My name is Dr. Noimot Balogun. I am a Public health communication expert, and lecturer.
I am an African lady who believes in Africa as a land where dreams can become realities. As such, I am actualizing my dream to improve communities-health systems relationship through communication. The operational means that I am using to achieve this are research, technology, and stakeholders’ engagement.
WHAT FUELS ME?
Determination, Purpose, Vision
My determination was borne by the experience of witnessing 4 deaths of women in my neighborhood. One common thing I observed was the fact that they all died as a result f complications at the different non-formal places where they were using for ante natal care. As an adolescent at this time, I wondered why these women would prefer non formal health facilities when formal facilities were within the neighborhood, thus the decision to study a medical course. However, years in medical school brought the realization of a medical community which is not equipped with communications skills to work as a health team in itself and to engage and retain the communities they are supposed to serve. This led to a clear Purpose of gaining academic and professional skills in population health and communication. Thus with a Masters in Public Health, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Media and Communication; the Vision to redefine the narrative of health care delivery in Nigeria and beyond became clearer and the need became surer. My projects, my articles, advocacy and my research has since being in the area of fixing the communication gap between communities and the health systems. I hope that these different projects with a common goal will culminate as a research basis for a PhD in Health promotions and communication in other to further use evidence based research to redefine the narrative of health care delivery in Africa.
In a descriptive summary, I am currently working on a product that can improve access of communities to basic Primary health care using mobile technology; I am an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of health technology, so as to facilitate research in the Communities-health systems interaction, and triggers of health decisions among populations. I am also currently coordinating the 1st Communication in Health platform, a platform for health professionals and medical students established to promote collaboration of these health stakeholders with other social influencers across Africa. All these interactions will eventually coalesce to connect the different stakeholders of health in Africa.
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
What has had the greatest and profound influence on me is the thin line between survival and deaths based on the health decisions people make. Health decisions from my observation are based on who is able to sell health care best to the people, which takes us back to communication. In other words, the survival of a child with a serious case of diarrhea or vomiting is highly dependent on the health care decision made by the parents on behalf of the child. Thus communicating with the people to make the right health decision is key to survival and should be a National priority.
MY TOP THREE ROLE MODELS:
In my faith; Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet. She was a successful business woman by all standards, and yet she was reported to be a supportive pillar to her family. This gives me a religious confidence that I can become successful in my career while giving the best of me to my family.
In my career, Dr Josef Bel Molokwu. He made me see the importance of Community relations as the bedrock of sustainable relationships in health.
Professor Dora Akinluyi. Her legacy in NAFDAC shows that sanitizing institutions is critical to achieving sustainable development. As an aspiring policy maker, I also believe that the sanitization of our institutions are key to making real impact in the population.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS…..
My envisioned goal in the next 5 years is to be the foremost researcher, advocate and product strategist who is using evidence-based facts to strengthen Communities- health systems relationships while also being a formidable policy advisor who is promoting communication to be a core area of training in medical schools and other health institutions.
THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
One of the challenges African women face is having to trade off their personal dreams and aspirations for a lot of things. My own contribution to remedy this is that I mentor teenagers and young adults on the need to discover themselves, their ambitions and assess the compromises they make in relation to these dreams in the nearest future. I also invite some of these people to join platforms which focus on self development and goal setting.
WHAT I DO TO RELAX:
I get tension off by having a ‘Me’ time where I just sit, munch some snacks while watching TV. It makes me get the stress behind me and appreciate my self and the goodies around.
MY – I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
An African woman should be inspired, celebrated and empowered because of her unique awesomeness of becoming influencers despite all the odds. From the formal to the informal settings, you see an African woman still doing heroic acts even with the many other things that seem to restrict her. For an African woman, giving up may not be an option.
MY AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
If I had the opportunity, I would want to work in the Community relations team in order to facilitate household research looking at the different social determinants within the communities. This is because the research of the African woman is not totally showcasing the true situations that define their potentials. With my activities in Community relations, I have recognized unconscious bias which has led to some African women have not been recognized based on their conservative settings. These people ironically are however making great impacts within their networks and can serve as role models for others with the same social variables.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
My advice for the women folk is that who you know may open the door, but it what you know that keeps you within the room to success and recognition. Continuous personal development is what guarantees value and when value is showcased in you, then the African women will always rise above odds to achieve success.