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“Does Leadership Matter” in the Nigerian health sector?

The greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities that any unit in society has begins with its pattern of leadership. Who makes those decisions that create ripples, trickling down into the lives of the people, and in whose interest are those decisions made? Leadership occupies a pivotal role  from the domestic sphere of the family to the public sphere of companies and organizations, to industries, and ultimately the nation.

Our first Health Watch Forum for the year 2017 will focus on leadership and whether it matters. The change in the leadership of five institutions in the Nigerian health sector in one fell swoop last year led to a rise in the expectations of many Nigerians, including health sector professionals, NGOs working in the health sector, and the international donor community.

No doubt the question on everyone’s mind included: Who are “The Five”, do they have the capacity to change anything, what plans do they have to transform their institutions, and how will this affect the lives of millions of Nigerians?

At the time little was known about the majority of the new leaders, none of whom were already in the Nigerian public service. And perhaps it was this novelty that seemed to inject a burst of fresh air into a health sector that was full of expectation and frustrated at the fail-starts of the past. In this piece written shortly after the announcement, several players in the health sector expressed their enthusiasm in President Buhari’s choices for these institutions, and their optimism that the sector was receiving a much needed break, perhaps even a reset button.

Perhaps… Public service can be notoriously challenging, and the burden on these new heads of institutions, after the fanfare and congratulations, cannot be an easy task. On their shoulders lie the expectations, and the hopes, of millions of Nigerians… seeking to access skilled healthcare in their towns and villages, praying for a Nigeria where a pregnant woman can get to a health centre before it is too late, watching loved ones suffer from disease outbreaks and not knowing what to do, struggling to pay for drugs, trying to keep their children healthy because the fear of going to a health centre that is ill equipped to handle their needs is overwhelming.

Nigerians need hope. They need to believe again that something is being done to help them, to make their everyday lives… better. At the heart of it, this is what good leadership does. It makes the lives of people… better.

The Health Watch Forum a town hall style Breakfast meeting that will provide is an opportunity for the new heads of the five institutions to tell Nigerians just how they plan to make their lives better in the offices in which they have been called to serve. It is also an opportunity for Nigerians to come and dialogue with each other and with leadership, to ask those questions that they need answered.

The journey to a better Nigerian health sector has begun. Join us on April 20th for a conversation with leadership.

If you are interested in attending, please follow us on Twitter and look out for the registration announcement. Please note that attendance requires prior registration.

Editor’s Note: Professor Babatunde Salako of NIMR regrettably cannot be with us for the Forum as a result of a prior engagement but has expressed his appreciation for our invitation. We look forward to another opportunity to engage with him.

The Health Watch Forum Series is a Nigeria Health Watch brand and began in 2015 with the goal of providing a unique platform for engaging and relevant discussion about topical issues affecting the Nigerian health sector. For partnership enquiries please send an email to

7 replies on ““Does Leadership Matter” in the Nigerian health sector?”

Can this session be livestreamed or recorded an archived? There are a lot of Nigerians in diaspora who would love to be a part of this discussion.

This discussion will meet the Nigerian healthcare need of the day. As a Professor of Healthcare Management and Leadership, I suggest that wide publication and time frame should be provided to this issue that MATTERS, to draw much attendees. There should be a phase two of this discourse come NOVEMBER/DECEMBER, 2017. I can be reached at 770-605-2423 in the USA.

Thanks for the consistent posts. I think everyone agrees that leadership does matter, even in the Nigerian health sector. However, I look forward to practical expositions on the ways leadership has proven to matter in the Nigerian scene; an exposition of the good, bad and prospective issues brought about by the kind of leadership Nigeria has or has had at all levels of our healthcare system. I am planning to participate and anticipate a very interesting and hopefully, transforming time.

This is good for health sector in Nigeria. it is coming at a right time when Nigeria being ravaged by emerging and re-emerging diseases. Non-communicable disease is on the rise. Leadership is key to chatting a way forward in prevention and control.

It is unfortunate that Professor Salako will not be attending as there are really many issues to discuss concerning health research in NIgeria. Please can we be informed well before the time of the live stream on twitter or facebook so we can adjust schedules and make time. This is a very important meeting that cannot be missed.

It is Interested to have this and my hope for the best in all the effort made to improve skills of NGOs in other to help our community.

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