Deepika Monga

Ballarat Specialist Women's Health
1015 Mair Street, Ballarat, Victoria

ph: 03 5333 5088

Printed in Enterprise Magazine, April 2007

Taking a career across countries

Twenty minutes into the interview with Deepika Monga her mobile phone rings – a baby is on the way so our chat comes to a sudden end.

The Indian-born obstetrician heads off to the birth, one of several thousand she has overseen in a career that began in New Delhi two decades ago.

“I did training in India then moved to Malaysia,” she said.

“The tropics beckoned and I worked with the Ministry of Health there for 10 years in hospitals which did 10,000 births a year.”

That was in Kota Bharu, the state capital of Kelantan on the Thai border.

Life was good there. Dr Monga, her anaesthetist husband Sanjay Sharma and their children now aged 15 and 12 had a maid and lived beside a beach.

But they still had a thirst for adventure and wanted their children to have access to top level education so they left the tropics behind to come to Ballarat where Dr Sharma had secured a position.

“Like a good Asian wife I followed my husband,” Dr Monga says with a laugh.

Although she was following, Dr Monga was confident the move would also be right for her career.

She was right.

After a short time she began work with Dr Ian Mayes at his Sturt St surgery.

“I was incredibly lucky to find Mr Mayes and I think Mr Mayes thought he was lucky to find me,” she says.

Ballarat has been her home for six and a half years now.

At Malaysia her work was divided between teaching, research, administration and clinical work.

Here, it is very much clinical work but Dr Monga is maintaining her interest in research, generally pursuing a single topic over the course of a year.

She has tested mothers’ iodine levels after concern in Australia that low levels could have a negative impact on baby’s development.

Last year she looked at wound infections after birth and found a link between infection, smoking and obesity.

“We started weighing mothers and putting them in touch with dietitians where necessary,” she said.

Dr Monga has noticed a change in Ballarat over the time she has lived here. She had been told on arrival it was a very “Anglo-Saxon” city and not to wear Indian clothes in public.

But she says the city has become more multicultural. There are Asian food sections in supermarkets, an Indian supermarket and people of other nationalities in the street.

“People are becoming more accepting that there is a wide variety of people in Ballarat contributing positively to society.”

The family can’t imagine leaving Ballarat now.

“Ballarat needs us and we need Ballarat, so I think it’s home now.”

P.S. After the phone call Dr Monga attended to the birth of a baby boy. “It went beautifully,” she said.

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