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Profile and achievement of Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu

By Guardian Nigeria
03 April 2023   |   2:06 am
Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu (born October 27, 1986) is a result-oriented health policy and management expert with over twelve years’ professional experience building and leading teams...

Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu (born October 27, 1986) is a result-oriented health policy and management expert with over twelve years’ professional experience building and leading teams in visioning, developing, and implementing life-saving health policies and programmes at national and state levels. Widely identified as one of the youngest politicians in Nigeria, she is best known for her works and revolutionary contributions in the health care system through innovation, prominent personality, purposeful leadership, and integrity.

Early life and Family life
Dr. Betta C. Edu was in London until she was about eight years when she returned to Cross River with her 4 other siblings and parents. Out of five children, she is a twin with a brother. Dr Edu, who comes from Cross River State, was born in Lagos to the family of Mr Emmanuel Eke. At the time, her mother was a hard working stay-at-home wife while her father was a businessman and worked with an engineering firm. When they returned to Nigeria, he became a missionary and he is still a missionary to this day.

Recounting her upbringing, like many Africa parents, her father was a disciplinarian. As a child growing up, she never visited friends and her parents ensured they all needed to concentrate on their education as well as building a thriving career further buttressing the popular saying by Abigail Adams “…learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and diligence…”

More than acquiring a formal education, her parents instilled the principles and value of helping others noting that only way to go up was to give and provide service for humanity. Her father made her get involved with humanitarian services which has been the foundation for her medical practice and humanitarian work.

Education and Early Career
Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu, upon return to Nigeria completed her First school leaving Certificate and Common entrance in 1995 at Charles Walker International Nursery and Primary school. She further went on to have her secondary education at Federal Government Girls College, Calabar in 2001 where she obtained her West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate. In 2009, she proceeded to complete her first degree in medicine and surgery (MBBCh) from the, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria to help people because every time she went out for an outreach or missionary work in remote villages in Nigeria, she met people who had one sickness or the other. In encountering children who had fungal infections, she was inspired to do more. She thought to give them more that food and clothes, to provide quality health care for everyone. Thus, years before she got into the political landscape, right after graduating as a medical doctor, she started carrying out free health outreach programmes in villages with her personal savings.

In 2012, She conducted her compulsory service to her country Nigeria through the National Youth Service Corp program in Calabar, Cross River State as the Chief Medical Director serving at the Cross River State Camp Clinic and a Medical Officer serving at the Government House Clinic as the Team Lead, Personal Physician to First family attached to Wife of the Governor.

In furthering her career, Dr. Betta C. Edu, proceeded to obtained several advanced degrees out of which is a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health for Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, in 2014; A Master of Science Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom in 2014; and a Doctor of Public Health from Texila American University. Dr. Betta C. Edu has over time sharpened her professional and leadership capabilities through numerous executive programmes from renowned institutions as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, United States of America where she in Leadership Strategies for Evolving Health Care Executives in the year 2018. Furthermore, In 2021, she became a Fellow of the Royal School of public health, London, United Kingdom, In 2022, a Fellow of the African Institute of public health Professionals, Ain Shams University Cairo, Egypt, a fellow of the African Institute of Public Health Professionals and Fellow of the Royal society of Public Health, United Kingdom as well as others from the University of Washington, and University Virginia in the United States of America amongst others.

Professional Developments
Notable traits with Dr. Betta Chimaobim Edu are her knack for gaining and sustaining her competitive edge leveraging advance education. Many of such vast acumen is her certificate in Leadership and Management in Health from the University of Washington, United States of America; Health in Humanitarian Crises from University of London, United Kingdom; Spring Language International Centre, University of Arkansas – study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders from the United States Department of State; Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Building Resilience, developing sustainable Health Care Systems and advancing Universal Health Coverage in Developing Countries from Harvard Medical School in collaboration with World Health Organization, The National Health Service Expanded (NHS) from Kings Fund, London, United Kingdom; Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management, Daren school of Business, University of Virginia, United States of America; Making Decentralization work: tool for health policy makers and managers by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, United States of America; Advanced course on Health Financing for universal health coverage for low- and middle-income countries by World Health Organization, Health Financing Policy for Universal Health Coverage World Health Organization and others in the pipeline.

Professional Strides
Dr Betta C. Edu under the supervision of top medical consultants, began gaining strides in her professional career as a Locum Medical Officer and House Officer in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, in 2011 providing Locum cover in emergency centers and departments; ensuring timely recognition of potential medical complications, conducting minor surgeries and assisted in major surgeries, sought personal professional development in clinical skills for high delivery quality services. In 2013, she was in charge of staff clinic as the Medical Officer of Health at the State Ministry of Health, Cross River State where she conducted seminars and promoted health education amongst other medical duties. She was appointed as a Public Health Consultant in the Department of Community and Primary Health Care, Cross River State. In 2014, she reorganized and strengthened health policies within the Primary Health Care Department, conducted preliminary research and review of the state health policies and procedures in place alongside the Department heads, examining existing data management methods and systems and much more.

Executive Exploits
Dr. Betta Chimaobim Edu became the Vice Chairman, Forum of all CEOs of Primary Health Care Agencies and Boards in Nigeria in 2018. During her tenure, she reformed national policy decisions for Primary Health Care development in Nigeria, collaborated with the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency to ensure full implementation of Primary Health Care Under One Roof policy in all the 36 states and FCT in Nigeria, Advocated regularly to President, National Assembly and key stakeholders to influence institutionalization and full implementation of key health policies, particularly the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and also Advocated to Governors on state specific challenges to the health sector with emphases on Primary Health Care within their states. As Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Cross River state on Community Health in 2015 to 2016, as at the time she was the youngest Special Adviser to any Governor in Nigeria. she offered advised on public health matters, with focus on improving the health of the communities, produced policy briefs on health systems strengthening and universal health coverage to support policy dialogue and decisions of the Governor, Identified strategic development partners (local and international) and facilitated their engagement with the state government to support the state’s health policies and programmes implementation, provided technical assistance to the State Ministry of Health and parastatals in policy development, strategic planning and performance management amongst other key leadership responsibilities.
In 2016, she became the first Director General, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (CRSPHCDA) and up until 2019, she facilitated the creation of Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency and the enactment of the Agency’s establishment Law, the creation of Cross River State Health Insurance Scheme and the enactment of the Agency’s establishment Act, Produced the first ever Minimum Service Package for health care in the State, Revitalized over 200 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in line with the PHC Revitalization policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Constructed 60 New PHCs to promote equitable access to primary care in unreached underserved communities, Increased domestic financing for primary healthcare in Cross River state, Achieved rapid coverage of child immunization through the introduction of ‘push system’ for vaccines supply in the state immunization program and achieved highest ranking status for Cross River state in child survival rate in Nigeria.
While serving as the Commissioner for Health, Cross River State from December 2019 through to March 2022, Dr Betta C. Edu, lead the strategic vision, planning, and implementation of health and human development policies to fulfill the development agenda of the government of Cross River State Member of State Executive Council, formulated, reviewed and approved policies and programmes for the achievement of the Next Level agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as the member of the National Council on Health (NCH) working with the Minister of Health and State Commissioners of Health, Imbibed the culture of the application of system thinking performance measurement among the state health administrators and workforce; Formulated, implemented, monitored, and evaluated health policies and laws to support the state achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC); Establish and manage strategic partnerships with development partners, private sector, religious and traditional institutions to advance UHC in Cross River State, Engaged the state legislature to enact and revise laws relevant to the health policy agenda of the state government, Coordinated the development of Cross River State Strategic Health Development Plan (2020-2025), Coordinate the development of annual state health operational plan and budget and present same to the Cross River State House of Assembly for approval, Set investment priorities for the Cross River State health system to facilitate optimization of resources for UHC; Coordinate the state’s response to COVID-19 pandemic as well as Provided political, management and technical leadership to the state health sector.
In 2020, she was appointed as the Chairman, Cross River State COVID-19 Response Taskforce and with her leadership and core technical skills successfully coordinated the Cross River State COVID-19 Response, Established and coordinated the Emergency Operations Centre for COVID-19 in the state, Implemented the Incident Action Plan for Cross River state, Introduced policies and innovations like the use of facemask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 ahead of World Health Organization recommendation and even the Countries Presidential Task Force on Covid-19. All these was done to enhance the state’s COVID-19 response aligned with global best practices and most recent scientific evidence contrary to political controversies.

Early political Career
Basically the youngest person in the cabinet at the time while serving as the Special advisor to the Executive governor, leadership at this time was for people who were in their 40s, 50s and 60s. She was under 30 years of age. People thought she was too young and did not have the experience to be of service. But not Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu.
Dr. Betta Edu from a young age is a goal-getter who is driven by her strong belief in excellence, integrity, hard work, resilience, diligence and effective execution. Though a young energetic politician, Dr. Betta C. Edu began her political journey when she was a student at the University of Calabar. Between years 2007 – 2028, she was the Vice President of the Student Union Government at the university. She also served as the president of the female leadership forum, University of Calabar.
In 2005, she was the Treasurer, Cross River State Medical Students association, Cross River State, became the Youth President, Jesus Action Ministry International in 2001 -2008; was appointed the committee chairman – House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Students’ Union Parliament, University of Calabar in 2006-2007; became the Vice President Students’ Union Government, University of Calabar. In 2007-2008, she became President and coordinator of Female Leadership Forum; University of Calabar chapter. In 2007-2008, was Vice President of Action Group on Adolescent Health (AGAH), University of Calabar chapter and In 2005-2009, Student’s Representative Critical Mass Committee, University of Calabar HIV/AIDS program in 2006-2008.

In 2009-2010, she was appointed the Editor in Chief of the Syringe Magazine; official magazine of the Calabar University Medical Student Association (CUMSA), Vice President Association of House Officers, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. In 2011-2012, she was the Secretary of Medical Committee of Presidential and Governorship campaign 2015 & 2019 and the Secretary, Cross River State Commissioners Forum in September 2020 – March 2022.

Political Leadership, Appointments and Landscape
Dr Betta C. Edu is a seasoned administrator and a gender expert who in the last one year have had a dynamic result-oriented leadership career at national core politics as the National Women Leader of the ruling party and the largest political party in Africa; All Progressive Congress; providing vision, strategy and operational execution to the women’s wing of the party, addressing gender issues, women empowerment, women affirmative action, welfarism, healthcare programs and operations geared towards female gender mainstreaming in politics, leadership and governance. She was very instrumental to the emergence of Chief Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of Nigeria through the mobilization of women all across the country in their millions to vote for the now president.

Ahead of the general election, Dr Edu had the big mandate of leading from the front and rallying women to get more involved in party politics telling the world that she was fully aware of the task ahead with her quote “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored. The Interest of Nigeria Women remains my major interest and priority,”

Her emergence as the National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in March 2022 after defeating her opponent by 2,662 to 117 votes at the APC National convention did not come as a surprise to many – thus making her the youngest Women leader to ever occupy the position of a National Woman Leader of any political party in Africa at 35 years of age.

It is important to know that Dr. Betta C. Edu was the immediate past Commissioner for Health of Cross River State, Nigeria who revolutionized the health care system through innovation, purposeful leadership, and integrity and Prior to the appointment as the National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), she was the Special Adviser, women Affairs, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Committee between 2022 and 2023. During this period, Dr. Betta C. Edu advised on all matters as it concerns women mobilization and participation in the electoral process as a member of the Presidential Candidate and the Presidential campaign council. Furthermore, she Strategic all engaged the grassroots from polling units to wards to Local Government and states, implementing strategies to help the presidential candidate emerge victorious at polls, facilitated with women at every Presidential campaign rally on their expected roles calling for support of Nigerian women and mobilizing women to rallies, provided welfare packages, Door to door packages, financial and moral support to push grass-root campaigns across the country, Engaged daily as the Media & publicity personnel women and win over their support for the party for a successful Presidential campaigns as well as joined the Election process Management team with situation room monitoring women participation and giving feedbacks to the PCC situation room.

Not losing steam at all, she was elected the National Women Leader, All Progressive Congress (APC) in March 2022 and uptill date, she is responsible for the mobilization of over20 million APC women and Nigerian women to support the party, Initiates and implements strategic programs that endeared Nigerians to the party including Women empowerment (skills and financial empowerment), free Health outreach for women and children, business start-ups, Female farmers support, capacity building on leadership, gender mainstreaming, welfarism etc. Furthermore, she offers supports to grass-root Nigerian women in consultation with the Zonal and State Women Leaders as approved by the Party, Performed other functions as assigned to me beyond the women’s wing from time to time by the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee.

Philanthropy and Community Development
In her words, “My greatest motivation is people. When I see people who are suffering, deprived or do not have access to basic things, it pushes me to do more”. This word on Mable reveals the fulcrum for her philanthropy activities through community development, educational Scholarship and too many philanthropic gestures to mention but a few. In August 2012, she gave Free Health Outreach for rural dwellers across four underserved creeks in Cross River State. In 2013 through to 2019, she offered Free health outreaches to over 200 remote communities working with a group of volunteer Doctors and other health workers yearly who volunteer for free in rural areas in Cross River State and in 10 other states, Free Health Outreach for people displaced by conflict areas like; Itigidi, Ugep, yala, obanliku and Ekori.

Furthermore, in December 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 &2019, Dr Chimaobim Betta Edu gave Free Three-Day Health Outreach at Adadama village, Cross River State.
Since 2016 and up till date, she Pays Fees for all pupils in Adadama Ward of Abi Local Government Area, Scholarship for 100 post graduate scholars in Cross river state yearly, Financial empowerment for 1000 small and medium scale businesses yearly. In 2017 and up till date, Dr Betta C. Edu gives free Jamb Scholarship for 500 eligible Student. Dr Edu also pays school fees for every child in her political Ward; Adadama in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Aside from being a philanthropist, Dr Betta Edu is also a relentless and selfless volunteer. Many areas of her volunteer projects include but not limited to the 12th Annual Global Classroom International High School Model UN Conference program (GCIMUN), UN Headquarters and Grand Hyatt, New York, USA in May 2011, The Global HIV/AIDS initiative Nigeria (GHAIN), General hospital Calabar in November 2010- March 2011, The Art Lifestyle workshop for developmentally disabled adult—Lifestyle for Living, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA Summer in 2009.

Over the years, dynamic result-oriented leadership, Dr, Betta C. Edu has won over 600 awards and nominations for her works in the last 5 years out of which are:

Leadership Award
Year 2020: Commissioner of the Year’ UN-SDG
Year 2017: Award of 50 Future Leaders in Nigeria
Professional Award
Year 2008: Award of the Most Dedicated student Unionist of the year—Students’ Union Government (SUG) 2007/2008, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.
Year 2010: Class 2010 Best All-Rounder Award, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
Completion Award for the study of Civil Rights and the American South, Spring Language International Centre 2009, United States Institute for Student Leaders, University of Arkansas
Year 2020: Hero of Covid-19, National Youth Council of Nigeria
Year 2020: Quintessential Nigeria Woman Award: Excellent Women International
Year 2019: Yala Achievers’ Award
Humanitarian Service Award
Year 2018: Pan Africa Award for Humanitarian services
Year 2016: Rotarian Humanitarian of the Year Award
Year 2022: UN ECOSOC SCS- UNESC AFRICAN Humanitarian award; United Nations Economic and social council
Good will Award
Year 2009: Ambassador of Good Will of the State of Arkansas — Arkansas Traveler Award for visitors who have contributed to community development, progress and well-being of the state of Arkansas.
Fellowship Award
Year 2016: Fellowship Award for Distinguished professional contributions to Public Service, Council of Institute of Corporate Administration

As the immediate past Commissioner for Health of Cross River State, Dr. Betta C. Edu revolutionized the health care system through innovation, purposeful leadership, and integrity. Her energetic and quintessential leadership resulted in significant improvements in key health indices in Cross River state, Nigeria. Some of these leadership endeavors resulted to the best child survival rate in Nigeria; 63% reduction in maternal mortality rate (MMR) in public health facilities in the last 5 years; 44% reduction in new-born death at health facilities in the last 5 years; decline in HIV prevalence from 6.6% in 2015 to 1.8% in 2020.

During her tenure, The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health ranked Cross River State and the 2nd best performing state in 2020. These remarkable achievements were made possible by her strategic investment and re-organization of the Cross River state health system founded on a robust primary health care system as the fulcrum of its universal health coverage (UHC) agenda. Furthermore, She started the operationalization of the Cross River state Health insurance scheme covering over 80,000 cross Riverians in both Public and private sector within 6 months driving the state towards the attainment of universal Health coverage.

Dr Betta C. Edu as Commissioner for Health in Cross River state managed COVID-19 pandemic in her state as the chairman of COVID-19 Response Taskforce, where she performed exceptionally well as the state recorded almost the lowest number of cases and mortality in the country. Her outstanding public health response preparedness and innovation brought about the introduction of face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 long before it was recommended by World Health Organization and the countries Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.

Her unique leadership qualities saw her emerge the Chairman of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum since 2020 to 2022. In this capacity, she has reformed the organisation, giving it a legal status, and formally affiliated with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. She organized the first ever health summit by the Forum which facilitated strategic engagement of the health commissioners with development partners, private sector, academia and the civil society to bridge information gap that existed between them, review progress towards UHC, identify opportunities for improvement and foster strategic partnerships to serve Nigerians better through policy actions and optimization of investments.

Dr Betta Edu was also appointed by President Buhari to represent the National council on Health as a member of the Presidential Health Reform committee chaired by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner for Health, she served as the Director General/CEO of CRSPHCDA where she established the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHCDA) in 2016, and successfully created at least one functional primary healthcare center (PHC) in every ward in Cross River state (built 60 new PHCs and revitalized200).

In line with her UHC policy agenda, she established the Cross River State Health Insurance Scheme which has over 80,000 enrollees accessing quality healthcare, and fully protected from financial risk. She established partnerships with local and international development partners and mobilized over USD10 million into the state health system to support strategic investments in resilient systems for sustainable health (RSSH) and quality healthcare service coverage.

She revolutionized the primary healthcare system in the state through policies and programmes that promoted innovation, quality of care, and efficiency. Under her leadership, the Agency developed the first ever minimum PHC service package for the state and established a framework for Traditional Birth Attendant Regulation in Cross River State. She reorganized the PHC system to promote access, equity, quality of care and efficiency. These policy actions resulted in reduction in maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate and improved child survival rate. Working with her team she initiated the Vaccine Push System in Cross River State which strengthened the immunization program improving access to vaccines by 30%. The result of these innovative policies and strategic investments, Cross River State was ranked by UNICEF as the state with the highest child survival rate in Nigeria.

Her dynamic leadership qualities and sterling achievements earned her recognition among her peers who elected her the Vice Chairman of Forum of CEOs of Primary Health Care Agencies and Boards in Nigeria in March 2018 through to May 2019.

Dr Betta Chimaobim Edu is affiliated to many institutions but not limited to the International Exchange/United State of America Student Alumni, John snow society of Epidemiologist, United Kingdom, Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), Nigeria, Nigerian Medical Association, Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Cross River State Medical Women Association, University of Calabar Alumni Association, Female Leadership Forum, Youth Educational Project Network, Action Group on Adolescent Health (AGAH), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Alumni amongst others.

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