Opportunities for Improving Mental Health Delivery in Nigeria

In June 2014, I returned home to Nigeria for my first real visit in 10 years. This visit was distinctly different from my previous ultra-brief visits in that I was well established in my career and have a green card – in itself a small, but extremely significant difference. My objectives were twofold – my primary goal was to reconnect with family, old friends and training institutions – the elements interwoven in the fabric of my upbringing, and secondly, but just as importantly, to look for opportunities to contribute my expertise towards the improvement of mental health in Nigeria. It was also significant in being my 10-year-old daughter’s first trip to the land of her parents’ birth.

Having read the reports published by Patel et al in the Lancet series on global mental health in 2008, I was acutely aware of the shortage of mental health professionals in the developing world, including Nigeria. As with many contemporaries, I was, and remain keenly interested in serving as a resource to making available what I had learned. Rather than engage in quantitative research, I decided to get a street-level sense of what was both needed and feasible.In order to do this, I conducted several informal surveys using a qualitative interview style.

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Video: How Nigeria has succeeded in containing Ebola

According to the latest report (September 18) by the World Health Organization, there have been 21 cases of Ebola and 8 deaths in Nigeria. The WHO has declared the Ebola outbreak effectively controlled and contained in Nigeria, a remarkable feat in a country of 170 million people, where there were widely expressed fears of rapid and uncontrolled disease spread. In this video featuring Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, PBS outlines how Nigeria achieved this feat.

 

The Psychology of Nigerian Corruption

corruption-nigeria

The 2014 scientific conference of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) took place in Anaheim, California between July 17 – 20. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Mental Health Challenges in Contemporary Health Care”. I was privileged to be one of the invited speakers for a panel discussion on mental health service development in Nigeria. My talk focused on opportunities to improve access to mental health care by utilizing and adapting existing human and structural infrastructures in the country. I also emphasized the need for pursuing a development model that synergized Nigerian diaspora experts and local talent; a model that has been successful in the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.

The conference was well attended, with the Nigerian minister of health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, the former Nigerian Minister of State for Health Professor Muhammad Ali Pate,  the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Professor Adebowale Adefuye, the Consul-General of the Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe in attendance.

It is almost a constant for every discussion on the prevailing ills of the Nigeria society to devolve to a discussion on corruption. Such was the case, during the question and answer session that followed my presentation. An attendee – a representative of the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta – asked a question that got me thinking and contemplating the inner workings of the minds of Nigerian politicians.  To paraphrase, the question was:

“Why are Nigerian politicians so corrupt? Why do they loot in billions of Naira and still loot some more?”

The gentleman was curious to know if there was any psychological basis for such corruption.

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EBOLA: How Global Institutions Fail Third World Nations

While thousands are dying of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Africa, top tier World Health Organization (WHO) leaders are sitting around in Geneva pushing files, sharpening pencils, getting facials, pedicure, manicure, and giving a mountain of excuses to cover their calamitous failures in Africa.

Can someone explain to me why a global health agency that has been in existence for decades has not commissioned a study on a dangerous viral disease that has killed millions of people over the decades? Compare that to a few years ago when the SARS virus emerged in the Far East and was quickly eradicated. The WHO approach to the Ebola pandemic is not to eradicate the virus, but to contain it in Africa; create concentration camps in Africa, round up affected patients and their traumatized contacts, seal the gates, and let them all die off, and then cremate their bodies like the Nazis did.

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The Health Literacy Challenge of Controlling Ebola Spread in Nigeria

There is no doubt that Nigeria faces a number of health challenges. The unfortunate and scary emergence of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country has not only compounded the problem, but has also exposed the inherent lapses in our public health system.

There is no known cure for EVD at the moment. However, the furor surrounding the deadly EVD and its attendant casualties has naturally stimulated people’s instinct of wanting to steer clear and seek preventive measures by all means.

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