Dorcas Gwata started off her career as a hospital cleaner in Edinburgh, working her way up in nursing and into public health. She is a Global Health Specialist working with young people and families affected by gang culture in London. She has worked on the Zimbabwean Friendship Bench Project and she has extensive experience working in East Africa and Asia.
In January 2020 Dorcas returned to the frontline, working in emergency medicine in a teaching hospital in central London. Her work reveals health inequalities in our society, and the concerning evidence that health care professionals from minority backgrounds have disproportionately died of COVID19.
Dorcas is an experienced Global Mental Health Specialist working across Sub-Saharan Africa, with special interest in gender violence, substance misuse, mental health, non-communicable diseases, migration, cross cultural psychiatry and youth health. She is also a visiting lecturer at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where she studied an MSc in Public Health, and Kings College London.
Dorcas is a Mental Health Advisor at Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) and The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSHTM). She has recently been awarded the International Human Rights Award by the University of Surrey. She is the co-founder of the Global Health Café, the first African-led platform focusing on global health issues with particular focus on Africa. She mentors young graduates, and is passionate about supporting more women of colour in leadership roles.
Dorcas is interested in the merger between mental health and art, and supports local artists in Zimbabwe and the UK. She is a keen adventure and business traveller; she provides cultural consultation to businesses and individuals travelling to Africa. She practises yoga regularly and has an insatiable love for Africa.
Street Clinic is inspired by Dorcas’s career as an award-winning mental health nurse who has seen at first hand the consequences of London’s brutal gang warfare through her work with the Westminster Integrated Gangs Unit in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament. Her specialist clinical training was unique – she had the only role in the country that placed nursing so therapeutically close to gangs. Dorcas’s job was to build trust among the young people in her care, many with complex mental health needs, and to help them to find a way out of the tragic cycle of gang violence.
As Dorcas gets closer to the reality of life on the streets she begins to question the healthcare system she has devoted her working career to. In a series of blistering essays, she lifts the lid on blatant and latent inequalities in British society, and reveals the discrimination faced by migrant workers on the frontline of the NHS. To this day Dorcas is mistaken for a hospital cleaner, her first job when she arrived in the UK, an all-seeing role she has the utmost respect for and one that gives her a broad perspective on our hallowed national health service.
Her story straddles two pandemics: HIV, which ravaged her home country of Zimbabwe when she was growing up, claiming the lives of three of her brothers including her twin; and Covid-19, which Dorcas joins the fight against despite the increased risk she faces as a member of the BAME community. Through it all Dorcas remains a life-affirming voice in the field of global health. As she says, ‘Where I have castigated the system it is because I adore it, and want it to work for everyone, including migrant communities.’
Street Clinic will be published by Picador in Spring 2024.