In honour of International Leadership Week 2019, we share the story of Sonia Adesara, a junior doctor and campaigner who believes everybody should have access to healthcare
As part of the Doctors For Choice UK team, Dr Sonia Adesara campaigns for the decriminalisation of abortion. The #AskHerToStand director is also passionate about encouraging women from diverse backgrounds to enter politics, as well as ending NHS charging for migrants and reducing racism in hospitals.
Tragedy shaped my career. My aunt died in hospital when she was 23 and, to this day, we don’t know why. After investigating, my mother was told her sister’s notes had ‘got lost’. This made me want to provide the best possible care to every patient. Sometimes, being a troublemaker is a good thing. Don’t be afraid to speak out. I use Twitter as a way of getting views out and raising awareness. I also do the tweets for Doctors For Choice UK, trying to counter misinformation and share facts around abortion. I remember learning at school that, prior to the NHS, people used to die of preventable illnesses because they couldn’t afford healthcare. I think I knew then that it was something I wanted to be part of.
Find your inspiration. My grandma shaped my career and life. Born in a village in India, her parents died when she was eight, and she was married off to a much older and abusive man. As a teenager, she left him and arrived in Uganda illiterate and with a baby, determined to make a better life. When I find myself questioning myself or what people think of me, I think of her. She didn’t make those sacrifices for me to take my privileges for granted.
Be curious. A couple of years ago, I volunteered for an outreach clinic in London and saw the impact a hostile environment, NHS charging and immigration policies have on people living on our streets. A young woman who’d been trafficked told me she was too scared to get help in case she was detained or deported. The experience made me adamant that our immigration policies were wrong and inhumane, and led me to campaign with other doctors to end them.