It was a bright, sunny, Summer afternoon 25 years ago when my wife and I and our youngest child (now happily married herself and a top Healthcare Executive in her own right) arrived in Southern California in the scenic, beautiful, family-friendly Disneyland for the inaugural Convention and the formal inception of the Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists in the Americas (aka ANPA). I remember seeing many familiar faces I had known from my days in Nigeria and some I met here on my sojourn to the United States of America. I remember the subsequent annual Conventions in glamorous locations/hotels and Convention-friendly cities all across the United States of America and one beautiful Convention in Abuja in 2009 under the leadership of Dr. Julius Kpaduwa.
I remember the audacious move (similar to the audacity and great hope with which ANPA was founded) by Dr. Michael Etomi to give ANPA visibility in Nigeria by setting up an Advocacy Committee that will take our case and our vision to the healthcare stakeholders in Nigeria by meeting directly with the Health Minister and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, officials of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, officials of the National Universities Commission (NUC), officials of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Senators and Representatives in the Healthcare Committees of the Nigerian National Assembly while also giving ANPA widespread publicity in Nigeria through his involvement of the owners of the efficient Channels TV. I remember the audacious move to expand ANPA’s presence and advocacy efforts in Nigeria under the leadership of Dr. Nkem Chukwumerijie by starting an ANPA Week comprising Medical Mission (working in partnership with our Nigerian-based colleagues in Nigerian institutions for better clinical follow-up and continuity of care, the first one being in Jos at Faith Alive Hospital in 2016), Advocacy meetings with all stakeholders in the healthcare sector and Continuing Professional Development (aka Continuing Medical Education as we know it in the United States of America). ANPA was even issued with a Certificate by the MDCN as an accredited organization for CME/CPD activities in Nigeria. This tradition was diligently carved out and expanded by Dr. Johnson Adeyanju (Immediate Past President) and Dr. Charmaine Emelife’s (Current President) regimes when the concept was successfully deployed at the First Consultants Hospital In Obalende, Lagos in 2017 for the Medical Mission, General Hospital, Enugu-Ukwu in 2018 and General Hospital, Kubwa, in 2019 with a strong advocacy component where we pushed for the involvement of diaspora physicians in the healthcare delivery system of Nigeria the result of which germinated in the development of the Diaspora Professionals Healthcare Initiative (DPHI) which will be started in the latter part of 2019 working cooperatively with other diaspora organizations like MANSAG (United Kingdom), CANPAD (Canada), NMA-Germany (Germany), NDF-SA (South Africa), NAPPSA (Nigerian pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in USA), NANNNA (Nigerian nurses in USA), NNCA-UK (Nigerian nurses in the United Kingdom), NMA (Nigerian Medical Association).
Now that ANPA is 25 years old, I believe we are on the cusp of building on the foundation and beautiful legacies left by the previous leadership teams to take ANPA to the next level of accomplishing its vision of a “healthier Nigeria in a healthier world”. ANPA needs to be visibly present in Nigeria by not only bringing its expertise as exemplified by the care delivered in 15-year old Joseph’s case (the tetralogy of Fallot patient) who was accurately diagnosed by Dr. Osita Onyekwere (cardiologist), promptly referred to Dr. Michael Olutoyin Sanusi (cardiothoracic surgeon and founding member of ANPA who has relocated to Nigeria), financially assisted by the efforts of Katie Chandler of Bridge of Life (ANPA partner) through Go Fund Me, operated on successfully by Dr. Sanusi in Nigeria who is also graciously following him up.
This is the time to come together to build that next bridge of making ANPA relevant and effective in Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system working diligently, professionally and undistracted. ANPA can achieve this next milestone despite and in spite of Nigeria’s multiple political, social, ethnic and economic problems (similar to the achievement of Indians in Southeast Asia despite India’s intractable national problems) if we wrap our minds tightly around our vision and put the system(s) in place to accomplish our mission – SO HELP US GOD!
Abraham Osinbowale, MD
Chair, ANPA’s Advocacy Committee