The name Muhammad Ali Pate has “haunted” me throughout my time at Duke University. Whenever I discuss my intentions to return to Nigeria at some point in my medical career, I am faced with the question, “have you met Dr. Pate?” Given my workload, I continually postponed plans to request an audience with him, a delay that would ultimately prove costly as Dr. Pate – recently appointed Nigerian Minister of State for Health – will now be even harder to get a hold of than he was a few months ago.

Dr. Pate’s already illustrious career encompasses service with the World Bank, with the World Health Organization, with the Nigerian National Primary Health Care Development Agency and with the Midwives Service Scheme. Locally (in Durham), he has played a prominent role in the development of the Duke Global Health Institute. Given his remarkable experience and solid track record, there is no doubt that Dr. Pate is well poised to serve as a catalyst for progress in the Nigerian health sector.

March 16, 2011: Dr. Muhammad Pate addresses faculty and students at Duke about the challenges of health care delivery in Nigeria (Courtesy of the Duke University Chronicle)

March 16, 2011: Dr. Muhammad Pate addresses faculty and students at Duke about the challenges of health care delivery in Nigeria (Courtesy of the Duke University Chronicle)

Following his appointment, Dr. Pate promptly stated his desire to unite all divisions of the health sector in the fight to improve health care delivery in Nigeria. By pursuing this goal, he asserts his support for President Goodluck Jonathan and for current Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu. Prof. Chukwu appears to be working on the same wavelength, expressing support for his new colleague and promising him “unalloyed support to enable him to succeed [during] his tenure.” We wish Dr. Pate the best and hope that he can reproduce his past successes as he works to improve health care management and delivery in Nigeria.

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