Kaduna Deputy Gov Advocates More Women’s Participation in Healthcare

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…As Okoli, Awosika, Zamba, Others Win EWAH Awards 2024

Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, deputy governor, Kaduna State (middle), receiving an award plaque and certificate from Pharm. (Mrs) Clare Omatseye, chairperson of EWAH’s Advisory Board; Sir Stanley Evans, past president of the British Business Group; and Pharm. (Mrs) Bisi Bright, Regional Representative for EWAH Awards Africa, at the EWAH Awards 2024, in Lagos.

The Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe has said that more women participation in healthcare would help boost healthcare delivery in the country, adding that they should strive for excellence in healthcare and all spheres of life to change the disadvantaged position often bestowed on them.

According to her, most times women are expected to double men’s efforts for them to be recognised, adding that many have successfully shattered barriers and achieved great heights.

The Deputy Governor made this known while speaking at the 2024 Extraordinary Women Advancing Healthcare Awards (EWAH 2024), held at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, where 10 Nigerian women, including the Dr Balarabe were recognised and celebrated for their significant contributions in the Nigerian healthcare sector.

Addressing other award recipients, Balarabe, who boasts 30 years of experience in public health, and has excelled as a public health physician, consultant, administrator and politician, said the recognition is highly appreciated, adding that it will spur the awardees on to do more.

“We have put in our best, but we know that what we have done is still not enough, considering the state of things in Nigeria, so we'll continue to put in so much more effort because we will not want to fail ever. This is a torch that we're carrying, and I hope that will continue to light the way.

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She further encouraged the younger generation, asserting, “Your dreams will come to fruition. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals. On behalf of all awardees, we pledge to continue working tirelessly for the betterment of health and the greater good of Nigeria.” she said.

A cross-section of the award recipients, and board members at the EWAH Award 2024, held at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

In her welcome address, Pharm. (Mrs) Clare Omatseye, chairperson, of EWAH’s Advisory Board, and CEO of JNCI Limited, stated that the story of the 10 amazing awardees would be an inspiration for other women out there, adding that EWAH is a Commonwealth Institute Programme now known as the Women’s Edge designed to highlight the inequities in the health system, particularly at the top.

According to Omatseye, the award which is the second in a series was meant to honour 10 exceptional women who have made remarkable strides in various healthcare fields, adding that the EWAH Award aimed to inspire more women to enter healthcare careers and pursue leadership roles.

She said EWAH is more than just an award ceremony but serves as a powerful call to action for all stakeholders in the Nigerian healthcare system, stressing the need for increased investment in healthcare education, particularly in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) for young women.

In his speech, the Past President of the British Business Group, Sir Stanley Evans MBE stated that the EWAH Awards differ from most conventional awards, as the awardees do not necessarily need to be healthcare professionals themselves, adding it was for 10 women who were impactful, across diverse sections of healthcare, from public health and policy to community health education and leadership, and from academia and research through healthcare industry manufacturing and distribution.

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He continued, “Behind every successful man is a woman. My mother also told me many years ago that if you want a job done properly, you get a woman to do it. We've just had an election in Britain, and I'm delighted to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that 40 per cent of the politicians elected were female for the first time in our history, so, what we've witnessed this evening is the beginning of something very great to come,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Pharm. (Mrs) Bisi Bright, the CEO of LiveWell Initiative and Regional Representative for EWAH Awards Africa, said the main purpose of the Awards was to create national and international recognitions for emerging, dynamic healthcare leaders who are women, adding that the purpose was to celebrate and appreciate the power of women to change the world.

According to Bright, a key aspect of the EWAH Awards is the “miles-to-go mindset,” which recognises women who are not only making a difference today but are also committed to ongoing improvement, saying, unlike typical awards with public nominations and voting, the EWAH Awards feature a curated selection process to identify exceptional women across various healthcare roles, from community health workers to medical professionals and even community leaders.

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A total of 10 women healthcare leaders were honoured at the event. They were: Dr Stella Okoli, founder and group managing director of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, a leading Pharmaceutical giant founded in 1977, who bagged the Lifetime Achievement Award; Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, a Nigerian politician and incumbent deputy governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria, as well as first female deputy-governor in Kaduna state; Fola Laoye, an alumnus of Harvard Business School, and a co-founder and the CEO of Iwosan Investments.

Others were, Dr Ajoritsedere Awosika, a Nigerian businesswoman, and honorary consul general to the Hague, Netherlands; Dr Temitope Ilori, the first female director-general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in Nigeria (NACA); Pharm. Zainab Ujudud Shariff, founder of the first Herbal Pharmacy in Nigeria; Dr Emmanuella Zamba, permanent secretary of the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA); Mrs Nkeiruka Obi, vice-president and regional director for Africa, Smile Train; Mrs Lois Auta, a disability inclusion and development expert; and Edidiong Okon Asanga, who was recently named among the Top 100 Nurses worldwide by the Commonwealth Nurses Association.

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