By Oguntola Ibukun Paul
I started my Masters in Public Health (MPH) in 2017 and this marked the beginning of my global health journey. I was deliberate about building a career in public health, therefore before I started my program, I explored the world of Public Health consulting, researched the opportunities it presented across the country and mapped out the career path of a global health professional before settling on the exact program I studied. Towards the end of my Masters, I began to research organisations in Nigeria that had a reputation of producing quality public health consulting. My search brought up some interesting organisations among which was EpiAFRIC. That was the easy part. The challenge was in finding a way to get into one of these organisations to continue my learning experience.
In April 2019, I met with a Nigerian family solely by happenstance in East London and through this meeting, I was introduced to Dr. Ike Anya, a seasoned public health consultant and managing partner of EpiAFRIC. This chance meeting marked a turning point in my life and mapped my path into the field of Public Health Consulting as it eventually led to me starting an internship in the organisation.
I started working with EpiAFRIC in July 2019 and as a newbie, both in the organisation and in the field of global health, I remember how nervous I was on my first day and for a few weeks after that. However, I gradually settled into my role and eventually got over feeling overstrung. My assigned tasks included conducting literature reviews, developing strategy documents, stakeholder analysis and so on. I have worked on evaluations and research projects, and I am part of the core team organising health conferences and workshops.
The past two years have been a maze of failures and wins, of learning through trial and error, of meeting and networking with people, and of research, tons and tons of it. I had learned about project management during my MPH, but it was only when I began working on my first project that I got first-hand experience as I was able to translate the theoretical, classroom knowledge I had into a practical experience. During this time, I learnt practical hands-on approaches to project implementation, my professional network widened, and the hours spent with partners and colleagues helped me assimilate a great deal of useful information.
My proudest moment this year was when I led a project assessment in Gombe State, Nigeria. This was an opportunity to showcase all that I learnt from working collaboratively over the past two years. What particularly made it worthwhile was the creative support that I received from the organisation and my team members, all of which strengthened my leadership skills.
One highlight throughout this journey is my involvement in the Health Meets Tech Hackathon. The event drives the organisation’s focus on developing innovations in Health Care. I contributed to the conceptualisation of the hackathon process and got to relate with a diverse community of health and tech personnel in the process of creating innovative solutions to improve healthcare in Nigeria. I am particularly excited about the upcoming Pan African Hackathon which is themed: “Navigating Healthcare Post COVID-19”. At this Hackathon, we will be supporting the development of contextually relevant solutions to healthcare in Africa especially considering the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EpiAFRIC is a global health consulting organisation that prides itself on being an equal opportunity employer with a high-performance culture. We focus on improving population health through expert research and data analysis, project design and evaluation, health communications, advocacy and training. As an organisation, we enable ready access to expertise in public health, epidemiology, research, advisory services and postgraduate professional development. EpiAFRIC has delivered projects and programs in different countries across Africa and is currently focused on scaling up its impact. We are constantly launching new training and workshops as well as conducting groundbreaking research in this region of Africa. Read about our track record here.
EpiAFRIC has given me the opportunity to take an active part in solving problems across the continent, owing to the creative and high-performance culture that has given me confidence in my work. Above all, I have gained relevant professional relationships with people who are passionate about global health consulting and public health in Africa. This experience has broadened my perspective towards public health. As a young person passionate about contributing to the health development field in Africa, I am grateful to be working with amazing colleagues in such a supportive environment. I am thankful for my journey so far and look forward to seeing what this journey holds for me in the coming years. I hope to continue learning and working with global health professionals to ultimately improve health outcomes in Africa.