By Khadija Hamid Bobboyi
My experience at the African Health Budget network (AHBN) for the past six months has been life changing to say the least. I am a pharmacist by profession and I have always wanted to give back to my community and be a part of the change makers of the Nigerian health system. That is why early on, I decided I wanted to study public health.
The world is constantly under threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Therefore African governments should not wait for the participation of international health leaders before preventing, detecting, and responding to health crises.
It is the responsibility of the government to secure the health of the people. Recent notable public health emergencies (PHEs) of national and international concern to Nigeria include The Covid-19 pandemic, Lassa Fever, Cholera, Meningitis, Yellow Fever and Monkeypox hence the need to strengthen its local health security.
The work that AHBN does in advocacy, accountability; transparency in the health sector are key drivers to achievement of a strengthened health sector and it is very important to involve, mentor and build the capacity of young people as they are the future of the Nation and they need the guidance and mentor ship to effectively contribute to the community.
When I joined AHBN, I didn’t have any practical experience regarding public health. I did my research on the internet but it was nothing close to the practical skills, exposure and mentorship I have received from being a part of the AHBN team for the past few months.
Some of the general skills I have learnt include, report writing, analyzing financial documents, mapping, media tracking and proposal writing. I have also been exposed to likeminded individuals in the field by interactions with the highly skilled AHBN staff and also attending high profile meetings where I had the opportunity to rub minds with people from different public health organizations all around the world.
I have been on advocacy visits and attended meetings/retreats with the team to meet the DG of NIPRD, biweekly Ministerial press conference at the Federal ministry of health amongst many others. The most amazing part of all this is I was given a seat on the high table and I was given the opportunity to participate and contribute and that resulted in extraordinary growth and confidence on my part.
The BHCPF accountability framework, HRSC Charter, NHIA Act webinar are some of the meetings I participated in as team.
Since joining AHBN as the vaccines and Essential drugs Associate, I have hosted and facilitated an African webinar on behalf of AHBN where I discussed the different Procurement and delivery mechanisms of COVID-19 vaccines. It was a huge success and we had participants from different organizations and other African countries as well. My work has also exposed me to multiple international and regional organizations and mechanisms focusing on vaccines and health security.
I have also joined the AHBN MAYe group which is a group for young people to network and be exposed to opportunities in the health sectors where they can contribute and their voice can be heard both nationally and internationally where I was later chosen to be one of the members of its technical support team to drive activities of the group.
I was also one of the young people involved in planning and executing the successful 2022 adolescent health week coordinated by health promotion department of the FMOH.
I will be joining London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine this Autumn and my experience at AHBN is what equipped and further inspired me to go ahead with a career in Masters in Public Health.
The module selection process was very straightforward for me as I had already been exposed to aspects of our curriculum in real life. I realized that I had already been exposed to aspects of the health economics module in the work that we do in the office. The module health policy, process and power is another interesting module in the department of health services and management that I am looking forward to.
Khadija Hamid Bobboyi, is AHBN’s Vaccines and Essential Drugs Associate.