• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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10 Nigerians developing health systems in diaspora


While Nigeria’s health system is gasping for breath amid a torrent of brain drain in the healthcare sector, high-profile health professionals of Nigerian descent are grinding hard to strengthen health systems in the diaspora.

From overseeing international health issues to training, researching, and rendering practical medical services, these Nigerians are using their impeccable skills to improve health outcomes on different levels.

Here are just 10 of them and how they are growing healthcare systems across the globe.

Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu
Chikwe Ihekweazu,

Assistant Director General of World Health Organization

Ihekweazu is currently the assistant director General for the Division of Health Emergency Intelligence and Surveillance Systems in the Emergencies Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO), leading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence.

He was the first director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and led the agency between 2016 and 2021. He led the transformation of the agency to one of the leading national public health agencies in the world.

Ihekweazu trained as an infectious disease epidemiologist and has over 25 years’ experience working in senior public health and leadership positions in several National Public Health Institutes, including NCDC, South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

He is a graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria and holds a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from the Heinrich-Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany. In 2003, he was awarded a Fellowship for the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) and subsequently completed his Public Health specialization at United Kingdom’s Faculty for Public Health.

Read also: Turning diaspora remittances from consumption and social support to investments

Adejoke Ayoola

Adejoke Ayoola
Adejoke Ayoola

Dean, Calvin University School of Health, US

Adejoke Ayoola is a Nigerian-born and trained professor of Nursing who was appointed the dean of Calvin University School of Health, United States in June 2022.

She is an accomplished scholar and leader who has made vast contributions to the research of community-based nursing, and maternal and infant health.

Ayoola who is a member of the American Association of Nurses, the Honors Society of Nursing, Sigma International, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society currently serves as a reviewer, and associate editor on the editorial board of 12 scholarly publications.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and acquired a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

She has been a member of Calvin’s faculty since 2007, supporting nursing and public health programs and most recently chairing the nursing department.

She served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar between 2012 and 2015, a program involving intensive leadership training in academic nursing. In 2020, she was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing.


Nneka Mobisson-Etuk

Nneka Mobisson-Etuk
Nneka Mobisson-Etuk, Co-founder & CEO of mDoc

Johannesburg, South Africa

Nneka Mobisson-Etuk is co-founder and CEO of mDoc, a social enterprise that integrates proven methodologies in quality improvement and behavioral science with web and mobile-based technology to optimize the end-to-end care experience for people living with chronic health needs such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

Prior to mDoc, she was executive director for Africa at Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a leading global health organization focused on healthcare quality improvement. Through her leadership, IHI dramatically expanded its efforts at building sustainable change in healthcare delivery systems in priority African countries.

A pediatrician by training, Nneka was previously Vice President of Community Health and Population Health Management at the Connecticut Hospital Association, where she provided leadership to hospitals in population health management.

At McKinsey & Company, she worked primarily in the area of strategy development for healthcare companies. At The World Bank, she worked on investing in private health care and developing the health care strategy for Africa.

She earned a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, her MPH from Emory University, and her MD/MBA from Yale University and completed her Pediatrics residency at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is a 2017 Cartier Awards Finalist and a 2014 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.


Phillip Ozuah

Phillip Ozuah
Phillip Ozuah, CEO, Montefiore Medicine, US

Phillip Ozuah is currently the chief executive officer (CEO) of Montefiore Medicine, the umbrella organization for Montefiore Health System (MHS), and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the United States.

The professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology has up to 25 years at Montefiore Medical Center, a hospital, providing care services in geriatrics, neurology, cardiology, immunology, oncology, pharmacy, radiology, surgery, and urology among others in the State of New York.

Ozuah expanded access for underserved communities, recruited and cultivated outstanding talent, advanced programs of excellence, fostered innovations in medical education, and improved financial and operational performance by integrating care across an evolving Montefiore system that sees more than six million patient interactions a year.

He has been recognized for excellence in teaching and patient care, including as an inductee into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and a two-time recipient of the Academic Pediatric Association’s prestigious Helfer Award for Innovation in Medical Education.

Ozuah graduated from the University of Ibadan, Oyo in 1985 and earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

In July, he donated $1 million to UI’s College of Medicine.


Tochi Iroku-Malize

Tochi Iroku-Malize
Tochi Iroku-Malize, President, American Academy of Family Physicians

Tochi Iroku-Malize, a family physician in Long Island, New York, is the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The AAFP represents 133,500 physicians and medical students nationwide. As AAFP president-elect, Iroku-Malize advocates on behalf of family physicians and patients to inspire positive change in the U.S. healthcare system.

Iroku-Malize serves as founding chair and professor of family medicine for the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead, New York, and senior vice president and chair of the family medicine service line for Northwell Health.

In this role, she oversees four family medicine residency programs, three fellowships, with more than 100 residents, 380 medical students and 500 family physicians spread across 23 hospitals.

She was previously the director of the family medicine residency program at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York. She was active in the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, which presented the Silver Program Director Recognition Award to her in 2015. She is currently a member of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and is active in the Association of Departments of Family Medicine.

Nwando Anyaoku


Nwando Anyaoku
Chief Equity Officer, Swedish Health Services


As the first chief health equity officer of the Swedish Health Services, Nwando Anyaoku oversees programs that promote culturally competent care, measure equity in care delivery and outcomes, and improve access for patients from all backgrounds.

Anyaoku joined Swedish in 2016 as the associate medical director of pediatrics and was promoted to the executive medical director of pediatrics the following year. Last year she became executive medical director of Medicaid strategy for population health.

Before joining Swedish, Anyaoku served as the system medical director of pediatric medicine at CHI Health in Omaha, Nebraska. She holds bachelor’s degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University, and an MBA from the University of Washington.

She currently serves on the boards of Neighborcare Health and HealthierHere.


Chinyere Anyaogu

Chinyere Anyaogu

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, New York Health + Hospitals/ Jacobi/North Central Bronx

Dr. Chinyere Anyaogu is an obstetrician-gynecologist who currently holds the office of the deputy chief medical officer at New York Health + Hospitals/ Jacobi/ North Central Bronx in Bronx, New York.

She received her medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

She is specialized in the woman’s reproductive tract, pregnancy, and childbirth. She is the current president of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA).

Anyaogu She received dual sub-specialty training in Internal Medicine and OBGYN at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She completed her master’s degree in Public Health at Columbia University and has a special interest in maternal mortality.

Adebola Giwa

Adebola Giwa
Adebola Giwa

Pediatric Endocrinologist with Johns Hopkins Children’s Center

Adebola Giwa is a fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a pediatric acute care children’s teaching hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

His clinical research involves multi-center clinical trials utilizing islet cell transplants to re-establish insulin production and other beta cell function in people with established Type 1 diabetes. His bench research is focused on identifying unconventional lymphocytes and studying their role in the pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes to possibly target them for future immunotherapies.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Giwa earned his Bachelor of Science degree with a Supplementary Major in Spanish at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

He completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital before beginning his fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at John Hopkins Children’s Center, where he currently works as a physician-scientist.

Pediatric endocrinology is a medical subspecialty dealing with disorders of the endocrine glands, such as variations of physical growth and sexual development in childhood, diabetes, and many more. Pediatric endocrinologists, depending upon the age range of the patients they treat, care for patients from infancy to late adolescence and young adulthood.

Adetunji Toriola


Adetunji Toriola
Adetunji Toriola


Professor of Surgery, Division of Public Health Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine

Adetunji Toriola has just been named a William H. Danforth Washington University Physician Scholar.

The professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is the second physician-researcher named as part of the School of Medicine’s new Physician-Scientist Investigators Initiative, which supports pioneering physician-scientists whose work already has transformed their fields.

Toriola is a molecular cancer epidemiologist who joined the faculty in 2012. In addition to his physician training, he also received further training in public health with an emphasis in cancer epidemiology and prevention.

As a public health scientist, Toriola is investigating ways to reduce the risk of premenopausal breast cancer and also colorectal cancer.

He is a principal investigator on two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – one funds research to understand the molecular basis of breast density and the mechanisms by which dense breasts increase the risk of breast cancer; the other, a MERIT Award, supports a phase 2 clinical trial evaluating whether targeting a signaling pathway can reduce breast density and levels of biomarkers known to increase breast cancer risk.

Nwamaka Eneanya

Nwamaka Eneanya
Nwamaka Eneanya

Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Nwamaka Eneanya is currently an attending nephrologist and assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to this, she was a nephrologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Eneanya completed her nephrology training at the combined Nephrology Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University, a medical degree from Meharry Medical College, and a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

She is a clinical investigator with research interests that center on palliative care, informed decision-making, and health equity among patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease.

Her work has been generously supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Society of Nephrology.

She has received national and international recognition for her research and clinical expertise and her work has been featured in prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA.

In 2018, she was the recipient of the Provost’s Faculty Opportunity Fund at the University of Pennsylvania.