Pharmacist and health advocate Odwa Mkiva, 25, is dedicated to global health equity. Growing up in rural South Africa, she is well aware of the difficulties faced by marginalised communities when it comes to accessing quality healthcare. The experience she gained during her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Rhodes University, her internship and in community service in public health hospitals has given her firsthand knowledge of the realities of the healthcare system. Odwa is part of the final cohort of the BeyGOOD x Global Citizen fellowship programme, where she serves as a digital campaign fellow for the organisation. Her passion for public healthcare, gender equality and quality education is reflected in her volunteer work with non-profit organisations such as Slum2School Africa, where she is a medical support volunteer. Odwa is a participant in the Aspire Leaders Program 2023, founded at Harvard University in the US. “My passion for global health equity is at the forefront of my work, where I strive to address health inequalities by providing the best pharmaceutical care and by incorporating African languages in patient counselling to bridge language barriers. I recognise the importance of cultural sensitivity and linguistic diversity in healthcare delivery,” Odwa says.
- Bachelor of Pharmacy, Rhodes University
- I was selected to be part of cohort 16 of the Young African Leaders Initiative Program for the Civic Leadership track. This program is an effort by the US government to invest in the next generation of African leaders.
- I was selected to be part of the Aspire Leaders Program 2023 founded at Harvard University.
- I was selected to be part of the final cohort of the BeyGOOD X Global Citizen Fellowship which consists of 15 fellows from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
My mother’s caring nature and her unwavering commitment to helping others. Her spirit of Ubuntu was infectious and it inspired me to always work towards building up those around me. I carry this lesson with me every day, offering a helping hand and ensuring that people feel seen and heard. Knowing that I can make a positive impact on someone’s life is the most heartwarming feeling and it all started with my mother’s loving example.
I would tell my younger self to continue to dream big and to always give her 100% effort in everything she does. Finally, to always be kind and empathetic.
I envision a future in South Africa that prioritises the empowerment of young people and provides them with ample opportunities to participate in decision-making processes and influence policy changes. In the next five years, I would like to see a country that is committed to addressing the grassroots issues that affect ordinary South Africans, particularly in the provision of healthcare, education and access to information. To bridge the gap of inequalities, it is crucial for South Africa to invest more in the younger generation and allow them to contribute to the country’s growth and development. By doing so, South Africa can create a more inclusive and prosperous future, where every citizen can enjoy equal opportunities and live fulfilling lives.