Young Scholar of the Month (January 2024)

A special welcome to January!

The academic hive scholar for this month is Rhoda Asuquo. Every month, we spotlight young researchers proffering solutions to their field of research interest. Rhoda has gained remarkable academic excellence and has gone through many academic quests.

Here are some of her academic awards:

  • Certificate of Participation: Summer Institute In Computational Social Science (SICSS Calabar) 2023
  • Award on Leadership and Excellence: Ibusa Youth Forum Organization of Leadership Initiative and Operation Groom Them Young
  • Award for true spirit of workmanship and dedication: Jesse Global Foundation
  • Nation Builders Training: National Youth Service Mentorship Forum
  • Leadership, Girl Child Initiative and Entrepreneurship: She Leads Africa
  • Certificate of Participation: The Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health for a 7-day capacity building for health workers in medical emergencies.
  • Award of Recognition: Dare Africa Foundation for Youth Support and Development 2020.
  • Award of Recognition: Kedi Health for supporting women’s health in 2021.
  • Certificate of Participation: Ideation Hub in African Master Class Training Series 1 and 2

Rhoda graduated from Lugansk State Medical University, Ukraine, where she was awarded a doctor of medicine degree. She is a founder of The Sickle Cell Warriors’ Care and Healthy Living Foundation (SWAHLF) and is currently serving as a senior medical officer with the Akwa Ibom State Hospital Management Board.

Her research interest is in finding solutions through early detection of, causes, and progression of these sickle cell diseases; a better palliative care approach to children living with sickle cell and cancer, number of unregistered expectant mothers as well as developing policies for better health outcomes in her country.

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How does your research benefit your community?

 As a medical doctor passionate about promoting health amongst children and expectant mothers, health insurance is ideal for children, especially those with life-changing conditions like sickle cell, cancer, and other chronic disabilities.

Through my research work, a comprehensive database of children suffering from sickle cell disease and cancer, incorporating vital genetic information, will be built. This database will significantly improve treatment outcomes by providing a tailored approach to healthcare.

I am focusing on precision medicine in childhood palliative care for chronic conditions, including cancer, sickle cell disease, and pediatric infections. Her research will help in proper chronic pain management and strategies to mitigate frequent complications in children suffering from these conditions, with a special emphasis on the unique genetic composition of the African child.

Briefly explain the ‘Sickle Cell Warriors’ Care and Healthy Living’ Foundation?

The Sickle Cell Warriors’ Care and Healthy Living Foundation (SWAHLF) is a non-governmental organization founded in 2018 and duly registered with a league of professionals as team members. It is affiliated with the Sickle Cell in Africa Patient Parent Network and the Sickle Cell Consortium.

SWAHLF works in partnership with other organizations to solve problems associated with sickle cell disorder and poor health choices. Their vision is to alleviate the burden of sickle cell disorder and reduce death to the barest minimum from avoidable health conditions in African communities by 2030.

How does the foundation benefit the community?

The foundation plays a crucial role in:

Awareness and Education: We educate the community about sickle cell disease, its causes, symptoms, and available treatments. This helps reduce the stigma and misconceptions surrounding the condition.

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Support Services: SWAHLF offers support services to warriors and families affected by sickle cell disease, including counseling, support groups, and financial assistance.

Advocacy: Sickle Cell Warriors ‘Care and Healthy Living Foundation advocates for policies that enhance healthcare services for those with the disease. This may involve pushing for improved access to healthcare, insurance coverage, and specialized medical facilities.

Community Building: We facilitate connections among individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease during their monthly support meetings, fostering a sense of community.

Early Detection and Screening: SWAHLF often supports programs promoting early detection and genetic screening, e.g., during World Sickle Cell Day, helping identify carriers of the sickle cell gene, and providing information for family planning. We make radio announcements and health talks online to reach a larger audience.

What were some culture shocks for you as an international student, and how did you overcome them?

A major part of Ukraine does not speak the English language, which was a huge barrier for me as an international student in Ukraine. Learning as a school course was not enough; I had to make the acquaintance of the locals to have basic conversations, especially with patients, during my final clinical year in school.

What are your challenges as an early-career scholar?

One of the major challenges I faced as an early-career scholar was funding. Funding is so limited and worse with my research interests. Building a research profile has been quite challenging, and finally, time management. Having to juggle between my career as a medical doctor and research.

What is your advice to other international students and young researchers?

Opportunities can be found in unexpected places. Be open to learning from people and situations that may seem outside of your comfort zone or area of expertise.

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You can reach Rhoda on LinkedIn Rhoda-Asuquo

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