Posted Thursday 14 May 2020
A Kingston University pharmacy student has been raising awareness of the role people with disabilities are playing during the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure they don't face barriers getting to and from work.
Alongside her studies, Osayuki Igbinoba has been working as a pharmacy adviser in Croydon throughout the pandemic.
The third year pharmacy student, who had both legs amputated above the knee when she was 16 months old at Great Ormond Street Hospital, wears prosthetics at work and uses a wheelchair on her commute. Having taken up her community pharmacy role before the outbreak to gain more experience, Osayuki has been helping provide the public with over the counter medications and prescriptions throughout the lockdown.
"The pharmacy's team has been playing a hugely important role during the past few months," the 21 year old from Abbey Wood, South East London, said. "People still need to get medication and, with the reduction in the availability of GP appointments, it's been busier than normal. You feel like you're really helping make a difference.
"I wear a mask and gloves and the pharmacy has installed plastic screens to help protect us. I'm aware of the risks that go with a public-facing role at this time, but I try not to think about it too much and just focus on what we are able to do, which is provide a much-needed service for people.
"We're dealing with a lot of queries, both over the phone and in person, and I've really enjoyed being able to put into practice what I've learned during the course and help people get the medicine and advice they need. Pharmacies are providing a vital service and it really brings home why I chose to follow this career - to help those who need it most."
Having personally encountered accessibility difficulties on her commute since moving back home from her halls of residence, Osayuki, who is a Scope for Change campaigner, has been raising awareness of the importance of ensuring key workers are able to access transport services regardless of any disability. After sharing her experiences on social media and writing to her local MP, Abena Oppong-Asare, and Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson, she welcomed an open letter from Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to the rail industry asking them to ensure train travel remained accessible during the outbreak.
"I've had to overcome a lot of barriers in my life," she said. "I just want to ensure disability doesn't prevent people from fulfilling their roles as key workers at a time like this."
Head of Kingston University's Department of Pharmacy Professor Reem Kayyali said community pharmacy teams were one of the key healthcare services that had maintained face-to-face contact with the public during the outbreak. "Osayuki is a pharmacist by nature and approaches her work with a real passion," she said. "We're so proud of her, as we are of the many other students on our courses who have carried on doing their jobs out in the community at such a difficult time. They are an inspiration to all of us."