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STATEMENT OF PURPOSE FOR MASTERS IN PUBLIC HEALTH AT BOSTON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
'If Jesus Christ were born in Nigeria, He might have died before the age of 5'...as these words fell from my mouth while commencing a speech on 'Revitalizing the Nigerian Health Sector' in an oratory contest in medical school, I was surprised. I had not meant to be dramatic. It happened that the speaker ahead of me had just quoted a fact: 'one in every five children born in Nigeria die before their 5th birthday' (according to World Health Organisation). Suddenly, the realization dawned on me that I could have been that 'one'.
Although I was now a comfortable medical student thanks to scholarship support, my childhood was in a rural village, Ipebi, in Southwestern Nigeria where entire families depended on proceeds from farming one plot of land yearly. My mother, a teacher at the government primary school, had completed plans to abort her 5th child because she could not afford to feed an extra mouth on her meager salary. By some luck, she changed her mind and this 5th child, me, was born. Growing up, I remembered vividly how when I coughed or ran fever, my mother would sometimes spank me to stop playing childish pranks. She knew fever or cough was no prank, but admitting the legitimacy of my symptoms would mean she would have to take me to a hospital, and as the government hospitals were largely non-functional, that meant private hospital whose fees were too exorbitant for someone whom government owed months of salaries at a time. She however would still give me home-made remedies but if they seemed not to work would take me straight to a hospital even if it meant using her savings or taking a loan from the teachers co-operative society. Some of the other children whose parents-peasant farmers and petty traders- were poorer were not so lucky. Herbs and watchful waiting could not cure severe malaria, tetanus, diarrhea and pneumonia and when they eventually gathered money to take them to the hospital, it was sometimes too late. I feared what would have happened if Jesus Christ whose father was said to be a carpenter had been born in my village...
'To find a lasting solution that would revitalize our health sector, we need to ensure government -owned health centres are fully functional and increase the coverage of our insurance scheme from the current 5% so as to reduce out-of-pocket spending while use of health vouchers can be employed by the government to ensure free healthcare for the poorest and most vulnerable. My life's goal is to work towards a healthcare system where the only life that would be lost is one that never was' ...I won the contest that day but the utmost victory would be when I can make policies that would change the health and lives of all especially the poor, underserved and unreached communities like mine. This is why I am applying to undertake a Masters in Public Health (Health Policy and Law track) at Boston School of Public Health to gain the knowledge and skills I need to tackle these challenges.