The Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) held the graduation ceremony for the inaugural cohort of its Leadership Enhancement and Accountability for the Public Sector (LEAPS) Programme, in Abuja on the 14th of December 2017. An initiative of the HLA, LEAPS is an 18-month programme designed to improve the leadership acumen and execution capacity of policymakers and senior healthcare administrators working at the state level within the public sector. 35 participants consisting of senior directors in State Ministries from 7 states – Cross River, Delta, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna – participated in the programme and were presented certificates of completion.
In his welcome address, Founder of the HLA and CEO of the Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation (HSDF), Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, stated that addressing the challenges within the health system in Nigeria required not only an inputs or program-driven approach but very importantly, an attention to leadership, governance and accountability. This was a fundamental reason for the establishment of the LEAPS program. He reminded the graduates that leadership is not a destination, but a journey and that the graduation ceremony was not the end, but the continuation of that journey.
The Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, represented by Dr. Akin Oyemakinde, Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health confirmed the importance of leadership and governance in the health sector and expressed his delight at the existence of an institution like the HLA which was established to provide world-class training to a wide range of healthcare professionals operating within the public and private domains of the African health sector. He also offered his congratulations to the graduating class for taking up an important step towards developing their leadership potential and urged them to keep working tirelessly as they were now important change agents to bring about the much-needed transformation.
HLA Board Member and Former Minister for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate in his message, said the programme is not about exercising authority, but about learning how to bring people together to work towards a common goal. Dr Pate expressed his support for the HLA and reiterated the value of its contextually relevant approach to building capacity, making it a unique institution in many ways. Underscoring his point, the Executive Director of the HLA, Dr. Hala Daggash highlighted the curriculum of the programme, reaffirming that the modules were designed to address the demand to improve quality, reduce cost and improve the patient experience, all taking into cognisance the unique context in Nigeria.
The LEAPS program features a week of classroom lectures followed by a collaborative capstone project and ongoing mentoring from experienced faculty from globally recognised health institutions over an 18-month fellowship period. During the event, graduates presented the results of their capstone projects which showed various states achieving the goals set at the beginning of the programme, many of which were centred on strengthening health systems in their states. Some of the results of these projects include the reactivation of 80% of the Ward Development Committees in Imo State, increase of the percentage of Primary Health Care Centers with a minimum of four skilled birth attendants in Niger State, and over a 100% increase in the baseline Penatavalent Vaccine 3 immunization coverage in Agege LGA of Lagos State.
Commenting on the successful execution of these capstone projects, Dr Ohiri stated that they were evidence of the impact of the program, and gave the HLA impetus to continue to remain focused and deliver on its vision of a transforming Africa’s healthcare system. Mrs. Habiba Balogun, HLA Partner and Director/Principal Consultant, Habiba Balogun Consulting Limited also congratulated the graduates and said that the day was an affirmation that with professional leadership and a well-defined aim, phenomenal results can be achieved. The day ended with the presentation of certificates to the graduates.