School of Biomedical Sciences

Chido Dziva Chikwari

Chido Dziva Chikwari

BSc Biomedical Sciences with Business - Graduated July 2013 with 2nd Class, lst Division Honours

Current Position: Research Assistant, Biomedical Research and Training Institute, Zimbabwe

I have always had a passion for my country, Zimbabwe, and the plight of my people. Centre to this is the crippled health care system which is so broken down that in order for people to get specialised medical treatment many Zimbabweans have to travel across borders to countries such as South Africa. It is only those that can afford this who have the chance of survival when faced with terminal illnesses like cancer.

Circumstances such as the cholera outbreak in 2008, the HIV pandemic that has crippled Southern Africa and my mother suffering a severe stroke in 2010 led me to ask the question, 'What can I do?'

The first step was getting educated and equipped with the necessary skill sets. My university of choice was Newcastle University and I wouldn’t have chosen any other institution to enrol with.

Newcastle is renowned world over for its large research portfolio and is also a member of the elite Russell Group. In 2010 I started my Undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science with Business. The three years I spent at Newcastle were both exciting and academically vital.

After graduation I returned to Zimbabwe where I volunteered with a small UK charity, GlobalGivingUK, for three months visiting charitable organisations they support around the country. This was a truly eye opening experience that helped me reintegrate into Zimbabwean society and increased my appreciation of some of the real challenges that people face.

Soon afterwards I landed a job with one of the most recognized research institutions in the region, Biomedical Research and Training Institute, as a Research Assistant on an HIV prevalence study in adolescents.

It’s is important to note that when last reported Zimbabwe's unemployment was very high at more than 70% with less than 900 000 people formally employed out of a 13 million population. I can confidently say that one of the major contributing factors to attaining this post was my academic background at the University of Newcastle.

I spend most of my time at Primary Health Care Centres in high density suburbs working directly with children infected with HIV and really am passionate about my job and the contribution I am making to health care in Zimbabwe.

I have also been fortunate enough to secure funding for my Master’s degree and if all goes according to plan I will be commencing my MSc in Epidemiology with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine this September.

All the above ties into reaching my goals and it is undoubtable that Newcastle University served and such an exceptional launching pad for my career in medical research.