National Centre of African Health Observatory Platform completes kickoff meeting for documentation of Nigeria’s Health System and Services Profile

By HPRG News
Nigeria’s health system is on a path of growth and keeps evolving. Information about the country’s health system is fragmented, which has occasioned the need for rapid harmonization led by the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP). The Country Health System and Services Profile (CHSSP) will provide an in-depth description and analysis of Nigeria’s health system and services. It is likewise being conducted in Rwanda, Senegal, Kenya, and Ethiopia, which will provide the basis for comparing the health system and services’ performance across these five countries. The CHSSP is designed to be a key reference document for a wide audience including country-level policy-makers, technical staff, researchers, and development partners. They are intended to provide relevant country-specific and comparative information to support policymaking, analysis, and implementation of approaches related to the re-engineering of health systems and services in the African region.
To commence documenting Nigeria’s CHSSP, the Health Policy Research Group (HPRG), University of Nigeria, which hosts the Nigerian National Centre of AHOP conducted its kickoff meeting to prepare authors for the task ahead. The meeting took place at Hotel Sylvia, Enugu, from 13th – 15th June 2022. Partners with the HPRG on the CHSSP project were in attendance, and they include Veritas University, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria (FMoH), and a representative of the World Health Organisation.

Nigeria’s CHSSP Authors
 
During the meeting, Dr. Enyi Etiaba who is the Project Manager of AHOP in Nigeria emphasized the overall goals of AHOP in the directions of knowledge synthesis and evidence translation, as she stated that the CHSSP is one of the outputs of the stated goals. She used this opportunity to ensure that all CHSSP authors are aligned with the ideals of AHOP, even as they work on the CHSSP project.
Dr Enyi Etiaba introducing AHOP and CHSSP

Documenting the CHSSP will need a uniform reference manager. The gathering was an opportunity for all authors to run through the endnote reference manager, as the approved reference manager for CHSSP documentation. Facilitated by Dr Chinyere Mbachu, authors successfully downloaded the endnote reference manager, went through step-by-step process of uploading reference materials and sources into it, and could make citations as they write. Authors are expected to make use of the Harvard Referencing Style throughout their writing.
Dr Chinyere Mbachu facilitating a session on Endnote reference manager

In addition to the above, CHSSP authors were introduced to the AHOP writing style by Dr Enyi Etiaba. Important points to note include the use of British style (e.g., use organisation instead of organization), dates should be written without punctuation signs, large figures should be written using spaces as against commas, health care should be written as “health care” and not “healthcare”, hyphenate “evidence-based” when used as an adjective but write without the hyphen when used as a noun, etc. Click here to download AHOP writing style guide.
At about noon time, authors had a virtual meeting with the CHSSP Editors from the London School of Economics (LSE) and WHO-African Region (WHO-AFRO). Concerns drawn from the 11 Chapters of the CHSSP were listed and clarified. The 11 chapters comprise the overall context of Nigeria; organization and governance of the health system; health financing; health workforce; medical products and health technologies; health infrastructure and equipment; service delivery; health information and information systems; performance of the health system (outputs); health services coverage and system outcomes; conclusion and key considerations. The meeting with LSE and WHO-AFRO helped resolved grey areas. It was agreed that authors should keep in touch with the Editors as they write, and lead authors will participate in a monthly meeting with LSE and WHO-AFRO for the duration of the writing stage of the CHSSP project. Also, the overall lead author from the National Centre must go through submissions before they get to the Editors.

Cross-section of CHSSP Authors meeting virtually with LSE and WHO-AFRO
 
Authors agreed with the Editors on the need to concentrate on national-level data given the timeframe of production and AHOP’s concentration on secondary sources of data. To help the authors, there are some materials in the SharePoint for this project. All authors now have access to the SharePoint. It was also agreed that more time will be allotted to the completion of Chapters 9 and 10 since they are dependent on the completion of the fore chapters. Authors were reminded to concentrate more on the Excel spreadsheet for needed information than the writing template, as some information in the latter may be wrong. Click to download the slides of LSE/WHO-AFRO
According to Professor Obinna Onwujekwe who heads the HPRG and leads the AHOP Nigerian National Centre, the CHSSP when concluded will be both means and end, in the sense that its recommendations will be used for health system strengthening towards the achievement of the health-related SDG targets, especially Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. As a means, it will also serve as evidence-base for the development of the 3rd National Health Sector Development Plan (NSHDP III), a resource for the planned Nigeria Health Sector Reform Programme and the national UHC plan. It will also provide the required information for the development or revision of policies and strategies in the health sector in Nigeria.
Prince Agwu commented on the dissemination of the CHSSP, which will target academia, policymakers, frontline practitioners, communities, media, and civil societies. Strategies for dissemination will keep evolving and will be cross-sectoral.
More on capacity building, CHSSP authors were taken through data sourcing strategies by Prince Agwu and Uche Ezenwaka. The use of Boolean Operators, introduction to new search engines and databases and the use of keywords were discussed extensively. Uche introduced CHSSP authors to janebiosemantics. On specific data from the Federal Ministry of Health, Martins Otuamah took CHSSP authors through specific databases that will be of help in the documentation process. And finally, on capacity building, Prof BSC Uzochukwu, an HPRG and AHOP National Centre lead took authors through academic writing and production of policy briefs. Authors were exposed to non-linear methods of academic writing and the rationale behind building quality academic arguments. This was one of the high points of the CHSSP meeting.
Download presentation on data sourcing strategies
Download presentation on data sourcing from the Federal Ministry of Health
Download presentation on academic writing and policy brief
On the side, we took this opportunity to go through the projects being worked on by our partners (Veritas University and Nigeria Institute of Medical Research [NIMR]). Dr Chinyere Okeke moderated the presentations from both bodies, and comments were taken after the presentations. Veritas University represented by Ifeanyi Chikezie presented “Assessing the status of state-supported social health insurance schemes in Gombe state, Nigeria”, while NIMR represented by Adewale Ojogbede presented “Utilization of Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme”.
In all, the National Centre is looking forward to 7th July 2022 for first submissions, and 14th and 15th July 2022 for a second workshop that will focus on writing. “We are hopeful authors will stick to the timeframe, and will produce top-quality chapters, which is the signature of the HPRG. Otherwise, we may be forced to substitute authors if and when needed”, as said by the Nigerian AHOP lead, Prof Obinna Onwujekwe.
 
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University of Nigeria dazzles in latest global science ranking

By HPRG News
 
Research.com, a prominent academic platform for scientists, has just published the 2022 Edition of its Global Ranking of Top 1000 Scientists in the area of Social Sciences and Humanities. Three academics from the University of Nigeria, including the University, made the list. Professors Obinna Onwujekwe, Benjamin Uzochukwu, and Jude Ohaeri ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively in Nigeria, and 892, 3052, and 4039 on the globe, respectively. Also, the University of Nigeria is the lone university in Nigeria that made it to the top 400 on the globe in terms of research outputs from the social sciences and humanities. The University of Nigeria is ranked 305 in the world and 1st in Nigeria.
 
The green entrance of the University of Nigeria
 
Professors Obinna Onwujekwe, Benjamin Uzochukwu, and Jude Ohaeri have long been listed as tops in several global ratings of scientists. A Google Scholar search on Professor Obinna Onwujekwe as of 9th June 2022, shows that he has 22,287 citations, 54 h-index, and 210 i10-index. While Professor Benjamin Uzochukwu has 25,025 citations, 46 h-index, and 133 i10-index. Unfortunately, we could not retrieve that of Professor Jude Ohaeri at the time of writing. Speaking to Professors Obinna and Benjamin, we can confirm that the duo are not resting or retiring any time soon from active research, especially, implementation research. They are of the view that governance and development rise on the availability and utilization of scientific evidence, and fall on the dearth and weak recognition of it.
 
Professor Obinna Onwujekwe
 
Professors Obinna Onwujekwe and Benjamin Uzochukwu run the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria, which is famous for the production of cutting-edge scientific evidence. It is equally a hub for the nurturing of young scientists. Both Professors remain committed to mentorship, as they look forward to young scientists from Africa carving a niche for themselves in global science.
 
Professor Benjamin Uzochukwu
 
The ranking by Research.com is constructed using the H-index data gathered by Microsoft Academic and includes only prominent scientists with an H-index of at least 30 for scientific papers published in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Professor Jude Ohaeri
 
You can see the full world ranking here: https://research.com/scientists-rankings/social-sciences-and-humanities
You can find the entire ranking for Nigeria here: https://research.com/scientists-rankings/social-sciences-and-humanities/ng
As quoted from the words of Imed Bouchrika for Research.com, “… this is indeed an important accomplishment for you and your university”. The Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria joins in congratulating its noble Professors and the University of Nigeria, as it continues in its restoration of man’s dignity!

 

How countries can make progress towards UHC after transitioning out of DAH: Lessons from Nigeria

By Shalom Obi, Osondu Ogbuoji, Wenhui Mao, Minahil Shahid, Gavin Yamey, and Obinna Onwujekwe
 
In the coming years, about a dozen middle-income countries are expected to transition out of development assistance for health (DAH). This is so because the eligibility criteria set by most multilateral donors are based on income per capita or rise in GDP. However,  an increase in income per capita does not necessarily mean a reduction in disease burden. For example, despite an increase in GDP, Nigeria still stands out as very unprepared for the upcoming transition, based on poor health indicesvery low domestic financing for health, and poor government commitment to health.
 
Nigeria is vulnerable to setbacks, in event of health-focused donors exiting its health funding space because the country struggles with a low per capita income, debt burden, weak capacity to efficiently use public resources, limited and less effective health systems, and weak governance and public institutions. More so, considering the low government funding for health (see Figure 1 below), the impending financial gap will most likely shift to out-of-pocket spending which constitutes 75.2% of total health expenditure. This will be catastrophic and may drive more of the vulnerable population below the poverty line. The decline in donor funding has already been reflected in suboptimal service delivery and health service users are now having to pay for previously free-of-charge services. 
Figure 1: Trend of Domestic General Government Health Expenditure (GGHE-D) Global Health Expenditure Database
 
The more currently appropriated funds for health are not subject to high-level accountability, the effects on the vulnerable may likely to be grave, further drawing the country away from achieving UHC. With changes in DAH and impending transitions, there is an urgent need for sustainable solutions, as stakeholders must begin to think about how to fund healthcare when external funds decrease or end.
 
For evidence-driven transitioning, away from DAH, stakeholders may wish to refer to a qualitative research that used Vogus and Graff’s expanded framework for evaluating the readiness of Nigeria’s transition. Unfortunately, the illustrated gaps (see Figure 2) identified in the study show that Nigeria is not currently prepared to sustain donor-funded programs and make progress if/when donors leave.

Figure 2: Gaps – using Vogus and Graff’s expanded framework for evaluating country readiness for transition of donor-funded health programs to domestic ownership (Vogus and Graff, 2015)
 
The above framework shows clearly that Nigerian health system is mostly unprepared to transition out of DAH and make progress towards UHC. This is predominantly due to policy implementation gaps, unaccountability and corruption, and a lack of initial transition plans at the onset of health programs.
 
Policy implication
To overcome the challenges and bottlenecks that hinder policy implementation and close these gaps,
  • Policymakers should consider the feasibility, sustainability, and accountability of policy implementation during the policy process. They should ensure that there are feasible road maps for apt implementation of pro-UHC policies.
  • Secondly, crucial steps must be taken to ensure that transition plans are factored into program planning from the onset, and not as an addendum. A well-grounded health plan that puts transition in perspective is needed to foster sustainability and progress towards UHC at the time of transition.
  • Nigeria must also endeavor to make political commitment to health – at least improve from current 5% of annual budget allocated to the health sector, while racing toward the 15% commitment as promised in the Abuja declaration of 2001. This will enable the country to integrate healthcare programs and build the overall health system to transition smoothly out of various donor programs, whilst making progress towards UHC. Meeting this commitment has become even more critical given the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Lessons for upcoming transitioning countries
Upcoming cohort of transitioning countries should have a robust transitioning plan in place to sustain gains of donor funds and make progress toward UHC. Transition plans should not be an afterthought, but a well-incorporated aspect of health programs’ plans. Therefore, donors and recipient countries should ensure that transition plans are built into health programs at the planning stage. Furthermore, it is not enough for upcoming transitioning countries to have pro-UHC policies, they should also have roadmaps for implementation, with broad stakeholder involvement. It is also crucial for such countries to give careful consideration to increasing their fiscal space for domestic funding for health, integration of health programs, and building the overall health system. This will engender sustainability and ensure progress towards UHC at the time of transition. Donors and recipient countries should endeavor to have inbuilt transition plans to give direction to program implementation and enable institutionalization of service delivery processes for continuity.
 
Conclusively, to manage transitions from DAH and make progress towards UHC, the Nigerian government needs to identify and address implementation gaps, as well as systematic gaps in using domestic resources for financing critical health services. Policymakers should identify clear road maps for the implementation of the existing pro-UHC policies. Furthermore, funds should be redirected to building the overall system—consolidating and coordinating programs and linking them into the overall health system, health financing priorities, and policies. Instead of continuing to invest in parallel programs, a comprehensive and functional structure for continuity, one that will be robust enough to withstand decreasing external funds or donor exits, should be developed at the national and sub-national levels as a matter of urgency.
 
Shalom Obi is a Research Fellow at the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria, with focus on health policy research and community health systems.
Obinna Onwujekwe is a Professor of Health Economics, Systems and Policies at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. He is the Chief Editor of the African Journal of Health Economics, and the Coordinator of the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria. He also coordinates the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) for Health Systems, Nigeria Center.
Acknowledgement: We thank Dr Godstime Eigbiremolen for the review of the blog

Policy Dialogue between African Health Observatory and stakeholders in Nigeria’s Health Financing

Central to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is to improve service coverage, financial access, and financial protection for health service users. Concerned about Nigeria’s slow pace toward UHC, the Nigerian National Centre (NC) of the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) organized a policy dialogue (PD) that brought together key members of the National Healthcare Financing (HCF) and equity Technical Working Group (TWG) (HCF-TWG) and FMOH to discuss the current policy issues on health financing (interest on health financing governance and domestic resource mobilization (DRM)), with a focus on UHC. The dialogue was to brainstorm about the future directions in terms of strategic activities or actions that will be taken to make a change in the context of strengthening the Nigerian health system and achieving UHC. The dialogue explored how to specifically enhance efforts towards achieving UHC in Nigeria through domestic funding lenses and improved health financing governance.

The participant for the dialogue comprised 17 people drawn from the NC (HPRG) and the National HCF-TWG: FMoH (5), International/Development partners (4), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) (2), NC (5), and Academia (1).

Click here to download the comprehensive report

Photo representation of participants

 

COVID-19 containment and coordination strategies in Nigeria and lessons from four other African countries

COVID-19 pandemic will forever remain a major disruption of global activities and lifestyles. However, conversations have rapidly shifted from the dreadedness of the pandemic to the actions and inactions of systems in combating its spread and ameliorating its devastating effects. The pandemic appears to have affected different locations differently, of which there are clinical, public health, economic and social explanations to such dynamics. While it looks as though Africa has one of the least occurrences of fatalities arising from COVID-19, it is never in doubt that the continent has had its fair share of the effects of the pandemic, and some have indeed been extreme. Therefore, to encourage better health emergency responses, it is needful to reflect. The continent needs to look inward to understand its strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and prospects, for the purpose of improving its public health space and better positioned to challenge health emergencies, going forward.

Inspired by the African Health Observatory – Platform on Health Systems and Policies (AHOP), COVID-19 containment and coordination strategies across five African countries, including Nigeria, were evaluated. As quoted from an AHOP document: “[…] Threats of new variants loom and low vaccination coverage raises questions on the future of the response to COVID-19. Prevention remains the key strategy in most sub-Saharan countries. Below, five National Centres (NCs) from the African Health Observatory Platform on Health Systems and Policies (AHOP), based in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal, reflect on lessons to be learnt from their coordination and containment responses in the initial phases. They construct timelines to highlight the policies and challenges associated with introducing a range of public health containment measures and discuss the extent to which these measures continue to be valuable given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.”

To read the report on COVID-19 coordination strategies across the five African countries, kindly click here to download

And to read the report on COVID-19 containment strategies across the five African countries as well, kindly click here to download

You can consider publishing a blog with HPRG. See image below for details.

Understanding the complementary relationships and roles of Integrated African Health Observatory (iAHO) and African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP)

The Ministerial Conference on Research for Health in the African Region, held in Algiers from 23 to 26 June 2008, adopted the Algiers Declaration renewing the commitment of Member States to strengthen national health research, information systems and knowledge management systems to improve health in the African Region. The Algiers Declaration offers a framework to narrow the knowledge gap and thereby improve knowledge generation and the use of knowledge to inform policies, strategies, and actions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) started work on health observatories in the African region in 2010 when it established the African Health Observatory (AHO).1 This followed the 2009 recommendation of the Regional Committee for Africa (AFR/RC59/5).2 In November 2012, during the sixty-second session of the Regional Committee for Africa (RC62) held in Luanda, health ministers of the African Region agreed to establish national health observatories in their respective countries and adopted the resolution entitled “The African Health Observatory: an opportunity to strengthen health information systems through national health observatories.” With the support of the AHO, several countries are developing their national health observatories (NHOs) to strengthen their national health information systems and promote the use of data for better action.

AHO is the regional observatory based and managed by WHO/AFRO. It brings together all the key information (Data – Analytics – Knowledge) on the WHO African region and on the 47 member states. It is a one-stop shop for standardized and validated information at both national and international levels with clear information on data sources. The NHOs are national declinations of the AHO and strengthen the national health information system. They thus contribute to reducing fragmentation and making key information available in a one-stop shop at national and sub-national levels. The institutional anchorage varies from country to country, but in the region, there are three groups: (i) integrated as a structure in the Information System/Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Health, (ii) integrated as a unit attached to the General Secretariat or the Minister’s Office, or (iii) integrated as a fully-fledged structure attached to the Prime Ministry.

Click here to download the full document

AHOP Writing Style

Researchers working across National Centres of AHOP are to write in a particular style that is consistent with the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) and World Health Organisation (WHO). The AHOP’s abridged version of the full WHO editorial style manual, which draws on the abridged style guides used by WHO Africa Regional Office (AFRO) and the European Observatory on Health Systems & Policies can be downloaded below. The style guide aims to ensure correctness, consistency, impartiality, and credibility across AHOP outputs, both electronic and print, and offers guidance on avoiding the most common stylistic errors. Please, note that this guide is a living document and will be adapted as further decisions are made on AHOP style across the various outputs. It is intended to be used alongside the full WHO Style Guide. Both Guides are expected to guide persons who write across the AHOP project.

Click here to download abridged AHOP Writing Style Guide

Click here to download the broader WHO Writing Style Guide

 

 

COVID-19 and crowding out of essential healthcare services: HPRG presents @ 37th Scientific Conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria

The Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) held its annual scientific conference at Abuja, Nigeria. The conference featured over 55 selected abstracts from a large pool of submissions. HPRG, under the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) presented a synthesis of findings from secondary sources on “crowding out of essential healthcare services amidst COVID-19”. The presentation was made by some members from the AHOP Nigeria Centre. They include Chinyere Okeke, Uche Ezenwaka, Chinelo Obi, Benjamin Uzochukwu, and Obinna Onwujekwe.
 
The well-researched presentation highlighted the huge burden of COVID-19 on the Nigerian health system, which overwhelmed health resources, with severe impacts on essential healthcare services (EHS). There were mentions of preventable health complications and mortalities that resulted from a somewhat overstretch of health resources. The scholars argued the need for a study of this kind to document the “why” of crowding out of healthcare services during disease outbreaks, and the responses that are expected. The implication of this study to the strengthening of health systems building blocks such as service delivery and governance cannot be overstated.

 

Click here to download the full presentation

 
Acknowledgement: African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP)

“Everyone!! wants to read a blog but your scholar-colleagues want to read your journal paper”: Research communication for wider reach

Prince Agwu & Obinna Onwujekwe

It is common to find editors of journals ask scholars to make their research papers appeal to a wider readership. By this, they imply that scholars should move away from a narrow lens, which could be their disciplines, communities or countries as target readers and users of their research findings. When these papers are finally published with a wider readership in mind, they might end up just with co-academics who are doing related studies or students researching around the subject. Hence, they circulate just within the academic walls, and at best, might fetch scholars some Google or Scopus citations and/or reads from ResearchGate. So, is that the reason we should publish our research?

If undergoing strenuous activities from research conceptualization to data collection, analysis and presentation, and at last, publishing in a peer-reviewed journal after tons of revision, would end up just with colleagues or researching students, then scholars might just agree to take off the “problem solving” description attached to the meaning of research. We know most persons within the league of the above-mentioned groups might not have the wherewithal to readily move our studies into practice. Thus, there is an urgent need to spread the “reach” of our studies and expand their ends to attract practicable impacts that should be the highest fulfilment for scholars. And if we must start this conversation, we should begin by asking ourselves this question – who reads our research?

Blogs or Publications??

We should be frank enough to accept that many of our students will happily read a news editorial than our publications just because they would not want to be fixed in an academic hotbed which our publications reflect. A handful will prefer to read novels than our 15-paged publications, for the obvious reason that they seem to have a dislike for the stress academics puts them through which we know is typical of publications. Besides, we might have noticed that the many in-text citations that dot our publications are scary to these groups of non-academics but sits just fine with academics.

Have you ever tried to pass a publication to a politician, a public office holder, or an important community actor? Have you tried to gauge their reactions, especially in climes like Africa where reading is “death” to many? Yet these public office holders and community actors would happily read a simple writeup published in a daily or a Facebook post or one of these shared writeups on WhatsApp. And we know that most of these public office holders and community actors are important stakeholders in the practical utilization of the knowledge from our studies. When they are well involved, they can help push knowledge from our studies into physical realities. Therefore, appealing to these groups of persons should be a vital part of our research, and in this article, we share the sentiments that blogs can do the job.

Quick stats!!

In 2018 and 2020, we published two articles in The Conversation a famous blog outlet, while the larger study was published in Health Policy and Planning a popular health policy and systems research journal. We discovered that as of April 2021, each of our articles in the blog outlet got over 6200 reads and counting, while the journal article got below 4500 page views and not up to 1000 downloads, even that it was published before the second blog article. See images below:

Statistics of readership from The Conversation
Statistics of views from Health Policy and Planning

Are scholars bothered?

In a study, scholars agreed to declare an academic emergency in the world of scholarship. They said, scholars must come together to discuss among themselves the need for seamless research communication, condensing research outputs into easy-to-read formats. These professionals shared the sentiment that their studies are often for a clique of co-academic, even when they know that non-academic groups and policymakers would immensely benefit from the wealth of knowledge and evidence their researches offer. They cited that the journalist would easily reach the hearts of communities and policymakers than the academic because of the seamless and easy-to-read way they adopt in the communication of knowledge. Interestingly, they had a consensus to evolve their research communication by introducing formats with which the public can easily relate, and they include blogs, infographics, cartooning, animation, filming, etc. Unfortunately, most academics are not inclined to these outlets.

Doing blogs is never less professional!!

Scholars are known for jargons, and you can find many of them in their published studies. We know how jargons stall the passage of information. So, a health scientist might be interested in econometrics, then he or she stumbles on a paper in that regard but gets discouraged to read further because the concepts are too high and difficult to relate with. This is where the power of a blog is made manifest. It is a rule of thumb that blog writers should have a college fresher in mind. The jargons and the high-handed knowledge must be condensed to what the college fresher can read and grasp.

Would scholars not be pleased if the big concepts are made so understandable to all? Please, we do not attempt to neglect the importance of keeping the writing professional and appealing to peers on that level but we feel that there is more to just the academic community. You can try to issue an editorial from a daily and a journal publication to your teenage son or daughter, and judge which will appeal more to them. Stretching the readership of our publications beyond our academic colleagues to the non-academic groups is an evolving responsibility for scholars. And blogs aim to marry these ends, which in turn will benefit the expansion and practicability of our research.

We cannot deny that there is a rapid change in the academic industry with a focus on research communication. We have seen big agencies sponsoring blog outlets and academic institutions building blogs into their various academic communities. Amidst these changes, many are yet to embrace this evolution. A core reason is that these blogs might not count as a part of their promotion criteria or that blogs do not reveal them in their professional regalia, because of how common and down-to-earth the blog writer is forced to sound.

Getting promoted is a good sight and revelling in your professional regalia through the appropriate use of jargons and concepts could account for a quality scholar. But should it be all about ourselves? Should we not think of our research impacts transcending beyond the academic walls? Are we comfortable being known, respected and hailed just among co-scholars? Are we concerned about those who need “quick-reads” and not our “too serious” academic papers? Also, are we fair and just knowing that our academic publications could be closed-access and so much money needed to gain access?

We conclude!!

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if your students come to class to celebrate your piece published in a blog that they found on Twitter? Or a village-head expressing gratitude for your article he or she read on a daily? Or a policymaker talking about how your blog was a quick go-to while in a meeting where important decisions were reached? And importantly, that our condensed research outputs in blog formats increase accessibility for those without the money to pay “subscription fees” to quality studies? We believe it will make more sense to you to share a blog link to the WhatsApp group of your community chiefs than to share an academic publication there, and you can tell the reason if truthful to yourself. It is important that academics come to know that the academic community is not just the target end for research, and there is more to the “reach”. And in that “more” lies the ultimate!

Obinna Onwujekwe is a Professor of Health Economics, Systems and Policies at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. He is the Chief Editor of the African Journal of Health Economics, and the Coordinator of the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria. He also coordinates the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) for Health Systems, Nigeria Center.

Prince Agwu is an academic at the Department of Social Work, University of Nigeria and a research associate at the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria. He holds a Commonwealth PhD Position at the University of Dundee, Scotland, and he is the Communication Lead for the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) for Health Systems, Nigeria Center.

See our call for blog articles:

Strengthening Health Systems and Policy Research in Nigeria: African Health Observatory Platform [AHOP] Nigeria Centre meets with Partners

The Nigeria National Centre of AHOP (Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria) held a two-day inaugural with their three National AHOP Partners- The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Veritas University Abuja and the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), from 02-03 December 2020. The AHOP concept, goals and objectives were shared with the partners. The partners also shared their previous and on-going experiences of generating Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) evidence and getting research into Policy and Practice (GRIPP). This was followed by a brainstorming session, to propose tasks in the next steps to generate evidence with a focus on Universal Health Coverage. Partners committed to, in the first instance, developing a clear institutional framework for engaging with AHOP over the project period and beyond, identifying current strengths, weaknesses, and ideas for further capacity building. The Nigeria NC is happy to have been able to eventually hold this meeting, which was originally scheduled for April, 2020 but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Present at the meeting were:

Obinna Onwujekwe – Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria

Benjamin Uzochukwu – Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria

Enyi Etiaba – Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria

Chinyere Mbachu – Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria

Chinyere Okeke – Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria

Chikezie Ifeanyi – Veritas University, Abuja, Nigeria

Olushola Oluwatosin – Veritas University, Abuja, Nigeria

Adewale Ojogbede – NIMR

Babatunde Adewale – NIMR

Ajuba Miriam – APHPN

Ugwusina Nwachukwu Chinedu – APHPN

Ossai Edmund – APHPN

It is expected that the partners will work together with the HPRG-UNN to scale up the collection and synthesis of data and information on health policy and system for evidence-based strengthening of Nigeria’s health system. Overall, the aim is to move data and information from the point of rhetoric to policies, strategies, and practices.