I have a story to tell.

The past few weeks have been exciting, to say the least. Results of some of our work are gradually beginning to bear fruit and there is quite a bit more in the pipeline 😁. Our first year health sector report will be published in about a month and I look forward to sharing the details with you.

As usual, the following are my top three highlights from the past few weeks:

1. Congratulations are in order

2. Reckless journalism/politicking is not a public good

3. Want results? Then align your incentives to objectives

1. Congratulations are in order

About three weeks ago, my dear friend and colleague Chikwe Ihekweazu was appointed the assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in charge of health emergency intelligence. This is a very well-deserved appointment and I could not be happier for him. Chikwe is a man with an immense passion for humanity and his great leadership of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) truly speaks for itself. I look forward to more exploits from him and I have no doubts that he will be successful in his new appointment.

Chikwe and I, some place, some time.

I’m also excited for the new Director-General of the NCDC; Dr Ifedayo Adetifa. I am yet to meet with him, but we have had a couple of exchanges and he has a good record of work in infectious disease research as an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He also happens to be from Ekiti State 😉.

Dr Ifedayo Adetifa and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu

According to Seneca, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. I am hopeful for these new beginnings.

2. Reckless journalism/politicking is not a public good

Last week, an online news outlet published a false report, claiming that I confirmed the damage of COVID-19 vaccines in the State as a result of a power outage. This ridiculous report was a full page of unfounded lies and I was bemused that the health sector was targeted. We had to quickly put out a statement to debunk this false report, stating clearly all the efforts the State has put in place to facilitate vaccine deployment, which we have successfully done so far.

One of the major challenges we have faced in our COVID-19 response is the spread of misinformation. The media plays a huge role in risk communication, especially during an outbreak response. Such false reports are easily sensationalised by the public and have the potential to cause anxiety and reduce trust in the health system.

Briefing document used in engaging the press

We investigated the source and feedback indicated this was published to discredit the work of the Government. #SMH

Media platforms have a huge role to play in promoting good health and fighting misinformation. So far, we have engaged favourably with a considerable number of them in the State to provide reliable information on the prevention and management of COVID. However, reckless journalism is a threat to health outcomes and must be discouraged vehemently.

3. Want results? Then align your incentives to the objectives

Ensuring incentives align with set objectives is an underrated strategy for getting work done especially if productivity is a challenge.

Recently, some members of our team took ill and this made me mandate that all other team members who had been in contact with them get tested for COVID-19. However, there seemed to be some reluctance and delay to get tested among some of the staff.

The State laboratory lead needed my approval for payment for an activity carried. I mandated him to ensure that all concerned staff were tested as a pre-condition to getting the approval. Unsurprisingly, everyone concerned got tested in no more than 24 hours. What initially seemed like an uphill task was all of a sudden accomplished in little time.

Health Systems Reforms and Health Financing Expert