Sakiinah: Providing Psychological Support for Burns Survivors in Mauritius

Sakiinah, one of the AAI Scholars from Mauritius

Sakiinah is a 4th year medical student studying at the University of Manchester. She was born in Mauritius and moved to the UK in 2016 to pursue higher education under the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.

When Sakiinah was two years old, her mother passed away of leukemia because of the lack of medical care available in Mauritius. She recalls that without a mother was not easy, but it is what initially sparked her interest in pursuing a career in medicine. Now, she wants to improve other people’s lives by providing access to health care provision.

She has a special interest in plastic and reconstructive surgery, mental health and education. Her kokorozashi is to help victims of burns, accidents, and birth malformations in Mauritius and also to contribute in the training of future doctors in the African continent.

“No one understands me better than my fellow Ashinaga brothers and sisters. I am hoping to try to bring burns survivors together to generate a similar bond,”

Her Ashinaga Proposal – her plan to positively contribute to society – is to provide psychological support for burns survivors in Mauritius. Currently, after a burn injury, there is no form of psychological support provided to burns survivors which impacts on their quality of life. After sustaining severe disfigurations, many patients lose their self-esteem, isolate themselves, suffer from mental health diseases and get rejected by society. Sakiinah’s aim is to create a platform for them to meet other burns survivors in order to share their experiences and support one another. Ashinaga has a similar philosophy of ‘orphaned students supporting orphaned students.’ After joining Ashinaga, she says she was blessed with a new family with whom she can relate. “No one understands me better than my fellow Ashinaga brothers and sisters. I am hoping to try to bring burns survivors together to generate a similar bond,” she says.

On her first research trip, she interviewed 15 burns survivors who shared their experiences with her and told her how their lives changed after their burn injury. When questioned, all of them would have wished to have some form of psychological support, and 80% were in favor of a peer-support program. Last year, she undertook another Ashinaga proposal research where she tried to introduce them to self-help cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a tool commonly used in the UK for patients with mild to moderate psychological trauma. She is still in the process of collecting the results to determine whether the outcome has been successful.

After graduation, she intends to specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgery to help victims of burns, accidents and birth malformations in Africa. Currently, there is a lack of plastic surgeons in Africa although the highest incidence of burns occurs in developing countries. Sakiinah aims to train young doctors in the management of burns and accidents, especially in an emergency setting. Without proper training and sharing of expertise, it will not be possible to improve healthcare.

Additionally, she wants to go on missions with organizations likes MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders) in countries torn by war. She wants to have an active and fulfilling contribution in saving people’s lives, especially in emergency and trauma situations.



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