US-based Public Health expert, Dr. Babajide Sadiq, is a co-founder of Genii ‘Geniuses’ Associates, an innovation in global health consulting. He visited Nigeria recently to discuss plans to help provide African countries with a world-class approach to public healthcare. An expert in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for developing countries, he tells The Guardian how his company plans to offer professional expertise on public health to the country
Let’s meet you please
My name is Babajide Sadiq. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from University of Ilorin, Nigeria, a Master of Public Health degree from the Florida State University and a Doctor of Public Health degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Florida A&M University, USA. I am a public health practitioner with about a decade of academic and non-academic experience in various areas of public health. My experiences spans across: academia (teaching and research) and non-academia, which includes environmental health, chronic and infectious diseases, healthcare management and policy, and International/Global Health).
What’s your area of specialization?
My area of specialisation includes: Millennium Development Goals, Health Disparities Research, Global Health, Chronic and Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Healthcare Management and Policy. I have also authored, coauthored and contributed to several peer-reviewed publications and presented various public health topics in areas of environmental, chronic and infectious diseases, and global health in different conferences.
What brought you back home? What is the motivation?
Well, I am a Nigerian first of all, and, if as a Nigerian I cannot give back to my country, who else would? I was listening to the richest black man, Alhaji Dangote’s interview one day and he said the same thing that Nigerians and Africans in general should be willing to sacrifice and take the lead in nation development before they can reach out for help from the developed countries, if not, no-one would help us. He said foreign investors would only come if the local investors were ready.
Why does public health matter so much to you?
I am interested in population health, saving lives and giving hope to the hopeless. Research has shown that every developed country prospers significantly if the citizenry are of good health. Check the life expectancy and quality of life index of all developing countries and compare it to economic development of these countries. We can have all the resources, but if the quality of lives are not there or people cannot perform to their ultimate potential due to their health, this is going to affect the generally economic growth of that country. We can see that in all, not just few developing countries, even with the amount of resources available to some there is still a great problem in economic growth. Experts have shown this and that investing in public health is great and profitable, and the return on investment is enormous.
Kindly give an insight into the activities of your company
Genii “Geniuses” Associates is a new innovation in global health consulting, dedicated to improving the public health delivery services in developing nations through the development and implementation of an innovative well-structured functional system. We are committed to providing a world class, high quality, client-specific, culturally relevant, affordable and sustainable public health services to different developing nations around the world through the utilization of the local resources available to these nations.
Our innovative public health transformation plan incorporates Culturally Appropriate Strategy, Budget Focused Strategy, Resource Based Strategy, and Need Based Strategy, which is built around an Evidenced Based Public Health Model.
Genii Associates is group of geniuses in different areas of public health who are highly motivated and solution driven. Our Genii are culturally-connected, have diverse nationalities deeply rooted in developing nations and representative of the affected populations will serve and have exceptional and successful achievements in various areas in public health in developing and developed countries around the world.
When Did You Establish The Company?
The idea behind Genii Group was created in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in some parts of West Africa. More than 10,000 people died and over 25,000 total new cases were identified in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It was also estimated that in 2015 alone, over $1.6 billion was spent on Ebola response and recovery effort in these three countries, which is over 12 per cent of their combined GDP. This outbreak contributed immensely to the destabilization of the overall health and economic system of these countries and was noted to be one the greatest global health problems of the century. Due to this and many other public health issues occurring in developing countries, we at Genii Associates believe that had a comprehensive and responsive public health system existed in these countries, this global disaster would have been averted or controlled in a timely manner.
We believe that for such global health disaster to be prevented or controlled, there must be a well-structured and functional public health systems that include ongoing surveillance, data collection and management, healthcare management etc. in each developing nations. Our service solutions are a must-have to address the residual damages of current or past public health disasters and prevent or prepare for emerging health-threatening situations- but our ultimate goal is to prevent lingering devastation altogether.
Why should government invest in public health?
Like I said earlier, investment in the health of a country is a great return on investment. Even in Nigeria, studies have shown that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria is positively influenced by the both health indicators output such as life expectancy, infant mortality, fertility rates and health indicators input such as health expenditure.
What lapses have you noticed in our healthcare system that you wish to correct?
They are enormous, are we talking about infectious diseases, chronic diseases, or our data collection system or surveillance or our disease surveillance system. We can talk on and on. But you know Rome was not built in a day as they say. A house without a good foundation will perish. We need to identify the problems first before we know what to do. Let’s take a look at polio for example, money may be a problem but may not be the major problem. See some countries with little or no resources, compared to Nigeria, have been able to eradicate polio and we are still struggling with it. We need a structure first then we can be able to identify the problems.
I was watching an interview with Femi Otedola on CNBC when he said you can have all the money in business but if you don’t have a structure in place the business is going to fail This is what our evidence-based model is going to address. This is not a trial and error or an experimental system.
How do you intend to go about this, as in collaborating with government?
Local, state and federal governments are our major target. Public health is not an individual effort but a collective one. You can only achieve this through collaboration with one another otherwise it could be a waste of effort.
Does Nigeria have the trained personnel to execute your project?
Without being biased or sentimental, Nigerians are the best and greatest people in the world. Our job is to empower the personnel so that the project can be sustainable. Remember our vision is to transform the public health system in developing countries where individuals and communities have access to public health services that are locally customized to meet the needs of its people.
Kindly mention some public health issues that we have in the country.
Enormous- from infectious diseases to chronic diseases and environmental ones such as malaria, cholera Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF)-among others.
You have a good job in the USA, why do you want to come back home to work?
Like I said earlier, if Nigerians don’t do it for Nigeria, who else would? I have a great passion for this country, I so much believe in this country, we might be going through hard times now, but this country is a great country. Nigeria is great, Africans are great. I cannot just ignore the fact that I am blessed to be a Nigerian.
Tell us about family life
I am married with kids
What’s relaxation for you?
I stay indoors most of the time when I am less busy and I am a great thinker. I think, research a lot about so many things.
This article was first published Guardian newspaper website