It’s not very often, particularly in the last few years, that I’ve had a reason to be as proud of being a Nigerian as I was last night. I was invited to a gala where Medshare, a humanitarian organization that “recovers surplus medical supplies and equipment from U.S. hospitals and manufacturers, and redistributes them to needy hospitals in developing countries,” gave its inaugural Bob Freeman Humanitarian Award to two people.
One of the two people is a Nigerian by the name of Ndagana Baba Alhaji. The other is Dr. Paul Farmer, a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Chair of the Harvard Medical School, and UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine.
Alhaji has dedicated his life, according to the citation of his award, to “working to provide medical supplies and equipment to under-served communities across the African diaspora.”
His medical humanitarianism started when he almost lost his life during a visit to Chicago years ago. He found out that he needed heart surgery that would cost half a million dollars (that is more than 180 million naira), which he didn’t have. The Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago performed the surgery for him for free and only told him “all you owe us is the commitment to this possibility for others.”
Alhaji is deeply beloved and respected by the folks at MedShare. It’s clearly a product both of his consequential humanitarianism and his honesty and commitment. Congratulations, Ndagana Baba Alhaji!