Health systems visit to Nigeria

By John Manton

Two of our team, Martin Gorsky and John Manton visited Ibadan in Nigeria for ten days in October, where we were hosted at the University of Ibadan by IFRA-Nigeria. The visit added new archival and investigative strands to the Health Systems in History project, enabling us to deepen our understanding of critical phases in health planning and health systems strengthening as historical phenomena.

The Director of IFRA-Nigeria, Dr Elodie Apard, together with her academic and administrative colleagues, welcomed us warmly and provided logistical and scholarly support for visits to the Nigerian National Archives, the Kenneth O. Dike Library at University of Ibadan (named after the prominent historian of the Ibadan School and former Vice-Chancellor of the University), and the Library of University College Hospital.

IFRA-Nigeria will also provide ongoing support to the Nigeria component of the Health Systems in History programme, enabling the project to build a community of interested scholars and research assistants, to develop research on the history of health systems and planning in late colonial and Independent Nigeria. We had the great pleasure of connecting with Dr Rasheed Olaniyi, a key member of our project Advisory Committee, and visiting the famed University of Ibadan History Department, where Prof Gorsky gave a very well received introduction to the broader programme as part of the IFRA Distinguished Personality Lecture Series, in conjunction with the History Department, speaking on the topic: “From ‘Planning’ to Systems Analysis’: Health Services and Development at the World Health Organisation, 1952-1975”.

Plans are afoot for follow up visits to consolidate very fruitful work in Ibadan; we are interested in following up with key responsible parties to the story of postcolonial health planning, and we look forward to keeping you posted!