On DFA Interview Series- Meet Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka a Renowned Medical Doctor and CEO/Founder of the Health for All Initiative (HAFAI).

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka, I am a Renowned Medical Doctor, Public Health Practitioner, Author, and the CEO/Founder of the Health for All Initiative (HAFAI). I have a Bachelor in Science (B.Sc) Degree in Microbiology, a Degree in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), and a Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

 

I also have a Certificate in Strengthening Community Health from Harvard University Boston Massachusetts USA, another Certificate in International Women’s Health and Human Rights from the Stanford University, USA, and a Certificate in Leadership and Management in Health from the University of Washington, USA.

 

Over the years, I have worked as a consultant for several International Organizations and I am very passionate about my work and always at the forefront of activities on Health Promotions Sensitization, Capacity Building, and Service Delivery to those in need.

 

I have represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and at the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women (UNCSW) Newyork, USA, where I was a forum speaker and Panelist. I have won several international awards, one of which is the prestigious Alexander Price for Women Award by the Common Wealth in the UK and the Here for Good Award by Laureate, the largest Global Network of U.K universities.

 

Tell us about your organization, impacts, and achievements since establishment?

The name of my organization is Health for All Initiative (HAFAI). Our vision is- To Build a Society where Everyone has an Opportunity and Right to a Healthy Life, while our mission is- Saving Lives Through Improved and Sustained Health Awareness Programs to those in Need as well as Bridging the Gap Between Policy, Knowledge and Action for People to Reach their Full potentials for Good Health.

 

The core programs of the organization are: 

School Club Programs: Advocacy programs in Schools using Training Manuals and Menstrual Hygiene Readers to Dispel Harmful Myths associated with Menstruation and Educating Girls about Sexual and Reproductive Health, Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights. Our Innovative Reusable Menstrual Hygiene Kits can last for up to two years, provides Girls with Sustainable Menstrual Hygiene Solutions, and helps keep Girls in School.

 Capacity Building Workshop for Principals and Teachers: We train these Educators on the need to educate the girls about Sexual Health issues and the importance of Sustaining the Club activities.

Community Programs (Underserved Communities including IDPs and VVF Centers):  Our Advocacy is Centered on Dispelling Myths around Menstruation and Female Genital Mutilation, Empower Women with machines and Starter packs and Training them on how to Sew and Market the locally Produced Menstrual kits and we also Provide information and Services on Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening and Family Planning Methods.

IMPACT OF OUR WORK:

We have distributed 22,750 reusable Menstrual Kits and Puberty readers and 750 Machines in Six States of Nigeria. Absence rates in the schools have dropped from 28.8% to 6.5%. Girls that use unhygienic Materials also dropped from 96.8% to 58.5%. 95% of the Women beneficiaries also reported a rise in their net income after the program.

 

What advice can you give to young people who want to build a career in the development sector?

Keep going and don’t be afraid to be the best you can be. It sounds cliché’ but it is true. Being a medical Doctor in the development circle makes you feel different but I have found that there is great value in being different and we should learn to celebrate these differences.

You cannot make a difference if you cannot think creatively and disrupt the status quo. Think or dream big, if you can’t, then go home. Believe in yourself, remember also that there is no replacement for sheer hard work and dedication. With passion, consistency, and the God Factor, anything is achievable.

 

What is the biggest challenge facing the health sector and what are your interventions so far?

There is a myriad of problems facing the health sector today and I really cannot put them to scale to know which is the biggest of them all.

We have the global issue of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant consequences to inaccessibility of quality health care, poor personnel and welfare funding, Corruption, reduced supply of medication, insufficient financial investments, poor health infrastructure, lack of sufficient health personnel, and poor hygiene amongst a few.

Well, as an organization that is focused on health promotion activities, we have done a lot of programs centered on hygiene education in schools, health centers, communities, and even in Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs).

We have donated health supplies to some health centers, we have trained traditional birth attendants and community health workers on Family planning and contraceptive usage.

We build strategic partnerships with community health workers and build their capacity and help them refine their skills in tune with best practices.

We train them on hygiene education, how to identify danger signs during ill health and delivery, Paediatric Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (PCPR), Breast Cancer Screening, family planning, etc.

 

Tell us two shocking things you’ve experienced about being a nonprofit leader?

As nonprofit leaders, we work with a lot of volunteers in the field. More often than not, people contact us via emails and our social media handles that they will like to participate in our programs.

It beats my imagination to see the attitude they display towards work. It is sad to say that a lot of our youths are unemployable. They are simply not ready to put their hand to the plow. They want quick fixes and easy money.

Secondly, during my work in hard-to-reach communities, the level of poverty and ignorance I see is very disheartening, to say the least. I once worked in a community where the men pass blood in their urine (a case of Schistosomiasis) because their source of drinking water was from a contaminated river.

The indigenes of the said community believed that the water tastes sweet and is a blessing from their ancestors.

It took a lot of hard work from us to dispel this harmful myth and misconception. This is just one out of the many cases that we encounter during our field projects.

 

How has been your participation in the inner circle program or other programs prepared you for opportunities ahead?

The inner-circle platform is a typical example of the slogan ‘The Big is in the Small’. It is a small circle of passionate development professionals with Big dreams and vision to change the narrative in their various spheres with a strong drive and zeal to do it right.

The inner-circle has helped me better understand the systems and structures necessary to run a nonprofit effectively, the importance of strategic partnerships, and how to leverage social media and marketing to build your brand.

I believe every nonprofit leader that wants to build a sustainable brand should participate in this forum.

 

Are there any ongoing projects your organization is working on at the moment? Please share it with us.

We have executed a lot of projects lately with UNICEF, UNFPA, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Days For Girls International, and several other international organizations but our most recent projects are with Rotary International and Global Glow USA.

The Rotary international project is a Global GrantFund which we won last year. It is called the Giving Girls Dignity project because it is primarily focused on Menstrual Hygiene Management, Breaking taboos around periods, training girls and women on issues around their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and Empowering women with skills to support their families.

We are working in Abuja in five schools, three communities, and two IDPs but we plan to scale up.

Our project with Global Glow is centered on building creative and leadership skills in girls and igniting their power as a force for global transformation.

We launched a Radio Program (HER STORY Radio program) during the lockdown to reach out to the girls and our radio show has reached out to over two million girls across Nigeria.

Currently, we work with schoolgirls and out-of-school girls in five states spread across Nigeria. We are also working on a few other projects which will excite our beneficiaries but we will let you know once the ink is dry on paper.

 

To know more about Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka and the amazing work she is doing, you can follow her organization on:

Website: http://hafai.org/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hafaing/

Facebook-http://www.facebook.com/hafainigeria

 

You can also connect with her on her personal handles:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dr.ugochi/

Twitter: http://@ugochiohajuruka

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-ugochi-ohajuruka-bsc-mbbs-mph-liverpool-25aa3067/

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