From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The Chief Medical Director of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, Dr Joseph Ugboaja, and the entire hospital management will never forget a hurry, Saturday, May 28.
That was the day President Muhammadu Buhari honoured Dr Ugboaja with Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Dr Ugboaja, among other few Nigerians, was privileged to catch the attention of the Presidency owing to his unquantifiable and relentless efforts to turn around the NAUTH, Nnewi in a very short space of time with immense added value to the health sector in Nigeria.
Ugboaja is trained as Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and holds Postgraduate fellowships from the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMCOG), West Africa College of Surgeons (FWACS), International College of Surgeons (FICS) and Minimal Access Surgery (FMAS).
He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka.
Dr Ugboaja has attended several international and local training and conferences on strategic leadership and healthcare management organized by leading Management development institutes around the globe. He is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria. (FIMCON).
Dr Ugboaja cut his mettle in hospital management at quite a young age, when he was appointed as the Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (DCMAC) of the institution in 2013 barely two years post fellowship.
As DCMAC, he discharged his duties creditably that four years after in 2017, he was appointed the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of the hospital, a post he held until 2021 when he assumed office as the acting Chief Medical Director of the hospital.
Dr Ugboaja’s tenure as the CMAC brought a lot of innovations into the hospital that mobilized the entire clinical staff towards an unprecedented level of performance.
Some of the innovations introduced by Dr. Ugboaja include the introduction of a quality improvement committee that ensured that standards were maintained; the introduction of clinicopathologic conferences; the facilitated multidisciplinary review of challenging cases and the establishment of a Total Quality Management system in the hospital.
To boost research and training, Dr Ugboaja, as CMAC established the NAUTH Research Society and the Annual NAUTH Scientific Conference. Both of these initiatives boosted greatly the research output of the hospital.
In recognition of his positive contributions to the management board of the hospital, even as the CMAC, he was Chairman of several board committees including the board committee on clinical services improvement, the board committee on Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the board committee on capital budget as well as board committee on Liaison.
When he took over the reins as the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Ugboaja left no one in doubt about his mission and vision.
He quickly gave the hospital a new vision with clear strategic pillars and strategies for the achievement of the vision. He maintained that the realization of the institution’s objective rests squarely on the development of the permanent site- a hitherto fallow land.
The key strategic pillars for the achievement of the new NAUTH vision include infrastructural development, acquisition of modern equipment and technologies; strategic human resource management, partnerships and collaboration as well as staff motivation and welfare.
Dr Ugboaja has shown tremendous visionary leadership and a singular sense of purpose such that within three months of assumption of office as the CMD, he relocated major units of the hospital to the permanent site.
But the hallmark of Dr Ugboaja’s 18-month tenure as the CMD is the commissioning of the permanent site on Friday, 19th May 2023 by the then President of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Hon Minister of State for Health, Hon Joseph Ekumankama.
Indeed, Nnewi and Anambra State were agog with excitement as the President commissioned multiple projects at the NAUTH’s permanent site
The President noted at the event that Dr Ugboaja’s accomplishment in his less than two years in office is unprecedented, heartwarming and deserving of national honour.
It is, therefore, not surprising to keen observers, when Mr President nominated him for the national honour award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger(OON) making him the first CMD in Nigeria to be so honoured.
It’s actually overwhelming to evaluate what Dr Ugboaja’s administration has accomplished in less than two years in office at the permanent site. Just as observed by Mr President, its quite unprecedented and amazing.
No matter how you look at it, Ugboaja is a bundle of wisdom. He is knowledgeable, smart, attentive, organized, a great leader, and a jovial person who never welcomes a dull moment.
He has proven his mettle in hospital management and visionary leadership which has endeared him to his professional colleagues, the hospital staff, and other stakeholders of the hospital.
Dr Ugboaja walks his talk and never takes “no” for an answer when it comes to delivery.
Although he had received a series of merit awards from within and outside Nigeria, including the Thomas Sankara leadership award, this particular award from Mr President no doubt is very significant and shows that Dr Ugboaja’s modest effort at changing the landscape of the healthcare sector in Nigeria has not gone unnoticed at the national level.
Just as Dr Ugboaja himself remarked, the award can only spur him to do more for humanity.
Indeed, Dr Joseph Ugboaja, OON, is an administrator per excellence, and we look forward to more of his exploits in leadership in the coming years.