July 14


Somewhere to live … tick!

Two weeks into my assignment and things are starting to stabilise which is a nice feeling. After a lot of searching and support from local estate agents and CHAI (HR staff, Security staff etc), 4 of us from GSK moved into 2 two bedroom apartments. After 2 weeks in 3 different apartments it was a relief to unpack and put on a load of washing, how rock n roll!

In addition, work is beginning to fall into place. I am working in the Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) programme which sits in the wider Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) team. The aim of the team is to reduce maternal and child deaths; numbers 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are due to be delivered by the end of 2015. For MDG 5 Nigeria’s MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio) is second only to India.

The MNH programme is funded by the Norwegian government and is an intense 18month project to critically improve the MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio) and NMR (Neonatal Mortality Rate) in Nigeria as they were off course to meet the MDG targets. The programme works in 3 states in the north of Nigeria, traditionally Muslim populations where home deliveries are as high as 90% of all deliveries. The aim is to equip the first responders with skills, tools and drugs necessary to identify risk, stabilise and refer to medical facilities.

Certainly when I arrived I thought how am I supposed to contribute to such an epic project! But with the support of my manager I now have 3 objectives:

  1. Complete a magnesium sulphate sourcing review for the 3 states we support
    1. Magnesium sulphate is administered to women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia which is 1 of the top 3 causes of maternal deaths.
  2. Work with the 3 states to develop a forecast of all MNH commodities required for 2016/2017
  3. Review the states warehouses to determine capabilities and capacities to support the commodity deliveries. Develop recommendations for improvements.

They are definitely in order of how comfortable I feel with the activities. The 3rd is something I have no experience in but I am hoping that when I am able to travel to the state stores it will become more clear. With the recent troubles in 2 of the 3 states we work in over Ramadan this is unlikely to be soon, so I will have to do as much as I can from the Abuja office.

The team I am working in is fantastic, they are super bright and lots of fun. CHAI’s values and objectives (see pictures below) are similar to GSK’s.

CHAI Values 2                     CHAI Principles

When the Country Director took us through the values he stressed that CHAI’s profit is human lives, the quicker we can do things the more lives we save. He was very clear, if we delay a payment for something, for example a motorbike ambulance, then a woman giving birth who develops complications may not be able to be transported to the right healthcare facility which could be fatal. The second value that struck a cord was ‘humility’. The Country Director was very clear that the way we behave and work with the government should be with humility. He said there will no doubt be frustrations, but we should never forget that they are working hard without air conditioning, with limited IT infrastructure and we are there to support them, and without their help we cannot do the work we do.

And what incredible work CHAI are doing. I witnessed a meeting between the Federal Ministry of Health and their NGO partners last week and the passion the attendees showed for their work was immensely humbling. Although I was later told by colleagues that if I thought that was ‘passion’ I haven’t seen anything yet!