Impact your generation ...
 Impact your generation ...

Interview with Mrs. Susana Oguntoye  

 Mrs Susana Oguntoye, NGO Manager in Africa


1) Please introduce yourself and tell us your name, country of origin, profession and hobbies.

SUSANA OGUNTOYE .I am from Nigeria. I have specialized in Public Health and

Capacity/Health Systems Strengthening/Development. My hobbies are languages, traveling,

yoga, capoeira and music.

2) What was your academic cycle?

I completed a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology and Immunology at Kings College,

London in 2003. I subsequently completed a Master of Science and Public Health from the

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2007.

3) Why did you decide to work in Africa after studying and living in the Western World?

What was your motivation?

My origins and place of birth are in Africa, Nigeria to be more specific.

I had always aimed on giving back to the community/-ies that created me and always aim to

have a role that will engage with Africa,

if not Nigeria in particular as much as possible while I have something to give that could prove useful.

4) Please describe the project or business you implemented or lead in Africa?

I have been involved in multiple engagements in Africa.

Initially on Fistula in Nigeria and for Female Health, Research and Development in the UK

among African women and Girls; then, also to further advocacy and local NGO capacity in Nigeria,

Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya with regards to pediatric HIV/AIDS

and parent to child transmission of HIV. Finally I now work in almost the same regions on

health systems strengthening, specifically with regards to clinical laboratory and diagnostic

capacity for HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections, like TB, malaria, STIs and others.

5) What were your fears before starting?

Absorptive capacity in the countries I work in is always a challenge with reporting a problem when it

comes to demonstrating true impact. In addition, I was anxious about the soloed funding channels that

seem very much HIV/AIDS focused and not broad enough to address the true deficiencies in

health systems service delivery in the areas of Africa I work in.

6) What experience did you make and what was your best experience?

That is a difficult question to answer since my experiences have varied not just across countries but

also across areas of operation. The most effective area of implementation I have been proud of being

a part of that pops into my mind, was to capacity build local organizations to really be able to report

on their own budgets, and impact. To help a partner organization really train local NGO staff on how

to work within structured M&E frameworks and provide regular monetary budget updates and

reports essential to a healthy and rigorous NGO community for health development.

7) How does your project affect the youth and women in Africa? How many of them do you


It varies. We always impact women and youth when working on health projects, but gender and youth

while being key to our audience has never been the one and only focus – although some of my

work 3-5 years ago was solely regarding women and my particular interests have been around women,

I have always been interested in a more broad based implementation strategy that includes and

ensures youth and women are engaged than exclusively tailored to maternal or child health alone.

8) What opportunities do you see for women in your field in Africa?
Lots of opportunities. Health impacts women and women leaders change health outcomes.

So significantly in fact, that gender specific impact is now part of all the worldwide strategies for

health – the MDGs, the UNAIDS strategy, the STOP TB strategy, the Global Fund to end HIV/AIDS,

TB and Malaria Strategy, etc ... In fact looking at the new UNIFEM/UN Women’s agency strategy,

the real aim is to ensure women and girls are awarded equal opportunity and possibilities across the

board and health is such a broad impact area you can work on almost anything health related for women

and have an impact on gender equality generally. Women interested in working in my field are able to

enter by creating a niche for themselves; languages, monitoring and evaluation knowhow; specific

knowledge like SPS and STATA for data analyses, or how to complete a cost benefit analysis all open

doors to women in the field. Of course the knowledge of the field and networking does not hurt.

Best is to indicate interest and start small – intern somewhere with a focus in health see if it suits and

take it farther….

9) What advice would you give women willing to start a business or community project prior

resuming the project?
Most importantly know your field and the environment; diversify your funding streams as early on as

you can by placing multiple irons in the fire concurrently and ensure that you not only have the need

but also the interest to fund that need longer term. Try and avoid clichés and look for what really drives

you – a passion for women and their health; an emotional connection to your home village; a drive to

change something following a personal encounter or incident are really good reasons. Development

work is often rewarding, because there is an immediate response and successes get back to you

directly, but it is also a field that is highly competitive and at times cutthroat so women that are

setting up their own shops need to learn to be assertive and drive their own agendas.

10) Do you support projects to educate other women or the youth in your community?

If yes, please introduce the project?
No I do not.


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