Stevenage junior doctor’s trip of a lifetime in bid to improve healthcare in developing countries
- Credit: Archant
A junior doctor on a mission to improve healthcare in developing countries is taking a giant step towards realising his dream.
John Ndikum specialised in internal medicine at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital for two-and-a-half years, before leaving in January this year to begin a new chapter of his life.
Dr Ndikum is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Stevenage to study for a masters degree at the Yale School of Public Health in America.
Together with his wife, occupational therapist Sophie, the 31-year-old flies out on Monday on a trip of a lifetime which will see him undertake an intensive one-year course, with the ultimate aim of helping to improve healthcare in developing countries.
Dr Ndikum said: “I was born in Cameroon, where – as the son of an entrepreneurially-minded father – I had access to the best education the country could provide.
“I enjoyed my time in my native country, but an unstable economy led my father to migrate to England when I was eight, which really was as unsettling as it sounds.
“But the values that had been drummed into us from a young age migrated along with us, permitting a seamless transition into Britain’s education system and allowing us to thrive.
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“It was this work ethic and dedication to academic excellence, combined with a deep desire to contribute to my fellow human beings, that led me to apply to medical school.”
He graduated from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2010 and, not one to be complacent, after a few years Dr Ndikum began to look for the next challenge.
He said: “Slowly, my career aspirations began to change from a focus on individual patients to one on the health of communities.
“Fortuitously, it was around this time that the opportunity to apply to Yale’s School of Public Health came up and I seized it, spending as many as three hours a day for around three months on the application alone.
“I was elated when the email of my admission arrived, and excited at the opportunity provided – to one day be able to contribute to many in one fell swoop; what I call ‘a knockout contribution’.
“It’s surreal. There’s fear, as well as huge excitement.
“It’s going to be intense, but fun, and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I see it as an environment where the impossible becomes possible.”
The couple, who only married in March, have been spending time setting up their new life on the other side of the Atlantic, from finding accomodation to making friends.
Dr Ndikum – who has enjoyed writing poetry since he was 13 and last year had a book, Words of a Feather, published – said: “It’s what we consider to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
“The world is full of inequalities and nowhere are these more apparent than in the health of populations, and the individuals of which they are comprised.
“To my mind, inaction is tantamount to complicity and I cannot sit here and do nothing while a large proportion of the planet’s population is deprived of the right that is good health.
“It is the goal of finding solutions to this problem that leads me to invest literally all of my resources to be educated by some of the best thinkers on the globe.
“Growing up, I had the privilege of good health. It is only fitting that I should now strive to make the same accessible to as many people as is possible.
“A nation with an ailing population can never prosper. I see my upcoming education at Yale, therefore, as the first steps towards healing the health of populations around the world.”
He added: “I’m so grateful to the Rotary Club of Stevenage. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
“I hope to be a role model from a minority background for people who wouldn’t think they could do something like this.”