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How family tragedy drove this student’s desire to improve healthcare in her community

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The unnecessary death of a much-loved relative has driven Bethel Ohanugo’s passion for improving healthcare in her native Nigeria.

Now she has gained a place at Swansea University which will allow her to continue her studies in the growing field of health informatics.

Bethel Ohanugo is the latest recipient of the University’s annual Eira Francis Davies Scholarship and begins her studies in Swansea in the autumn.

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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.

During her undergraduate degree, Bethel studied microbiology where she took courses in health data and bio-informatics. This has led to her applying for the MSc in Health Informatics in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science.

She said: “My aunt was misdiagnosed at a hospital because of the lack of automation in handling her health data. She died in her prime shortly after.

“More errors of this nature will inevitably occur as Nigeria’s population grows at an ever-increasing annual rate, due to a lack of health staff to meet the needed nationwide coverage. Health informatics in Nigeria is an emerging field and there is a low level of awareness of its benefits.”

Currently working as a clinical data specialist, Bethel, who lives in Lagos State, is involved in projects to evaluate and validate data collected in ongoing clinical trials around the world.
She said she chose to apply to Swansea because of its reputation for excellence in both taught and research-based courses in her chosen field.

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She said: “I believe this department fits my career aspirations as we share the common goal of providing innovative solutions to healthcare delivery.

“By introducing automation, error rates in treatment and prescriptions would reduce drastically. This would be beneficial to the recipients of healthcare and will improve the declining quality of life amongst Nigerians.”

Bethel says the master’s would help her achieve her career aim of establishing a health informatics consultancy providing outsourced products and services as well as health information systems.

“This would help medical institutions gain better patient outcomes and efficiency.

“Getting this level of education will give me an edge, not just to create job opportunities but also to encourage others to take an interest in this field while saving lives.

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“With an unemployment rate estimated to reach 35 per cent by 2023, I feel compelled to improve the narrative in Nigeria and be a part of the change I want to see.”

Bethel says being awarded the scholarship will be life-changing for her.

“My parents sacrificed everything to ensure I went to university. I come from a lineage where women’s education is considered a privilege and being able to further my studies is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I might not be able to achieve on my own.

“When I consider the significant strides that the previous scholarship winners such as Lovelyn Obiakor have taken, I am reminded that I, too, can accomplish great feats.”

She is now looking forward to life in Swansea.

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“A huge part of my Nigerian identity is having parents who come from different tribes. This helps me to embrace cultural diversity in any setting I find myself. Applying to Swansea was an easy decision to make because of the rich and distinctive culture of Wales. I consider it an honour to join a community that accepts my heritage while I learn more about theirs.

“I now look forward to Swansea University being a part of my story.”

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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