Making our Voices Count: Active Citizenship for Health


We can see from other sectors in Nigeria, how active citizenship is driving change. From the elections, to the increased responsiveness of government in various sectors, Nigerians are finding their voices and using it. Most sectors are recognising this, even the Nigerian Police Force has recently set up a Complaint Response Unit.

So, why is this not as evident in the health sector as in other sectors? Why do we all feel a collective helplessness in the face of poor services in our public health centres and hospitals? Why do we accept that people die of diseases like cholera in Africa’s biggest economy?  Why do we celebrate being the last country in Africa to eliminate Polio? How has the patient been completely lost in the discourse on strikes by different cadres of health care workers? Why do we listen to the next promise by government officials for the health sector without asking what happened to the last one?

Active citizenship means people getting involved in their democracy at all levels. It means educating ourselves on our rights, privileges and responsibilities. Active citizenship means not looking away, not hoping that someone else is doing it. It is at the core of democracy. Governments and professionals are rarely accountable from the goodness of their hearts; they are accountable when citizens hold them to account.

So, if it is so important, where are the citizens demanding a better health sector in Nigerian?

How can we make health sector advocacy more effective? What tools have been used effectively in other sectors that can be deployed to health? What lessons can health sector activists draw from successful advocacy in other sectors? How can we, citizens, be more effective in carrying out one of our most important role?

To explore this important question, three leading advocacy organisations; Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, the ONE Campaign and Nigeria Health Watch have pulled together an exciting panel to address this question and proffer solutions for the future. They all have a unique perspective and will share this at a forum in Abuja on Tuesday the 26th of April 2016.

  • Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau: Executive Director, EVA
  • Stanley Achonu: Operations Lead, BudgIT
  • Edwin Ikhuoria: Country Rep, ONE Campaign
  • Charles Usie: Country Director, Christian Aid
  • Ben Anyene: Chair, Board of Trustees, HERFON 

For this this forum, we have brought together a fascinating and diverse group of speakers who have championed the cause of citizen engagement and advocacy from within and outside the Health Sector to share their experience on effective advocacy.

Health Watch Forum Speakers
                     The Health Watch Forum Speakers

This is an exciting era for health in Nigeria. The new Minister of Health has come out with many strong promises and we are all hopeful for change. But as responsible citizens, we must play our part and hold our governments accountable for the promised change. This is the beginning of that journey.

Registration is by invitation only, as seats are limited. Please send an email to to indicate interest in attending.

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.

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