Matilda Kerry Osazuwa is a former beauty queen and a medical doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). A co-founder of George Kerry Foundation, she is an epitome of beauty and brain. She gives an insight on her job and life as a medical doctor.
What does your job entail?
I am a medical doctor in the Department of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care at Lagos University Teaching Hospital as well as Founder of the George Kerry Life Foundation, an NGO established in 2007 that focuses on women’s health, cervical cancer, and breast cancer prevention in particular. We run an active cervical cancer control campaign. We go into communities, give awareness to women, and screen them against cervical cancer and for those who are found with the early precancerous lesion, we give treatment. We also run training programs for health workers, community nurses and traditional birth attendants. We teach them how to perform these awareness and screening, so that when we leave the community, it doesn’t end there as there is continuity and sustainability .
What is your typical daily schedule?
My days are always so busy because I have to juggle my work at LUTH and the work at the Foundation. I try as much as possible to organize myself for the week. I book my appointments and try to make provision for my time at the fellowship programme that I am currently undergoing which is very important. My daily schedule ranges from running clinics at LUTH, doing community immersions, urban/ rural immersions, to having screening exercise for the Foundation, treatment procedures at our Ikeja based office. We also do research work and conferences may come up for me to attend.
What qualifications/skills/qualities are required to be a medical doctor?
First and foremost, you have to be interested in sciences, then go on and study your MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) as a first degree. From there you can pick up other skills and trainings like the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) training that I got. And you can also get your Master’s degree. I have a Master; in Public Health that always helps, as I have more core knowledge of community medicine. Get further in it, by specializing in that field, like what I am doing with the fellowship programme. You have to be focused and know where you want to go, how much you want to go, how much you want to get out of your career and where you want to take it. I am looking at taking it to the pinnacle, which is why I am pursing so many things.
Why did you venture into Medicine as a profession?
Inspiration to study medicine first came from my dad because he was a doctor and a gynecologist; that sparked my interest in becoming a medical doctor myself. Taking part in the national beauty pageant, and the Miss World and Miss Universe pageant, I also learnt and became motivated to take on the charity angle – I learnt that you could do so much with your voice and your status and being a beautiful woman can be a stepping stone for you to do so many good things.
Can you share your journey into the beauty pageant?
Beauty is more of an intelligence thing mixed with the physical beauty. You cannot really take part and excel in the beauty pageants if you have only the physical beauty in this day and age. So with the intelligence mingled with the beauty, the carriage, which are things you can be trained to project and have, you can then venture into beauty pageants. It started when my sister brought the forms home and I was the only one who was free at that point, everyone else was getting ready for one thing or the other. It was just for the experience then it all happened so fast. It wasn’t a planned career. It happened and I just went with it. I won the national Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant (MBGN 2000) and I had the opportunity to go for the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. The experience was really interesting- I got to make friends internationally and learnt many social skills. It was quite enlightening.
What do you find challenging about your job?
Every day is a challenge. Nigeria itself is a challenge, so many things don’t work so one just has to find a way to make things work, you have to keep pushing. From giving the awareness, whether it is online, on radio or television, through flyers, there are challenges throughout: financial challenges, challenges of distributions, challenges of training people who want to speak on behalf of the project because one can’t do everything. Then the screening challenges, getting the materials, finding the people to screen and convincing them, treatment challenges etc, I can go on and on. But basically, that of funding, duplicated efforts among all the bodies that are championing the same course and finding ways of working together with these bodies so one can use fewer resources and get core results
What do you find exciting about your job?
If it wasn’t exciting, I wouldn’t be doing it. The challenges, the scope of the work, the enormity of the work that has to be done and then the little battles that I win along the way excites me. Sometimes I wonder about how I could achieve much with little resources and then I get help from the most unexpected places. And then it makes it easy for me to achieve what I set out to achieve, that itself is exciting! The women that get the education, the thanks I get back. So, everyday has a different kind of excitement that comes with.
What are your achievements so far and what gives you fulfillment?
I have received a few honorary awards, one on the fight against cancer from Pink Pearl Foundation and the Youth Role Model award from African Youth Society. Those were achievements but the fulfilling part is when you impact someone positively; like diagnosing a patient in the pre-cancer stage, providing treatment and knowing you have helped with preventing one woman from coming down with cervical cancer, which is a debilitating and horrible disease – that is really fulfilling.
A word of advice for young people
Just be brave and bold. Be yourself and enjoy what you do. That’s the only way you can put 100% into it. Even when it looks impossible, keep working at it.