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30 juin 2020

Studying in France and Fighting Covid : Discover Aishatu's Story

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The trained epidemiologist Aisha Abubakar Sadiq was doing a research in Lyon (South West of France) for 1 year before getting blocked in Nigeria by the Coronavirus. She then decided to help Nigeria face the situation. Discover Aishatu’s story and her experience in France. 


In spite of the fact that you are supposed to be in France to conduct your PhD, you are now in Nigeria, fighting against covid-19. Can you tell us what happened?

I am stuck! I came back to Nigeria to conduct field work in the northern part of the country for my PhD sponsored by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). I am studying Vehicular emissions from road transport vehicles and its effects on communities in rural and urban areas of Nigeria. After arriving in Nigeria, I was able to conduct all my field activities, train health care workers and obtained all the data needed towards my thesis. I got stuck in March when the pandemic exploded! There were no flights to take me back to my university in France or to any other country in the world. I couldn’t even return to my secondary residence which is in Abuja and closer to the departing airport.

While waiting under lockdown, I was contacted by the leadership of the Federal ministry of health and the ministry of health in Kaduna state, requesting my support to assist with the COVID 19 response. I accepted. 


What are you doing to help the country against Covid-19?

As a volunteer, I support federal and state authorities by training nurses, doctors, hospital staff, local government officers on how to deal with covid-19 cases, how to organize controls at the borders, inform and get listened by the local population. The local staff then go to the field and put in practice what they learn. The purpose is to improve practices and reduce mobility and mortality from Covid-19 in Kaduna State.

I know the topic well enough because before going to France, I served in Kaduna as a lead epidemiologist and I was working on the responses to give in case of disease outbreak at local and federal level just like what is happening now with the Coronavirus.


When do you plan to go back to France?

As soon as flights resume, I will return to France to continue to work on my PhD.


Why did you choose France to do your PhD?

I won a three year fully funded scholarship by the PTDF in Nigeria of which I could have gone to China, Germany or France. I came to France because I was able to find an excellent supervisor along with a well-trained team in the same field of research. My affection for France also aided my decision. I have always loved art, theatre, architecture and cuisine. I love to cook! So when I researched and found out that Lyon was a city filled with culture and afford me the opportunity to learn and imbibe European art, I said yes!


 "Lyon is an affordable city. Transportation is the best, the system is even better than what I have encountered on many visits to the United States


Lyon France



How is your experience in France?

My university is located in Lyon. It is a sprawling metropolis and the second largest metropolis in France. Lyon is a beautiful city with a very large population of expatriates. This will afford you the chance to meet so many people with varying cultures and professions from different parts of the world, schooling at the university and working in so many International organizations.

Lyon is also an affordable city, giving you the opportunity to purchase whatever you want from Paris at an affordable rate. Transportation is the best, the system is even better than what I have encountered on many visits to the United States.

The University of Lyon has many campuses and my lectures take place in the University of Lyon 1. It is a very large campus with a lot of scientific departments. The staffs at the research institute I was posted to were very receptive and the supervisors were supportive, willing to discuss and provide guidance. I was provided with a quiet and private workspace along with all the tools I needed. My accommodation within the university was clean and comfortable. These entire put together, has made my stay great!


"The Lyonnais, the indigenous inhabitants of Lyon, spoke only French. Fortunately, the people I met were helpful and friendly and I am taking French classes offered by my University



How did you find the Language barrier?

I was shocked by the English language capacity of the residents. On meeting Europeans in a professional setting, you would find that they tend to have a good command of the English Language, I assumed that the case would be same in France. However, upon arriving in Lyon, I realized that the Lyonnais, the indigenous inhabitants of Lyon, spoke only French. Fortunately, the people I met were helpful and friendly and I am taking French classes offered by my University. This is a good opportunity to learn a language spoken by many people in Africa and in the whole world.


In 2 years, you will have finished your PhD in Lyon. What is next?

Even as I am doing a PhD in France, I am still working in the academic and health sector of Nigeria. After my experience in France I wish to come back to an English speaking country where I can use all my medical epidemiologist qualifications.



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