Information is power? Keeping it hidden is also powerful!


A lot of interesting bilateral health related initiatives seem to be happening behind the scenes in Nigeria. One is reassured by the beginnings of central coordination. However, one cannot help but worry about the little interest public bodies take in communicating their activities to the public. It is really a pity that public bodies in the Nigerian health sector have not found the benefit in having websites. NAFDAC, is on the news every night …..and at the commercial breaks too. Yet all that is on their website is this. Our Federal Ministry of Health? Send it if you find one…..kudos to some states that are trying…such Akwa Ibom and Lagos …although the content does leave a lot to be desired. Sadly, one more time the quality of the information available from our Ghanian colleagues is humbling…Click here to see and believe.

As part of its support to the Nigerian Government, the UK Department of International Development (DFID) is funding a GBP 19 million five-year programme to revive routine immunisation in northern Nigeria. Routine immunisation rates in the North of Nigeria are some of the lowest in the world, as low as 2% in some communities…and this lofty programme promises that by the end of the programme 60% of infants will have been fully immunized before their first birthday. A real health target that can be measured! Why is this not receiving the publicity it deserves? This is much better and more sustainable approach than the campaigns that we have seen in Nigeria over the past few years. Partners in this project are Save the Children UK and GRID consulting.

Why is publicity important? Because people will only bring their children to be vaccinated if they know that the programme exits, that it is funded, staffed, trusted and dependable. Is their hope for these children?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

Discussion5 Comments

  1. Just stumbled upon this webblog while doing some routines at work and you can’t believe my excitement. I am sooooo impressed. Well done and please don’t relent even if the comments or feed-backs don’t roll in regularly.
    By the way, I was at UNN (91-95)and the name Ihekwazu sounds familiar, where u at UNN or was one of your parents a professor there?

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