

Dr. Pruthvish S – Public Health Expert, Former HOD, Department of IC Community Medicine, M S Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore 

Dr Maya Mascarenhas – Consultant Trainer, NHSRC, GOI

Dr. K R Antony – Former Health and Nutrition Specialist for UNICEF and Former Director, State Health Resource Centre Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Augustine Velliath – Founder Director of the Asian Center for Entertainment Education and Chairperson of Mindshare Yuvah

Mr. SJ Chander – Founder, CEO, Foundation for Sustainable Health India (FSHI) and Consultant, Maya Health

Dr Rajeev B R – Community Dentist, Research Scholer and Former CHLP Fellow

Mr. Ravi Duggal –  Independent Researcher & Consultant

Dr. Ramani Atkuri – Independent Public Health Physician

Dr. Ravi D’Souza – Community Health Physician

Mr. Prasanna Saligram – Community Health Practitioner

Mr. Ameer Khan – Health Activist

Mr. Prahalad I M – Community Health Practitioner on Water and Sanitation

CHLP Team Members

  1. Dr. Thelma Narayan – Programme Director
  2. Mr. Karthikeyan- Associate Director
  3. Ms. Janelle Fernande- Associate Director
  4. Ranjitha L – Project Coordinator
  5. Karun Puzhamudi – Training and Research Assistant

CHLP Advisors

Dr. Thelma Narayan – Epidemiologist and Public Health Policy Analyst and Practitioner, Co-Founder: SOCHARA

Dr. Denis Xavier– Academician and Researcher, Professor of Pharmacology, St. John’s Medical College, Former Vice Dean (PG), St. John’s Medical College, Head, Division of Clinical Research, St. John’s Research Institute

Mr Gurumoorthy – Health Development, Secretary and Coordinator SOCHARA


1. Dr Adithya Pradyumna
2. Mr Ameer Khan
3. AS Mohammed
4. Mr Azam Khan

5. Mr Chander SJ
6. Mr Gurumoorthy
7. Dr Prabir Chatterjee
8. Ms Janelle Fernandes
9. Dr Denis Xavier
10. Dr Manjulika Vaz
11. Dr Maryann Washington
12. Dr Maya Mascarenhas
13. Dr Mohan Isaac
14. Ms Nidhi Shukla
15. Ms Padma Deosthali
16. Dr Priyadarsh
17. Dr Pruthvish
18. Dr Radhika Kaulgud
19. Dr Ravi Dsouza
20. Ms Vandana Prasad
21. Dr Subhasri
22. Dr Sunil Kaul
23. Mr Suresh
24. Dr Unnikrishnan


1. What does the Community Health Learning Programme (CHLP) offer? 

The CHLP offers an opportunity for young and mid-career professionals to deepen an understanding of community health and public health; and to experience its wider scope by actively participating in a community and learner-centric programme. 

2. What are the objectives of the CHLP? 

The CHLP is a postgraduate diploma programme. The objectives of the programme are to enable you as a learner: 

● To sharpen your analytical skills and deepen your understanding of the social paradigm of community health. 

● To broaden your understanding of socio-economic, political, cultural, and ecological inter-linkages to health and health systems 

● To strengthen your motivation, interest, and long-term commitment to community health 

3. For how long has this program been ongoing 

The program has been running since 2002 and has evolved in a phased manner through a process of review and evaluation. 

Since May 2022, SOCHARA has been accredited for the CHLP and MPH by the Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong, Meghalaya. For those who successfully complete the university requirements, this will be considered as a PG Diploma in Community Health and as the first year of the Master’s in Public Health Programme with a specialization in Community Health. 

4. What is the profile of the previous participants? 

Over 500 past programme participants have come from a wide range of disciplines.

These and the current eligibility criteria include: 

Graduates of Medical Sciences – (≥ 4-year Undergraduate) (MBBS, BDS, BAMS, BHMS, BUMS, Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences (BNYS), Bachelor of Siddha Medicine and Surgery (BSMS), Veterinary Sciences (BVSc.), Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Medical LaboratoryTechnology, Physician Assistant and other equivalent degrees. 

Postgraduates of Health Sciences, Community Health / Public Health, Social Sciences, Medico Social Work, Environmental Health, Demography, Population Studies, Nutrition/Dietetics, Psychology, Anthropology/Medical Anthropology, Microbiology, and other equivalent degrees. 

Graduates and Post Graduates in science, relevant social sciences including social work and community development, with demonstrated experience (a minimum of 2 years’ experience), and interest in Community Health. 

5. What are the previous participants doing now? 

Previous participants have contributed to community health in the voluntary, non-profit, government and academic spaces, and over time have taken on leadership or senior positions in different organizations in the health and development sector across India. 

6. I am not in the health sector, but interested in joining this program. Can I apply? 

Yes. Community health draws knowledge, skills and experience from diverse disciplines towards addressing health, development and equity issues, both at the community level and at other levels. If you are passionate about working long-term in the domain of community health, we encourage those from varied disciplines to apply for the programme. 

7. I am working for the government – can I apply? If so, should I get any

formal permission? 

Yes, you can apply. You will need to get a letter of permission from the concerned authorities. 

8. Is there a community-based project component in this program? 

Yes. The project component would be developed together with your mentor and your organisation (if you are working with an organisation in a community-based setting). It is flexible and need-based. 

9. What do I gain from the CHLP? 

Through CHLP, you will be exposed to the large canvas of community health. The programme will introduce you to the ‘social or community’ paradigm of health and to understand the various community health initiatives in the country. In addition, it offers you an experiential learning opportunity to take up a community-based health action project with any development organization including your current organization, and supported by a mentor. 

The group process provides a space to discuss, reflect, share experiences and learn from each other. The personal mentoring process during the programme ensures that you begin to internalize the community health approach along with getting guidance for planning your future course of action. 

You get to interact with experienced practitioners of community health, public health and health policy in the country. You will also have access to extensive resource materials on community health and development available on our digital platform and in our Community Health Library and Information Centre (CLIC). 

10. Who will my colleagues be in the programme? 

Participants in the program are from varying backgrounds, already working or with a keen interest in working in the health sector. They come from all regions of India.

11. What am I expected to do during the learning programme? 

You are expected to attend a 5-day orientation programme at SOCHARA, Bangalore. During the orientation, you will be engaged in understanding the concepts of community health, public health, the health system, health status in India and how health is determined by social, economic, and political processes. 

The curriculum includes 30 modules (+/- 2) over two semesters with 1,200 hours of learning over 12 months. 

You must attend a two-hour online live session twice every week. The session dates and time will be decided based on the convenience of the majority of participants. The timing would be in the evening hours (last year, the sessions were held from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Guest lectures/ reflection sessions/ lived experience sessions will be a part of these online live sessions. 

You will be expected to take up a specific community-based project based in an area of interest during the course of the programme. The project can be undertaken in the geographic area where you are based and in the current organization you are working. SOCHARA will provide all the support through their partner networks for the community-based project if required. You are expected to submit a reflective and analytical report of your work before the end of the programme. 

Further details will be given during the orientation. 

12. Is there any group work? 

Yes, there will be small group work undertaken virtually, with presentations during the live sessions. 

In our experience group work has proven to be an excellent cross-learning opportunity for participants. 

13. What is the duration of the programme?

The duration of the programme is 12 months, inclusive of holidays. 

14. When does the programme begin? 

The programme begins on the 1st of August 2024. 

15. Is it a full-time or part-time programme? 

It is a part-time hybrid programme, and you can continue with your current work. 

16. How many hours per week should I devote to the program? 

Participants will have to dedicate more than 10 to 12 hours/week to the programme. 

There will be additional assignments for each module and a community-based health action project for approximately 3 months. 

17. What are the programme fees? 

The learning program costs are 1,15,000. We offer scholarships to deserving candidates on a case-by-case basis. 

The selected candidates are encouraged to keep their organisations informed and this could well be part of the personnel/ staff development policies of the organisations. 

18. Do I have to be based in SOCHARA, Bengaluru for the duration of the programme?

This is a hybrid programme with both online and in-person sessions (in Bengaluru) along with community-based health action projects carried out by participants in their geographies. 

You will be required to be at SOCHARA, Bengaluru for the orientation sessions titled Community Health Changemakers Confluence (CHCC). The duration of the CHCC will be 5 days, scheduled provisionally in the 1st week of September 2024. The travel cost will be borne by participants and the accommodation and food costs will be partially borne by SOCHARA. 

There will be a 2nd in-person session held in Bengaluru at the end of the programme. We will announce the dates for it well in advance for the Fellows to plan

19. Can I discontinue the programme at any time? 

We encourage you to apply only if you are sure of being a part of this programme for one year. We acknowledge that unanticipated circumstances can occur which may force you to take a break or discontinue. We will provide as much support as possible in that situation to make it possible for you to complete the programme. 

There will be no refund of payments that have been made 

20. What kind of support will be provided after the programme? To continue the learning process, mechanisms are in place for networking between participants, and between participants and SOCHARA. These include alumni e-groups, 

circulation of newsletters, background papers, reflections, research outputs, etc. In addition, the participants can keep in touch with SOCHARA team members, society members of SOCHARA, friends and associates who are located in different parts of the country and the world. 

There is also a need for continued learning and strengthening knowledge, attitudes and skills developed during the programme.

21. Does one receive a certificate after completion of the programme? 

Yes, the CHLP is now accredited as a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Community Health by Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU), Shillong. If the criteria for accreditation are met and are up to the required standards, you will be eligible for a PGD certificate. 

22. How do I apply? 

A. Apply online through the Google Form which is provided. 

B. Upload a statement of purpose (SOP) as to why you want to join the programme. 

C. Upload your latest updated CV. 

D. Provide contact details of two referees 

23. How to write a Statement of Purpose (SoP)? 

A SoP is an essay which mentions who you are, your educational background, and work experience. 

Importantly it must explain your intent to do the programme and how it will benefit you and the work you do. It should be a compelling document and help the selection committee to get an idea of you as a person and your intent to do this programme. Please note that it must be in a Word document using Times New Roman, font size 12, with a minimum of 600 and a maximum of 1000 words (not counting spaces). Overall, it must be a sincere document written by the applicant in simple language. If necessary, you can contact the CHLP core team for clarification. 

24. What is the importance of the SoP? 

Your SoP is an important document. The suitability of the applicant is largely based on the SoP. We recommend that you spend ample time preparing one.

25. How do I know if I have been selected? 

All applications sent to SOCHARA go through a screening process. We will get back to you immediately after your application has been screened. If your name is short-listed, you will need to attend an interview, which will happen virtually. We will communicate the final selection shortly thereafter. 

26. Whom do I contact for more information? 

Please write to 

You can call us at +91- 90378 17721. Please call us between 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, between Monday to Friday.