Barry Nourou travelled 45,000 miles from his hometown of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso to Oxford to complete the final chapters of his PhD on ‘Health research programs: Social Representation and community engagement in a village in Western Burkina Faso’.
Keen to understand the history of his community and contribute to their development, Barry completed a degree in Anthropology from the University of Ouagadougou. He is now finishing his PhD from University of Nazi BONI, in partnership with Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) in Bobo-Dioulasso.
“It is not easy to be a student in Burkina Faso. We really have to work hard to get access to books and articles in libraries. The lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for students to complete their work. Partnerships between our universities and institutions like University of Oxford helps us to access reading resources and develop our skills.”
Barry is studying the community’s understanding to malaria control programmes implemented in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is one of the worst malaria inflicted countries in Africa with an estimated on 7.9 million clinical cases in 2017. IRSS is working in collaboration with Imperial College London on genetically modified mosquitoes to control malaria in the future. Barry is studying how communities engage with these programs and how accepting they are of the new technology of genetically modified mosquitoes.
Barry’s ambition is to continue working with IRSS after completing his PhD and find solutions to eradicate diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever that threaten communities in Burkina Faso.
Barry believes in the power of knowledge and the importance of education, skills development and youth training to overcome the health challenges in his country. During his time in Oxford, Barry met other PhD students, post-doc researchers and senior fellows. He plans to continue working in partnership with them and implement the skills he has learned here in Oxford back in Bobo-Dioulasso.
IRSS in collaboration with University of Nazi BONI has recently received a grant from the World Bank to establish a centre for excellence for biotechnology. The funding will help train young people in Burkina Faso and other African countries in the field of health technology, and Barry is very excited to work in this project and find solutions to challenges faced by Burkina Faso.