Providing leadership training for medics
Despite great strides made to improve health indices across sub-Sahara Africa especially in Nigeria, there is still much work to be done. Key health indices such as maternal mortality and under-five mortality still remain poor despite substantial financial investments.
Why? Several studies indicate that many of the global health interventions that have been implemented are heavily focused on inputs, and programmes, with little focus on leadership, governance and accountability, which are foundational to achieving success on all other levels. There is also limited investment in terms of capacity building in the people who are responsible for making the system work.
In Nigeria for example, these individuals may be categorised into three main groups – the government agencies and policy makers who ensure regulation, policy and funding of the system; the managers who run the systems and are responsible for delivering on performance and results; and of course the frontline workers who interact with the patients- who are the focus and reason for the existence of the health system.
These gaps in the country’s healthcare system have led to poor accountability, inter-professional rivalry, frequent strike actions, crisis, brain drain, medical tourism, inadequate funding and decay of infrastructure in the system.
To address these anomalies, there are fresh efforts aimed at transforming healthcare in Africa and indeed Nigeria by building capacity and raising a generation of leaders who excel in governance and the provision of quality services.
The Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) has started providing leadership training for senior directors in health ministries, medical directors and chief medical directors of public health institutions across the country.
The HLA is an institutional platform, which currently has three flagships programmes, and has successfully trained over 150 multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals in the public and private health sectors, empowering them on their journey to becoming change agents who catalyse transformation in the African healthcare space.
An initiative of the HLA, Leadership Enhancement and Accountability for the Public Sector (LEAPS) is an 18-month programme designed to improve the leadership acumen and execution capacity of policymakers and senior healthcare administrators working at the state level within the public sector.
HLA, last week, in Abuja, held the graduation ceremony for the inaugural cohort of LEAPS programme were certificates of completion were presented to thirty five grandaunts consisting of senior directors in State Ministries from seven states – Cross River, Delta, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna.
Founder of the HLA and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation (HSDF), Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, in his welcome address, stated that addressing the challenges within the health system in Nigeria required not only an ‘inputs’ or programme driven approach but very importantly, an attention to leadership, governance and accountability.
This was a fundamental reason for the establishment of the LEAPS programme. Ohiri reminded the graduates that leadership is not a destination, but a journey and that the graduation ceremony was not the end, but the continuation of that journey.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, reiterated the importance of leadership and governance in the health sector and expressed his delight at the existence of an institution like the HLA which was established to provide world-class training to a wide range of healthcare professionals operating within the public and private domains of the African health sector.
Adewole, represented by the Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Akin Oyemakinde, congratulated the graduating class for taking up an important step towards developing their leadership potential and urged them to keep working tirelessly as they were now important change agents to bring about the much needed transformation.
HLA Board Member, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Big Win Philanthropy and former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, in his message, said the programme is not about exercising authority, but about learning how to bring people together to work towards a common goal.
Pate expressed his support for the HLA and reiterated the value of its contextually relevant approach to building capacity, making it a unique institution in many ways.
Executive lead of the HLA, Dr. Hala Daggash, highlighted the curriculum of the programme, reaffirming that the modules were designed to address the demand to improve quality, reduce cost and improve the patient experience, all taking into cognisance the unique practice and policy context in Nigeria.
The LEAPS programme features a week of classroom lectures followed by a collaborative capstone project and ongoing mentoring from experienced faculty from globally recognise health institutions over an 18-month fellowship period.
As part of the ceremony, graduates presented the results from their capstone projects, which showed various states achieving the goals set at the beginning of the programme. These projects included the reactivation of 80 per cent of the Ward Development Committees in Imo State, increasing the percentage of Primary Health Care Centers with a minimum of four skilled birth attendants in Niger State, and over a 100 per cent increase in the baseline Penatavalent Vaccine 3 immunization coverage in Agege Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State.
Commenting on the successful execution of these capstone projects, Ohiri stated that they were evidence of the impact of the programme, and gave the HLA impetus to continue to remain focused to deliver on its vision of a transformed healthcare system.
HLA Partner and Director/Principal Consultant, Habiba Balogun Consulting Limited, Mrs. Habiba Balogun, also congratulated the graduates saying that the day was an affirmation that with professional leadership and a well-defined aim, phenomenal results can be achieved. The day ended with the presentation of certificates to the graduates.