supporting research in health

Dr Shalika Hegde received the Deeble Summer Research Scholarship supported by HESTA

The Deeble Summer Research Scholarship was awarded to Early Career Researcher Dr Shalika Hegde, Manager for the Centre for Value-based Oral Health Care at Dental Health Services Victoria, Melbourne. The scholarship is offered annually and has been backed by HESTA since 2017.


“This scholarship meant working alongside staff at the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA). It allowed me to produce an Issues Brief to help improve public dental services,” says Shalika.


The national policy brief that the scholarship enabled Shalika to write focussed on funding and policy reforms for public dental health services that will be required to achieve Value Based Health Care (VBHC) in Australia. VBHC is about improving patient outcomes without raising costs, or lowering costs without compromising outcomes, or both. Shalika will be exploring VBHC further in her doctorate.


Shalika is passionate about oral health. “Oral health is essential to overall general health and is fundamental to wellbeing and quality of life. Oral diseases share similar risk factors and clinical disease markers with major chronic systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” says Shalika.


“Most oral diseases are preventable, yet highly prevalent. Approximately $10.2 billion was spent on dental care in Australia in 2016-17. Dental conditions are the third highest reason for acute preventable hospital admissions in Australia. Expenditure on oral diseases ranks second highest after cardiovascular disease. How we use the existing funding to improve health outcomes is a critical aspect of VBHC. Unfortunately, significant policy differences exist between oral and general health care. I think there are abundant opportunities within dentistry to improve oral health for better health.


“The scholarship provided me with an opportunity to connect with national health policy leaders and be mentored by them in my field of practice,” says Shalika. “It also helped me to explore Australia’s health policy landscape and build my strengths further in evidence- informed policy development and translating research into strong health policy and practice.


“I would like to take this opportunity to thank HESTA for the scholarship. Working with Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association has been an invaluable learning experience and a professional developmental opportunity,” says Shalika.

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