Thought Leadership

The Minister talking the talk….

Many stories in the Nigerian press start with this phrase

“The President/Governor/Minister/Senator/Chief/ etc has called for XYZ…to do XYZ”

No critical questioning about the issues. No historical perspective, no context, no questions. This is moreso when there is a new appointee doing his round of familiarisation visits.

Here are a few reports from the first few weeks of our new Minister of Health Professor Babatunde Osotimehin.

Health Minister Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, yesterday unveiled his ‘Strategic Agenda for Health,’ which he said is aimed at addressing the challenges confronting the Nigerian health system, and to lay a foundation for a sustained reform of the system, in line with current and emerging challenges.…details in the Champion

…calls for the State,Local Government and other Health stakeholders to work together with theFederal Ministry of Health to ensure that the health indices in the country is improved. details at NPR

….we will eradicate polio from Nigeria by the middle of this year. details in the Vanguard

we will collaborate with state and local government in the country to provide quality healthcare services to Nigerians. details in the Leadership

commends the work of the Clinton Foundation in Nigeria. details in Thisday

tasks health professionals on work ethics. details in Vanguard

…commends Lagos State Government for its giant strides in the health sector details in Thisday

…vows to deal with any health professionals in the federal health institutions, who fails to carry out their responsibilities to patients as expected. details in Thisday

Lots of promises my people…lots of promises…

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

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

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.

1 reply on “The Minister talking the talk….”

Many thanks for your updates.

BMJ West africa is seeking audience with our new Minister of Health to acquint him with its adapted and piloted Clincal Governance initiative which succesfully reduced sero-prevalence of HIV / AIDS from 12% in 2003 to 6.1% in 2006; increased routine immunisation coverage from 20% in 2003 to 84% in 2007; sustained the eradication of wild polio virus from 2004 to 2008; elevated the Roll Back Malaria programme in the state to the best in the country between 2004 and 2007; improved recruitment and retention of staff by improving the terms & conditions of health personnel; and attracted the maximum political will and support from the state Governor in the 4-years of the pilot ( July 2004-June 2008) in Cross River State.

We believe that this home-grown initiative can work in other states in the country and indeed in the sub-region because the challenges are the same or similar in most respects.

Joseph Ana
Mentor & Lead Consultant Trainer,
BMJ West Africa Group.

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