Chevening Scholar fights for better public health in Jamaica

Chevening Alumna, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh has recently been nominated as a Global Finalist for the British Council Alumni Awards. Her research into the safety and the impact of pollutants in Jamaica, as well as on informal battery smelting and its damaging effects on children is something we can all learn from.

What have you been trying to achieve?

Using the knowledge and skills I gained studying Public Health International, on my Chevening Scholarship, I returned home to Jamaica to build on the work I’d started as a Public Health Inspector. My work is focused on lobbying the government to do more to protect people from lead poisoning, pesticide poisoning, and harmful toxins from mercury and plastic. My mission is to keep people safer and healthier for longer.


What discoveries have you found?

Lead exposure is not a new issue in Jamaica; it is not discussed enough, but it is not new.

The lives of children are being seriously impacted by exposure to lead, through Jamaica’s informal battery smelting industry and used mined lands. The issue is now so problematic that it has become a serious public health challenge and a huge economic burden to Jamaica.


How are you going to solve the issue?

That’s why I am advocating for a surveillance programme, to monitor people’s exposure to lead. This has been my call to the government since 2018.

The issue of informal battery smelting must be urgently tackled. Recently, I had the opportunity to research the problem, which unveiled the alarming effects of lead poisoning on health systems, communities, and the economy.

Stopping these practices to prevent lead poisoning requires significant political will. But it is my view that every child has the right to good health and protection from exposure to these poisons.



How has Chevening helped you achieve your goals?

I have always been passionate about using my knowledge and skills to help enhance the health and wellbeing of others. In my early career as a Public Health Inspector, I had first-hand experience of public health issues ripping families’ and communities apart.

That’s why I chose to study Master of Public Health International on a Chevening Scholarship.

Chevening provided me with the opportunity to gain global exposure and knowledge about different approaches to tackling health issues.


Any advice for Chevening Scholars?

My advice to future Chevening Scholars? Your scholarship experience will provide you with a wide variety of life skills that will help you to create a positive impact on the lives of others. Make the most of it!



If you’re thinking about applying for a Chevening Scholarship this year, start preparing today by reading our application advice.

Related news

First, a Chevening Scholarship. Next, a government minister

Bernardo Ivo-Cruz undertook his Chevening Scholarship in 2001 at the University of Bristol. Now, in 2022, he has just been appointed Secretary of State for Internationalisation at the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. We interview him to find out how he did it.

Words really can heal the world

Chevening Alumna Beatriz Buarque wins the Luxembourg Peace Prize for her work in combatting online extremism. Read her story.