Interview: Segun Ajayi of Hospital For Humanity

 
 

Leaving the comfort of the United States to come and practice medicine in Nigeria ; for nothing but charity. Why would you do that?
It’s a mandate from God and my comfort is with the people who need quality health care even if it’s in Makoko.

 

Did any member of your family ever ask you he you were up for the challenges of the task?
Yes.

 

What was your response/reaction? 
I understand my calling in life and I realize the challenges that may arise even when others do not, including family. Therefore I try to stay focused on the present goal until it’s completed successfully.

 

You were one me those who went to Haiti after the earthquake, how was the experience?

We landed three days after the earthquake in a chartered plane with $400,000+ worth of medications and supplies and 56 medical professionals ranging from our logistics staff to orthopaedic surgeons. It was a lot to take on at once, which is why we committed to going back on a monthly basis for a year with the hopes of building a Paediatric and Young Adult Rehabilitation Center for those affected by the earthquake.

 

You seem to work more with foreign drug manufacturers, why is that the case?

We work primarily with US based pharmaceutical companies because that is where I am based, and the regulatory process by the FDA is amongst the best in world. Therefore, I want to make sure that if a patient receives a drug from HFH it is the best! 

 

Do you think your studying abroad had a role in enhancing the progress of your project/NGO?
No. I believe that once a person falls in line with their God-ordained calling, then location becomes a moot point. Determination, focus, accuracy and accountability should become the driving forces to enhance the progression of a project to a measurable, sustainable and successful outcome.

 

How easy is it for you to source funds locally? Whenever money is involved, challenges will arise, but the response to the challenges will often time determine the success of a project. Gratefully, we had the support of Governor Fashola (whose vision for Lagos is simply extraordinary) and the Lagos State Ministry of Health. Furthermore, we had a fund raising team of about ten people, led by Solape Agagu who was absolutely amazing in procuring funds and logistical management.

 

You have foreigners in your team, how easy was it for you to convince them to embark on this journey with you?
Our staff is comprised of willing compassionate medical professionals from different countries who have a history with HFH. Also, there is a golden rule that I require all HFH staff to follow – ‘no complaining’.

 

How do the people feel about your services?
Grateful.

 

How do you determine communities that require your services?
We get requests from different countries on a daily basis. After we get the request there is an internal assessment to determine the role of HFH, if any. Then an on-site needs assessment is conducted by a staff member before a medical team is deployed.

 

Ever thought of opening and running your own hospital?
Yes.

 

If you do, would services be free?
I would love for the services to be free. 

 

What is your take on self medication? Consult a physician before taking any medications.  

 

Given the present indices, does Nigeria strike you as a country with the potentials of being one of the healthiest nations to live in, say 10yrs from now?
Nigeria has the potential and opportunity to be a leader in healthcare throughout Africa and possibly the world. However, 10 years may not be enough.

 

What is the linkage between illiteracy, poverty and ill health?
Several studies have shown that individuals who can not read are at or the below poverty level, which may lead to poor health because of many reasons i.e. accessibility to health care and health information. 

 

If you were Nigeria ‘s health minister, what would be your first task in office? Accepting a political office does not allow for a ‘first task’. Often our leaders are faced with several task’s at one time. However, I would focus on technical medical skill training starting with medical students to experienced physicians, medical research specific to Nigeria (ranging from Breast Cancer to infectious disease), form an agency similar to the Center of Disease and Control (CDC), form a proper emergency health care system (from the field to the hospital to discharge), introduce the concept of ‘Mid-levels’ i.e. Physician Assistants/Nurse Practitioners/Nurse Anesthetists, and empower the nurses. 

 

Ever thought of packing ur and leaving?
Yes.

 

Despite all odds, what keeps you going?
Faith in God and my family.

 

If not medicine, what else would you have studied? Project Management 

 

What advice do you have for young people who would love to start up causes like yours?
1. Formulate a mission statement; 2. Have clear and concise obtainable goals; 3. Expect most people to say ‘no’. but know you only need one ‘Yes’. 4. Strive for perfection; 5. Dream Big!

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