Shahinoor Akter

Shahinoor Akter

What are your research interests?

  • Qualitative and quantitative research in maternal health
  • Access to primary health care services, with an especial focus in lower and middle-income countries
  • Indigenous women’s health

Why did you get into research?

While working in an international organisation in my home country, Bangladesh, on maternal health issues, I revealed that there was a huge gap in evidence on underprivileged women’s health status, such as Indigenous women’s health. I wanted to explore what was the status of their health, particularly during pregnancy and delivery. To my surprise, I found that these gaps also exist in other lower and middle-income countries including Bangladesh. Therefore, I devoted myself to explore their status of health care service access during pregnancy and delivery. I was fortunate in that I received the UNIPRS and UNRSC 50:50 scholarship from The University of Newcastle in 2016 that provided my funding to conduct own project.

Currently, I am finalising my analyses and am focused on disseminating research findings through publications and presenting papers in conferences. I am involved in conducing systematic reviews on Indigenous women’s health issues such as smoking cessation during pregnancy.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

I believe my research will be the first time that the voice of the Indigenous women in Bangladesh will be heard to inform the policy- and will provide an opportunity to develop a more culturally acceptable health care system in Bangladesh, and will be an example for similar settings.


Shahinoor is a PhD candidate at The University of Newcastle. Her PhD topic to examine maternal health care services accessibility among Indigenous women in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. She is mainly a Social Anthropologist, and she also a fulltime Lecturer (Anthropology) at Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh since December 2015. Shahinoor had another master degree on Master of Public Health (Advanced) from Southern Cross University, Australia.

Shahinoor started her career as a social researcher at an international health research organisation, named ICDDR,B (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) in Bangladesh, and worked there between 2008 and 2015. Shahinoor’s works mostly focused on maternal and child health issues in overseas countries including Bangladesh. While working at ICDDR,B, she earned prestigious Australian Award Scholarship (known as AusAid scholarship) to pursue her a higher degree on public health in Australia in 2012. During her study in Australia, she conducted a qualitative research on identifying reasons for failure to attend follow up visits at a regional primary health care facility in Lismore. This research helped to shape her ideas and knowledge about Indigenous people’s attitude towards accessing the services, and to develop understanding the value of culturally appropriate health care services. This led her to pursue a PhD degree in Public Health (Gender and Health) as well.

During the course of her research career, Shahinoor was involved in both qualitative and quantitative studies. Her PhD project applied a mixed method approach through which she collected data from 438 Indigenous women in the remotest hilly areas of Bangladesh.

Shahinoor has also earned Higher Degree Research Teaching and Learning Internship at the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) in 2019, and is now working closely under mentorship of academic staff at the UON to develop further skills in teaching and learning. Her internship responsibilities includes assisting in course content development, facilitating class tutorials, developing and marking assignments, Blackboard online discussion platform and so on.

Future Focus

Maternal health has been a key focus in every global health manifesto including Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Unfortunately, previous manifesto missed addressing Indigenous women’s health rights, however, SDGs have focused on “Leaving no one behind”. My dream is to contribute in identifying and then eliminating the existing gaps those gaps, and to improve health services utilisation among Indigenous women and other underprivileged groups; make it a reality, not leave it as a dream.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Participant recruiting
  • Developing survey using RedCAP and Survey Monkey
  • Developing data collection tools
  • Data collection (both qualitative and quantitative)
  • Manuscript writing
  • Proposal writing
  • Teaching
  • Data software (Nvivo12, STATA15, SPSS)


  • Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh