Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Lauds InStrat for Supporting Health
Often, being part of impactful change puts you on the frontlines of inspiring others that are regarded as great or leaders. This is especially true in health care, which is an important element of every life and society. In fact, the quality of health care in a society is one of the indices that determines its level of civilization and development. After all, according to Virgil (70 BC – 19 BC) “health is the greatest wealth.”
In emerging economies countries, the health sector is often significantly challenged as a result of a web of complex issues such as availability and distribution of skilled personnel. Mismanagement of financial allocations in this sector, and in a number of cases, war and conflict situations destroy the gains that might have been achieved over time. Per the World Health Organization in 2014, Nigeria has a maternal mortality rate of 814 per 100,000 live births which is one of the highest in the world. Despite the maternal mortality rate steadily reducing to about 52% between 1990 and 2013. This reverse can be attributed in part to the insurgency in the North East of Nigeria.
To this effect, the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria launched an innovation challenge alongside World Bank-IFC, Health Federation of Nigeria, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, and Sterling Bank in December 2016 called Nigeria Service Delivery Innovation Challenge (NSDIC). The NSDIC is a competitive process to identify, showcase, and spur innovations in service delivery to improve the quality and coverage of reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) and nutrition interventions in North East Nigeria. The challenge would help the country create an integrated strategy to access funds from the Global Financing Facility (GFF) grant of the World Bank and other development partners.
As a leader in health care innovation in Nigeria, InStrat was selected as one of nine semi-finalists of this keenly contested innovation. InStrat holds a strategic advantage because of our successful track record of leveraging turnkey technological innovations to mitigate some of the underlining challenges that have plagued the Nigerian health sector. Some of which includes providing evidence for quality health care delivery through effective data collection and reporting in 150 primary health facilities across six states, training of nearly 1,000 front line health workers on Ebola, retraining 200 health workers on obstetric care delivery across six states, as well as the demonstration of 21st century epidemiological technology support provided to the Ondo state government during the Irele Acute Methanol poisoning outbreak.
A key passion I have nurtured over the years is to be part of creating sustainable impact around health care in Africa. So, I was rather enthusiastic, naturally, to be part of the InStrat team that would be at the showcase and pitch session of the NSDIC. A key highlight of which was the attendance of the Acting President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a Nigerian I have understudied and grown to respect over the years. Not only because the Acting President is an intelligent erudite scholar, gentleman, masterful orator, and teacher, but additionally because he has a passion for spurring, creating, and supporting innovations across sectors. Professor Osinbajo has demonstrated this by being part of several innovation pitch events and challenges even before entering national office.
The showcase event started on a very high note for the InStrat team. The State Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire had visited our demonstration stand and was particularly impressed with the level InStrat had been able to integrate the nuances of the Nigerian context with the solutions being offered for the challenge. He noted that our resolutions can help transform the health landscape of Nigeria particularly in cost optimization around health workers capacity development with our video training application and providing evidence for policy making with CliniPAK. He also noted that it was quite consistent with status of the North East to add our satellite solution as well to be able to ensure optimal internet connectivity.
The highest moment for me was the interaction I had with the Acting President Professor Osinbajo during his visit alongside a team of dignitaries to the InStrat stand. This was at the firm request of the State Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. It was a very rare opportunity to be able to share the InStrat innovation story with Professor Osinbajo and his dignitaries. I demonstrated our array of solutions while noting our track record in six states since 2013, the grant support we have received from Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, and the expansions happening in several states.
Through the demonstration, the Acting President listened with rapt attention to the finite details of how our innovations worked, their benefits, and how we had been funded so far. He congratulated us for our achievements and I received a much welcomed handshake from him. For a split-second I thought the interaction was over until he began to probe further; Professor Osinbajo was interested in something I considered rather exciting. He was not just impressed with the quality of our innovations but requested that I share my thoughts on how the government can collaborate with InStrat. I was both able and excited to point out a number of long and short term strategies for funding. One of which was collaborative funding by government and various development partners in locations such as the North East where there is an urgency to improve health outcomes. The Acting President noted that our innovations and strategies are well thought through and are worth the serious consideration of the government.
In the company of the Acting President was the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah as well as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed. Other directors and strategic heads in the Federal Ministry of Health, the IFC-World Bank, the representative of the Managing Director of Sterling Bank, representatives of USAID, The Canadian Embassy and Canadian Aid, and the Australian Embassy were also present.
One last high point for us was the feedback from the audience during my 10 minute pitch of our solution as well as the individual interactions. We are rather optimistic that we will be selected as one of the organizations to be a part of the collective case of Nigeria to the World Bank for the GFF grant. I am also certain that in the coming months we will have more extensive discussions with the Federal Government on how we can extensively partner on our innovations.
Director of Operations,
InStrat Global Health Solutions