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Tuesday 24 November 2020

Inspiring UCLan medical student joins international campaign to champion world health

Fourth Year Sai Pillarisetti has been highlighted in the new Health Legends campaign

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) medical student is to feature in a new campaign in Lancashire to highlight the growing importance of global health in keeping people safe.

The Health Legends initiative showcases the dedication of individuals from around the world who are passionate about improving health of people in their communities and beyond and fourth year Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) student Sai Pillarisetti has been chosen.

The campaign and website will feature Health Legends from the UK but also those from around the world, showing the similarities health workers share regardless of where they work.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how our health is connected and by sharing their own personal experiences, Health Legends like Sai hope more people will be understand the importance of good health both locally and around the world.

Originally from India, Sai moved to Lancashire in 2017 and was inspired to study medicine at UCLan after watching both his grandmothers suffer from breast cancer.

As part of his training, he spends a great deal of time working in Accrington PALS Primary Health Centres and the Accrington Victoria Community Hospital.

The Founder and President of the British International Doctors Association Student Wing said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in India. Due to a lack of awareness and the absence of an organised screening programme, more than half of patients only come to the doctor when the disease is in the advanced stages. Most succumb to the illness within a year of being diagnosed.

"I believe that if we work together, healthcare systems around the world can keep everyone happy and healthy, regardless of geographical location or economic status"

Sai Pillarisetti, fourth year Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery student

“The opposite is true in Western countries. I believe that if we work together, healthcare systems around the world can keep everyone happy and healthy, regardless of geographical location or economic status.”

Health Legends is supported by a group of organisations working on global health including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, THET, Students for Global Health, The ONE Campaign, Global Citizen, Restless Development and Malaria No More.

Gareth Jenkins, Director of Advocacy for Malaria No More and Spokesperson for Health Legends, commented: “From caring for patients on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic to supporting humanitarian projects around the world, these Health Legends all care deeply about helping their communities but also about the importance of good health and strong health systems on a global scale. Keeping our own local communities safe involves a global effort to stop the spread of viruses and diseases and by working together, we can do our best to protect everyone.”

Professor Cathy Jackson, Executive Dean of UCLan’s Medical School, said: “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic means these are challenging times for all associated with the NHS and healthcare systems around the world. However, I believe there is cause for optimism. By working in partnership, and through taking a holistic approach to healthcare, our new generation of doctors are already making a difference and Sai is a fine example.”

Working with the Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit Breast Cancer Charity in Hyderabad, Sai played a key role in the development of a breast healthcare app, ‘ABC’s of Breast Health’, which is available in English and 11 regional Indian languages. The app is designed to ensure that information relating to breast health is accessed by women in rural India and demystifies many of the common myths surrounding the disease ensuring that users are well informed with accurate information.

Professor Jackson added: “Sai's work in developing a breast health app in a bid to help reduce breast cancer both in the UK and India is a fantastic idea which embodies the culture on our MBBS programme to teach students to look at, question and add to the evidence base of medicine both in practical and research fields.”

Sai has written a blog post on the Health Legends website about why he’s taking part.

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