Alum improves HIV and AIDS outlook in Nigeria

News news

Public health expert Chikaodili Mary-Kate Deng (MPH 2009) has been recognised with a Study UK Alumni Award for her contribution to care systems for HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

Chikaodili was named the national winner in the Social Impact category in France. Study UK Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of international students who have studied in the UK.

A public health expert and data analyst, Chikaodili has monitored the epidemiological trend of HIV prevalence, and contributed to the development of coherent health programs and services to save lives in Nigeria.

“Being a winner means a lot to me and my career,” said Chikaodili. “But recognition of the social impact of my work also inspires me to do more.”

Leeds was crucial in teaching me independence and important problem solving skills

Chikaodili Mary-Kate Deng (MPH 2009)

A lasting impact

Early in her career, Chikaodili volunteered on several health projects in Nigeria – including national immunisation programmes for polio, and HIV counselling, testing, communication and prevention. She worked for non-government-organisations to help design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate HIV and AIDS prevention and palliative care support programs.

“But I wanted to be able to contribute more to developing countries like Nigeria,” she said. “So I decided to study at Leeds. That was crucial in teaching me independence and important problem solving skills. I wish to express my profound gratitude to the University for helping to refine my critical and creative thinking abilities and providing invaluable knowledge for translating research into practice.” Already holding vast practical experience in the field, studying at Leeds helped Chikaodili understand how to increase the impact of her work. 

On graduating, Chikaodili secured a job with a joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS as a national programme officer in Nigeria. She progressed to an advisory role, supporting annual reviews and evaluation of state level programs. “It’s important that services are considered within the cultural, behavioural, and economic context of each country. That’s what we’ve helped to implement in Nigeria.”

Chikaodili also has an interest in the ethical use of data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She was a member of the winning team at the Goethe Institue in the “AI to Amplify” hackathon – a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program – and has begun to consider how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to solve real-world problems. 

Now in its tenth year, the British Council Alumni Awards received more than 1,450 applications from international UK alumni from more than 90 countries, representing over 140 UK higher education institutions across the nation.

Further information

Read more about the British Council Alumni Awards in France on the British Council website.

For further information and media enquiries, contact Ed Newbould, Digital Communications and Engagement Officer, via