Master of public health student strives to improve community health

Aryan Azmi is committed to proposing and supporting health policy and promotion strategies that contribute to better health for all.

Belonging to a family of healers, master of public health student Aryan Azmi has been passionate about community health since day one. “My father is a physician, my mother a speech pathologist and my aunts, uncles and cousins are all physicians, dentists, physiotherapists and pharmacists. As I was pursuing my undergraduate education in kinesiology and health sciences, I discovered my interest in health promotion also.”

Combining his undergraduate degree with his passion for health promotion, Azmi helped conduct a study while at York University  that looked at interventions to increase physical activity levels, and ascertain which ones were the most effective in promoting health among university students. 

Now at the School of Public Health, Azmi recognizes that the pandemic has affected physical activity levels amongst University of Alberta students as well. “We have seen numerous reports of increased isolation, reduced physical activity levels and the increase in loneliness and depression among young adults,” explained Azmi. “The recommendations made in the York University study can be a great starting point for UAlberta’s effort to improve the physical and mental health of our students through an increase in their physical activity levels.”

Specializing in health policy and management, Azmi credits his previous research for putting him on his current path. Upon witnessing an interplay between policy and finance leading to reduced physical activity promotion, he realized the first-hand impact that health policy can have on his fellow community members. 

That spark led Azmi’s current interest and involvement in projects regarding healthcare financing and the economic evaluation of health promotion strategies. One of his current projects involves the economic evaluation of the Bridge Healing initiative. Proposed by Louis Francescutti, professor at the School of Public Health, this project is “an attempt to address the existing gap between the homeless being released from the emergency departments with no place to go and the current homeless shelters and permanent housing,” explained Azmi. 

As an emergency physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Francescutti sees a significant number of patients experiencing homelessness. Using a housing first concept, the Bridge Healing initiative can redirect patients away from frequent visits to the hospital by providing short-term housing and care while they recover, before transitioning them to a long-term, permanent housing solution. Through his involvement in this project, Azmi illustrates the initiative’s positive impact on public health, by reducing repeat visits, decreasing length of stays, and reducing hospital costs. 

Looking forward, Azmi aims to make an impact in his community by critically examining and improving upon the policies and health promotion strategies that affect each and every one of us. 


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