Since Ike Anya and I started this blog after attending TEDGlobal in Arusha Tanzania last year, many friends, colleagues and strangers have been extremely complimentary, but there have also been a hand full of cynics, asking what difference does it make?
Generally, many of us have become pessimistic, skeptical, disinterested and disengaged from our country and live in some vague hope that we will become re-engaged when "things get better". Until then...na siddon look we deh. Maybe rightly so....
Others have challenged us in subtle innuendo on our justification in blogging about health issues in Nigeria when we both live and work outside the country. Maybe rightly so...
Some have accused us of being too critical of the Nigerian health sector ....and being insensitive to "how things are done in Nigeria".
again...maybe rightly so....maybe...
How do we get our stories?...many have asked. Mostly from the popular press, many from our network of colleagues, etc. But our goal is not to take over the work of journalists, but to give a public health perspective to the reports and events...contextualising to Nigeria and Health.
But for what? ...a question we are often asked and we increasingly ask ourselves when we realise that 3-4 days have gone by and we should actually update our blog :)
Reading this week's edition of TIME International...we found a statement that gave us that nudge to go on... Written by Jeffrey Sachs, author of The End of Poverty who we had recently quoted on this blog in another context.
Great social transformations—the end of slavery, the women's and civil rights movements, the end of colonial rule, the birth of environmentalism—all began with public awareness and engagement. Our political leaders followed rather than led. It was scientists, engineers, church-goers and young people who truly led the way. If as citizens we vote for war, then war it will be. If instead we support a global commitment to sustainable development, then our leaders will follow, and we will find a way to peace..
OK...our aims can hardly be grouped into "Great social transformations". But YES we do want to push the "HEALTH" agenda in Nigeria. We are remain eternal optimists.
We believe that the Nigerian society is undergoing profound but subtle change. Some sectors that have been blessed with rare thinkers, ahead of their time like the banking sector with Charles Soludo, the Governor of The Nigerian Central Bank and the the financial sector with erstwhile Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala . We pray history will judge current Minister of Health in similar terms. We need to build on the legacy of Prof. Olikoye Ransom Kuti...who is still fondly remembered with nostalgia for his revolutionisation of the Nigerian health sector by placing great emphasis on preventive medicine, particularly concentrating on preventable childhood diseases and encouraging continuous nationwide vaccination programmes.
We are convinced that growth and development in any country is an effort in futility if sectors like education and health are not prioritised. These sectors are obviously less attractive to the much sort after "investor". These sectors rely almost entirely on visionary leadership and an informed citizenry. While we have no influence on the former...we try to play our part in the later. In showing that there is a public demand for better health and health care, we believe we make it easier for the minister of health and heads of health parastatals to demand the requisite resources from our leaders.
Therefore we chose to ask the sometimes difficult questions no one else is asking. Why is Nigeria still one of the biggest threats to the eradication of polio? Why are outbreaks of measles still common, why do hospitals built with public funds lie unused for years and end up burnt and why Pfizer will not settle.
We also highlight the positives. The gradual maturation of health insurance, the stabilising of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the efforts of individuals and groups (like the Kanu Heart Foundation) play their role.
We still hope it is worth your time...and ours :)
P/s We are happy to welcome Ndubuisi Edeoga on our team. ND is an alumni of the College of Medicine of the University of Nigeria, and the MPH programme of Northern Illinois University, USA. He has already created significant interest with his series "Back to the Basics.