Twist of fate – new Ministers of Health in Nigeria and the UK


Nigeria and the UK have an important historical relationship that is not lost on us. In October this year we celebrate 50 years of independence. By some twist of fate both countries have in the last few weeks appointed new Ministers of Health. After the self-serving debate on whether the MOH should be a medical doctor or not in Nigeria, we await some indication of a policy direction from our new Minister. Meanwhile within 24 hours of being appointed, read below a press briefing by the newly appoointed Health Secretary (equivalent of a Minister of Health) in the UK. Interprete as you wish(coincidentally he was a career civil servant, working at the Department of Trade & Industry)

Andrew Lansley CBE was appointed yesterday as Secretary of State for Health. Mr Lansley is the MP for South Cambridgeshire and previously served as the Shadow Health Secretary – a position he held from 2003.

Mr Lansley said:

“It is an immense privilege to be appointed Secretary of State for Health in the new Government.

“Just as Britain needs strong and stable Government, so we intend to bring to the NHS the consistent, stable reform, which enables it to deliver improving quality of care to patients.

“I have met many people working in the NHS and social care; I know they want to focus on patients and to be accountable for the results they achieve.

“I am determined that we will have an NHS in which the patient shares in making decisions; where quality standards are evidence-based and form the basis of the design of services and their management; and where the objective is consistent improvement in the outcomes we achieve, so that they are amongst the best in the world.

“To achieve this in the current financial crisis requires leadership and highly effective management. The NHS will be backed with increased real resources but with this comes a real responsibility. We will need progressively to be more efficient, to cut the costs of what we do now, to innovate and re-design, in order to enable us to meet increased demands and to improve quality and outcomes.

“This will not happen in a top-down, bureaucratic system. Decisions must be taken with patients, close to patients and with clinical leadership at the fore.

“If we are to succeed in improving the health service, we must also improve the public health of the nation. We must promote good health, stronger locally-owned public health strategies and effective screening and prevention of disease.

“We will create a more integrated public health service at the heart of healthcare policy. To improve health and well-being, we must offer support, security and services to those in need of personal and social care.

“There is much to do. If I have learnt one thing over six-and-a-half years as Shadow Health Secretary, it is that in the NHS we have an immense number of talented, committed and capable people, who want to be trusted to get on with the job. It will be my task to enable the NHS to do this; with our shared ambition to achieve the best healthcare service anywhere in the world.”

….maybe there are somethings in this for us to learn from …just maybe.

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.

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