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Nigerian pharmacist with a passion for healthcare change wins prestigious Swansea scholarship

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A pharmacist who grew up in a community where access to basic healthcare supplies was a luxury has secured a scholarship to further her studies at Swansea University.

Lovelyn Obiakor says the desire to help improve public health in her home community of Eziama-Nneato in Abia State, Nigeria, has driven her passion for education and led her to successful application for the University’s annual Eira Francis Davies Scholarship.

A delighted Lovelyn is now looking forward to coming to Wales to study a MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science.

The full tuition fee scholarship is awarded to one outstanding female student per academic year. It was established in 2012 by the late Eira Francis Davies and aims to help women from countries whose economic, social and cultural background might present challenges and barriers to the realisation of their potential.

Swansea University’s Singleton Campus (Image: Swansea University)

Lovelyn said: “Seeing young children die from high fever and women die during labour were the most traumatising experiences of my childhood. I felt I had to do something about it, no matter what it took.

“As I was raised in a community where girls were not generally sent to school, I had to challenge the status quo to believe I could study pharmacy and one day help mine and other remote communities.

“This far-fetched dream to brave the odds and change the sad experiences of my childhood has been my motivation since I was 13.”

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Lovelyn’s determination led to her winning a scholarship to study pharmacy and she hopes to be an inspiration not only to girls in her community but also to parents who didn’t believe in sending their daughters to school.

She feels the master’s course will give her vital public health training she can use when she returns to Africa.

She said: “The Nigerian healthcare system is weak with inadequate healthcare promotion and poor access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

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According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the highest number of unimmunised children with vaccine-preventable diseases accounting for up to 40 per cent of all childhood deaths.

She said: “There are also gross inadequacies in research and statistics needed to inform health policies and plans.

“Strengthening the health system and its capacity is imperative for building a healthy country that can work towards developing other sectors and the economy. The master’s course offers a multidisciplinary and research approach to examining the determinants and helping to find solutions to global health challenges.”

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Lovelyn is now looking forward to coming to Swansea in September and enjoying the University’s multicultural diversity and the warm welcome it offers to international students.

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She added: “Living and studying in Swansea will also give me the opportunity to learn Welsh which is something I find very interesting and so captivating it also helped influence my decision to apply here!”

Lovelyn described the scholarship as the opportunity of a lifetime. She added: “I look forward to delivering on long-term, strategic projects and initiatives in Nigeria which promote inclusive and quality healthcare and education, contributing to the goal and objectives of Eira Francis Davies Scholarship scheme.”

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