QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 83 - Page 23

Promoting E human rights in Scotland and Africa UNICE SINYEMU HAS had a varied and interesting career since graduating from QMU’s Institute for Global Health and Development in 2004. Her impact has been felt in Scotland where she helped change the culture of healthcare in relation to services for the growing African population; in London when she headed up the policy unit for the African Health Policy Network; and in Zambia where she worked in human rights and promoted access to HIV, TB and Malaria healthcare. The QMU graduate became a national voice in HIV and AIDS around the time that Scotland began receiving a lot of Africans. Between 2001 and 2011 the African population in Scotland increased from 5,000 to 30,000, many of them asylum seekers from countries with high rates of HIV such as Zimbabwe where they were fleeing from the harsh regime of Mugabe. She initially worked with Waverley Care in Edinburgh and undertook her dissertation on the topic of Africans with HIV in Scotland. This equipped her well for the area that would feature most prominently throughout her career – her work in improving healthcare for Africans with HIV and AIDS. Eunice Sinyemu, advocate for human rights and graduate in Social Development and Health After graduating, Eunice stayed on in Edinburgh to work with HIV Scotland. Her role helped break new ground during what was a changing cultural landscape in the NHS. She explained: “A significant percentage of African new arrivals and asylum seekers discovered, while living in Scotland, that they were actually HIV positive. This presented real challenges to health and social care services as there were significant cultural differences to overcome. Health professionals had very little experience of dealing with Africans, and at that time, there was literally no healthcare provision for Africans with HIV and AIDS in their home countries. People were trapped. They couldn’t return to their home country, even if they were able to, because there were no services or treatment in place to help manage their illness and that meant a certain death sentence.” It took some time for the health service in Scotland to adjust to the differences in cultural attitudes to healthcare. Africans had little experience of preventative healthcare, usually only seeking medical assistance once they had become extremely ill. However, Eunice’s role, as a first point of reference, enabled many people to access services for the first time and her work undoubtedly helped to save lives. During that difficult time, she, along with others in Scotland, became an advocate for the development of healthcare services for Africans and minority groups, working with agencies to develop appropriate health interventions and encouraging Africans to seek the right help. Her work assisted in changing the language that health professionals used in clinics which improved communication between healthcare workers and Africans. In addition, she influenced policy changes within her own organisation at the time, HIV Scotland. Over the years, Eunice experienced real challenges working in Scotland. She said: “At the time race relations was difficult because of attitudes towards mino &Gw&W2Bv0&&Rf"g&62F6V7W&RvBR'2( ХVFFVǒWV6^( 2v&vFvfW&W6&PBb66FB6G&'WFVBF7VGW&6gBBVVB&fRVFWF6W0f"g&626R6C( ėB2fW'6F6grFfRvFW76VBFRƖ76vW2FBF6R66FBB7&72FRTg&60&VvF&RfWvVB&R6FfVǒ@GFGVFW2Fv&B֖&Gw&W2&fVBआVgVǒ6VB'B&frFPVVB&7V7G2bg&6266F@&V6W6RbFRw&VGv&FBFBvFvfW&W6&R( ФgFW"ffRV'2vFb66FBWV6PfVBFFFFRFR&R0FWWG4TvFFRg&6VFƖ7WGv&vW&R6R66VG&FVBǐFVƗfW&rbBE2&WfVF&w&W2gFW"GvV'26R&WGW&V@FW"R6VG'b&F6&Rf"W FW"6RVvvVBFRFVG2bf֖ǒv66VFVB'&vrW"6G&VPbW"vF&VR&VFVBFf֖ǒBVv@g&FR66VGvF"vFFRfVFVW'2G&VFVBGf67@ƗFW&76v6Rv2G&r@66G7G&VwFVr6&FF"VFW FR&V7BE2B&vG2Ɩ6Rf 6WFW&g&6F2ffVBƖ6rvFFR֖7G'bVFV&vG2bD"B&77VW22WW&V6VBV&vG2Gf6FRWV6^( 262&Rvǒ6VvBgFW"g&66VG&W2BFRT6R&V6VFǐ&VvWr&RvFFRG&6VFBVGV6FG'W7BDUBv62G0VBff6RFWV6Rvv&g&Х&2G26VG'vW"vW&R6PvvRFRVF'FW'666VPv62gFW"F7F'2BW'6W2@f7W6W266G7G&VwFVrf"FPVF6&Rv&f&6R6RvfW'6VRFV 6VG'&w&W26VFrWG&F@&VF6VvVW&r&V7G2v6vVFWfVVF6&Rv&W'2vV6VB&WBFR7B&Wv&Fr'@bW"VGV6FB6&VW"FWfVVBWV6R6vW2WBW"FRBR6P66VFVC( גFR7VBBRv2FPvƖvBbגƖfRג66FWfVV@BVFFVw&VR&VFVB&7F6@6FV֖2v&fW'7V66W76gVǒv6&Vǐ'VBג62BvVFvRFR6fFV6PFBvVBBR2VVBR6V7W&PV&W"bvfǖr'2FRTBg&6RVVB6RגƖfRBfPV6F&RFgVf"( ) ՔRw&GVFRFW'fWp#P