Undergraduate Medical Student
Adebisi is an undergraduate medical student, who is committed to Emergency Medicine, specifically Disaster and Relief Medicine. She is also passionate about personal and professional development via the platforms of leadership and mentoring and has received formal leadership training and served in different positions in various organizations.
Adebisi has a strong interest in non-profit volunteering with an approximate 9 years of experience volunteering and is currently a volunteer manager. Her ultimate goal is to upscale the provision of Emergency Medical Services to medically underserved populations and to pioneer / expand access to Emergency Medical Training in African countries.
What inspired you to enter the World NTD Day Story telling competition?
I grew up in a slum city in Lagos, Nigeria. As you can imagine, it is an area with poor sanitation practices where only the rich had access to clean water and refuse disposal channels. I personally had experiences with Neglected Tropical Diseases having been treated for intestinal helminthiasis a few times but this story isn’t about me. Growing up in Orile, I frequently encountered child beggars who lived on the streets with their mothers. They moved in groups from one place to another begging for alms for themselves and their mothers who usually suffered from leprosy.
Because of this disease, they had been ostracized from their families and homes left to roam the streets for food. Needless to say, these children did not receive a formal education. The social stigmatization was such that people would not give alms to them if the children were not there to collect it for fear of contact with the mothers. Only in my third year in medical school did I realize how drastically altered the lives of those children were for a condition that has FREE treatment being provided by the Federal Government of Nigeria. NTDs are truly neglected in the sense that there are very few humanitarian and non- governmental organizations directed towards solving this problem in my home country. Finding this platform dedicated to solving the problem of NTDs, I was inspired to tell their stories.
Why does fighting NTDs matter to you?
As long as cases of these diseases remain, they remain a threat to the whole world. The fight against NTDs should not be a battle left to the poor, affected and marginalized populations who are the most affected because we all stand a risk of the reintroduction of the diseases even into communities who have previously eradicated them. One of the most interesting parts of medicine to me is disaster and relief medicine and how respectful healthcare services are distributed to victims of disaster. However, one of the biggest challenges of these populations is how easily they become victims of NTDs due to the rapid change in the socioeconomic status and infrastructural support even in previously elite communities. That is to say, the world is only one disaster away from an ‘NTD pandemic’ and it is paramount that we eliminate the reservoirs of these diseases as a preventative measure for our unpredictable future.
How do you intend on continuing the fight against NTDs after this competition?
Moving forward, I intend to continue this fight to the best of my capacity by raising awareness for this move against NTDs both online on social media and offline as I transition into medical practice as a doctor. I also intend to participate actively on the Youth Combating NTDs platform such as in social media campaigns and perhaps volunteer to lend my energy and skills as we tackle this problem. I also make a personal commitment to intervene on a case by case basis where I can, knowing what I know now, it is possible to direct and transport homeless leprosy victims to the Leprosy Homes where they will receive treatment paid for by the government and accommodation.
It is time to reprioritize the NTDs. In a country like Nigeria currently battling an economic recession, it is important to realise that a healthy, productive population is an invaluable resource to economic development. Poverty breeds more poverty as the poorest amongst us are more likely to not only suffer from NTDs but the complications of these diseases including physical disabilities, loss of jobs and livelihoods, abandoned education. Further propagating the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Ending the scourge of NTDs is a step in the right direction towards the social and economic development that we so deeply desire. I therefore call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to renew their commitment to ending NTDs by ensuring that proper funding and allocation of both human and material resources are made to the affected communities in this fight against NTDs. I also admonish them to provide socioeconomic support systems for the rehabilitation of disabled survivors of NTDs so that they and their families can be afforded a chance at a fulfilling future.