"Young health advocates: advancing public health"February 11th, 2015
Over the past century public health has led to improved life expectancies, global reduction in infant and child deaths, and the elimination or mitigation of many communicable diseases. Its chief intent is to promote a healthier society, but the provision of these services is an increasingly difficult challenge. Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, spoke with young health workers who run sustainable health care systems that also offer social and economic benefits.
Biodun Awosusi is a highly motivated public health physician with proven experience in leading innovative national and community-based projects. He has consistently demonstrated capacity to leverage new media to raise awareness and take action on topical health issues, with a focus on health system financing for universal health coverage, investment in community health workers and strengthening of human resource for health in Africa.
Biodun was touched by the need to improve his community, born of his experience as a one-time street hawker. His life as a passionate public health physician inspires many young people not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.
He currently works on the Program to Build Leadership and Accountability in Nigeria’s Health System (PLAN Health), a project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which strengthens institutional capacities of selected public and civil society organizations for improved HIV and other health service delivery for Nigeria’s vulnerable populations.
In February 2013, he received the Lagos State Governor’s Award for his remarkable contribution in improving access to health care for the poor and vulnerable in urban slums in Lagos through the ‘Here2Heal’ project. The project was a free health mission that brought the ever-bustling Ojuwoye market in Mushin, Lagos, to a halt during business hours. The health mission was designed to prevent death from hypertension and diabetes.
Ms Fatimo Megida, a market woman at and one of the beneficiaries of the ‘Here2Heal’ project said: ‘’This is a good programme. There are many people like me who have high blood pressure but who don’t know about it. I cannot imagine what could have happened to me if I did not come out to participate in this programme. I was given drugs, and advised to always come for medical checkup.’’
Losing a friend in childbirth was the turning point for Adepeju Jaiyeoba’s career in community advocacy and humanitarian services. According to her, ‘’Her death put a face behind every statistic I have heard and created a deep connection with our challenges. When I see numbers now, I look at them differently. I know these are not mere numbers but real people and that ignites my passion. It makes me care more deeply for the population I serve. ‘’
She’s the founder of Brown Button Foundation and Mothers Delivery Kit, an NGO established to meet the needs of the population who rely on skilled and unskilled traditional birth attendants, who are sometimes limited in their exposure and understanding of modern techniques and the standard hygiene requirements of the field in which they serve. It is a bridge between the undeniable and needed reliance on traditional birth attendants and the modern hospital facilities. Brown Button Foundation trains birth attendants and the social venture, Mothers Delivery Kit, provides a delivery kit for use at childbirth.
Ms. Jayeoba was praised last July by President Barrack Obama at the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI).
“I believe in you. I believe in every one of you that are doing extraordinary things. Like Adepeju Jayeoba. In Nigeria, she saw a close friend die during childbirth. She now helps train birth attendants and delivers kits with sterile supplies, helping to save the lives of countless mothers and babies. We want to thank Adepeju. We want her to save even more lives,” Mr. Obama stated.
Isaiah Owolabi has over six years of experience working on development initiatives aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and environment degradation, and incorporating business models for such interventions. He is the project director and co-founder of HACEY’s Health Initiative, a non-governmental organization supporting and empowering vulnerable children, women and young people in Africa to live a healthy and productive life. He is also co-founder and currently serves as the Executive Chair of the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning (IYAFP). He is the author of the book “HIV/AIDS – The future of the infected and affected”, a contributing author to the Girls Sexual Health Promotion training manual and the co-author for the Sanitation and Hygiene Training Manual for school children.
Isaiah holds a B.Sc in Human Physiology, a Certificate in Civil Society Organisation Board Governance by USAID, and a certificate in Leadership and Social entrepreneurship from Elos Institute, Brazil.
He is also a One Young World Ambassador, A World at School (AWAS) Global Youth Ambassador, Alumni of the United States Consulate Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative, member of the International AIDS Society, Young Investigator Award winner for his presentation on oral contraceptive at the International Union of Physiological Science Congress in Kyoto, Japan and a 2012 finalist for the Commonwealth Youth Award for excellence in development. He is passionate about implementing programs and advocating for policies that will help vulnerable people live healthy and productive lives. Most recently he became an Alumnus of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a prestigious program of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. As part of this program he served as a fellow at the programs and training department of Atlas Service Corps in Washington DC.
Photos: Oluwafemi Ogunjobi
About me: I am a purpose-driven Nigerian, student, freelance writer, and youth development advocate. I am continuously involved in productive activities that affect human lives, purpose and dignity.
I am passionate about writing. I seek to bring global headliners together through it, and equally to demonstrate how passionate commitment to excellent reporting and storytelling makes a difference in the lives of people everywhere. I also love travelling and playing soccer.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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