August 04

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Oyinbo, oyinbo, hey oyinbo…

I cast a glance at where the shout came from. Two rows of white teeth stretched in wide smile and the shout continued “Oyinbo, oyinbo..”. It was soldier sitting in a watchtower in one of the big houses along the street who was calling me. I waved to him and continued walking down to the Farmers market.

If you are from non-African origin you are Oyinbo in Nigeria.

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Hello to everyone who follows my blog. Apologies for being a bit tardy in posting updates on my stay in Abuja but the events started rolling quite quickly and couldn’t make up my mind and collect my thoughts in a presentable order.

After my flight got delayed one day due to the famous Bulgaria Air airlines I landed successfully on July 5th in Abuja. I settled in Cubana Suites hotel until find place to reside in next six months. After one week there I moved to the house where the other volunteers stay so we are now big GSK family of nine people sharing same roof. What I found interesting about Abuja is there’s no big living buildings with 10+ floors like in Europe where 500+ people live in tiny apartments. There are some residential complexes but they rather at 2-3 floors and the apartments are big. I was told the land here is not expensive and this might be the reason for this type of construction.

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In the first two days at CHAI I turned out to be in malaria crash course with my manager and other CHAI colleagues working in different states (Nigeria is divided in 36 territorial units called States). This was a good prelude to the next week where I sat down with my supervisor to discuss the tasks I’ll be working on in the Malaria Access program. Since the first one is to conduct analysis on the local manufacturing capacity of Nigeria I spent first week in reading all sources what I could find regarding the country’s macroeconomic picture, fiscal policy, political situation and enconomic outlook. Websites, newspapers, tv news – everything that can contribute a bit to get a broader view on what’s happening here.

On the second week I was introduced I will be working also on the HIV program. While the malaria program is more analytical and involves meetings in the MoH, collecting information, discussions with government representatives the HIV brought me on the field in the primary care centers talking to doctors. In next posts I will elaborate on bigger detail both programs and my assigments on each.

What I was wondering during first week was what CHAI is doing here. I received the answer in the second week when we had the so called onboarding sessions. These are meetings where each program is presented but its respective lead. “The program” is area of different disease(s) and there’s a team assigned to each to identify opportunities that can make impact, save lives of people or improve their health. Instinctively I recalled our “therapy areas” :). On every program there are different projects that are funded and need to be managed – here is where CHAI comes to help. Of course these projects are developed and consulted with the government but once a project proves to be workign well and gives results it is shifted to the government as it has the resources and authority to scale it up and affect the population at country level. We had our introduction in tuberculosis, HIV, nutrition, hepatitis, cancer, malaria and few more. It was busy week indeed. The CHAI team is quite hardworking so I felt involved in the job quite fast. Since we were boarded we started working on our actual tasks.