October 15, 2020

Mask-Up: In Nigeria, Humphrey Alumnus Seeks out Improved Access to Healthcare

From preventing malaria to the coronavirus, Dr. Osita Okonkwu is empowering local communities in Enugu, Nigeria. A 2009-2010 Hupert H. Humphrey Fellow at Tulane University, Dr. Okonkwu became involved in service early on in his career. During the ten-month educational and cultural fellowship program, Okankwu volunteered with the local chapter of the Red Cross, where he won an Alumni Impact Award for spearheading a project that trained health workers on the use of intermittent preventive therapy (IPTp). The project, aimed at preventing malaria among pregnant women in rural communities in Enugu, ignited Dr. Okankwu’s interest in forming his own organization.

iphAE, which aims to improve health systems and access to quality care in Nigeria, hones in on three core areas: improving gender equality in relation to healthcare, ensuring better access to clean water and sanitation, and improving the general health and wellbeing of local communities in Enugu. 

Dr. Okonkwu’s dedication to achieving healthcare improvement can be seen through his most recent project, the Mask-Up Enugu Campaign. This program, which distributes facemasks to those who have not had access to them in Enugu during COVID-19, highlights the importance of reducing the spread of the virus and protecting those in their communities most vulnerable.

In addition, Dr. Okonkwu has set out to ensure every orphaned child in Nigeria has access to quality healthcare. Through his foundation, the Initiative for Improved Population Health Access and Empowerment (iphAE), Dr. Okonkwu collaborates with healthcare workers and leaders across the country to ensure that Nigerian populations in need can access timely and safe healthcare resources, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

The collective work carried out by Dr. Okonkwu and his team represents their commitment to empowering and educating local populations, improving access to and the quality of healthcare, and demonstrating the role that every individual has to play in protecting one another and their communities.

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