University of Bedfordshire graduate helping to fight polio in Nigeria

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A Public Health graduate from the University of Bedfordshire is working towards eradicating preventable diseases like polio in her native Nigeria.

Rakiya Bello came to the UK to study an MSc in Public Health before graduating in 2014 and returning home to Nigeria.

She is now a cluster consultant with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has joined the fight to eradicate diseases like polio and tuberculosis from Nigeria, while encouraging people to get themselves and their children immunised against these diseases.

“I am involved in surveillance and health promotion activities, such as encouraging people to get immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases and encouraging people to report symptoms of other diseases, like measles and cholera, quickly so we can bring in measures to limit the spread of the disease,” said Rakiya.

“As a medical doctor, my passion has always been to contribute to finding lasting solutions to health problems, particularly in developing countries where public health issues are overwhelming. It is a great opportunity towards the realisation of my dream.”

Rakiya has fond memories of Bedfordshire and the support she received both in and out of lectures.

“I chose Bedfordshire because it is a multicultural environment with students from all over the world. I made friends with people from different countries and we are still in touch and we give each other advice when the need arises,” said Rakiya.

“Spending time with my course lecturers and friends were the most exciting moments for me at the University.”

Rakiya was also able to access the tailored support offered to international students at the University, which gave her skills she needed to succeed in the future, long after she graduated.

“I was able to attend workshops for international students, which helped me prepare my CV as my most unique selling point. These workshops also helped shape my analytical and critical thinking skills,” said Rakiya.

Rakiya’s mentor, Professor of Diversity & Public Health Gurch Randhawa, said: “Rakiya was committed to improving public health in Nigeria when she joined the University. The course equipped her with a range of policy and practical knowledge in relation to health protection. It was a pleasure to support Rakiya with learning and development opportunities in public health.”

Rakiya was able to study at the University thanks to the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, offered to a limited number of students from developing Commonwealth countries who wish to study the MSc Public Health.

“These scholarships are awarded to the University in recognition of the Institute for Health Research’s commitment to a research-informed curriculum,” said Professor Randhawa.