Welcome to Nigeria!

On Monday I arrived at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) office in Abuja. I was introduced to all the employees and was greeted with a very warm welcome and lots of smiles – so far so good! My first stop was at the office of the deputy country director for an intro. It was an inspiring start to the day and one thing that I won’t forget him saying is that the company’s profits were the number of lives saved.

My first week largely consisted of reading and more reading which I expected being a new bee. As the fruit of my labour I will give you a very short summary of the project I will be working on:

Aim: To expand women’s access to contraception in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Why: Women have a serious unmet need for family planning. Reducing unintended pregnancies will reduce the associated negative health outcomes and unsafe abortions. Additionally the lack of facilities puts these women and their babies at risk.

The Stats: The national maternal mortality rate is 576 and 400 deaths per 100,000 live births in Nigeria and Ethiopia respectively. In northern Nigeria the figure is as high as 1271! There are many stats but this one stood out.

What contraception: Long Acting Reversible Contraception such as intrauterine devices (commonly known as the coil) and implants (inserted under the skin to release hormones to prevent pregnancy). These methods are cost effective and can last up to 12 years.

Impact: Reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

CHAI have already done some truly amazing work in this area and I look forward to being a part of it!

So as you know it’s my first time working in a new company! What differences / similarities have I noticed so far?

  • Wherever you go there are acronyms! I already have 2 pages worth of them.
  • Regular daily power cuts – no one is phased. Gives the phrase keep calm and carry on new meaning!
  • The fire exit strategy involves jumping from a balcony to the adjacent roof using some chain as support. Good thing there are no fire drills!
  • The barb wire as you enter CHAI is striking. Certainly hits home as to where you are!


  • Teams do not sit together. You will find in a group office, each person will be from a different team. This is done purposely to promote awareness, idea sharing and cross functionality – it really works!
  • The conversations. At GSK we talk KPIs and processes. Here I hear conversations on the number of child deaths and strategies to increase education to village leaders. So different and humbling!


On a lighter note Mindy (GSK Taiwan volunteer) and I had our first excursion in Abuja. We went to by SIM cards for our local phones – what an adventure!!!


Note: All comments and opinions written in this blog are entirely my own.