Aliko Dangote foundation’s quest for a healthy Africa

The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), established in 1994 under the chairmanship of Aliko Dangote, has a mandate to realise Dangote’s vision of an Africa, whose people are healthier, better educated and more empowered and it is driven by the desire to change the current Africa narrative to one which emphasises Africa’s successes, contributions and accomplishments over time.

The foundation envisions an African continent where Africans and their leaders are ever more empowered in their various spheres of interest. As Dangote’s business footprint expands across the continent, so has his appreciation of the challenges facing the continent and his desire to do something about it.

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2013 and 2014 marked a defining period for the foundation, as Aliko joined hands with Bill Gates to work with the federal government of Nigeria to attack the lingering scourge of polio in its last bastion on the continent. This called for a restructuring and realignment within the operations of the Foundation and how it works to deliver on Aliko’s vision.

 After 20 years of intense charity works across Nigeria and Africa, the foundation was restructured to become the largest private foundation in sub-Saharan Africa with a $1.25 billion equivalent endowment, making it the largest endowment fund by a single donor on the continent.

Following the endowment, the Foundation rebranded to better reflect Aliko’s commitment as Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). The Foundation was refocused to concentrate on four key areas namely: health and nutrition; education; empowerment and humanitarian relief with particular attention to women and children.

With the Foundation’s special interest in nutrition, it is developing the Aliko Dangote Foundation Integrated nutrition (ADFIN) programme, designed to tackle the scourge of cholera and malnutrition that claim 300,000 lives annually and cripple the future of 11 million chronically malnourished children in Nigeria. Currently, the foundation is committed to directly reaching one million households with community-based management of acute malnutrition, which provides access to improved water and sanitation, improved behavioural change, livelihood support, strengthening locals and national health system as well as global advocacy by 2025.

The ADF vision is not limited to Nigeria; in realising the vision for a better Africa, the Foundation is strategically supporting and working with like-minded international organisations in changing the Africa narratives. It currently partners GBC Health, One Campaign, CHI, GAIN, Africa Development Bank and a host of others. On the global stage, the foundation through Halima Aliko Dangote is working to position the Africa Centre in New York, a forward looking platform that encompasses culture, business and policy to promote trans-Atlantic exchange and partnership between Africa and the rest of the world.

Halima Aliko Dangote, the Executive Director of the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), a well versed manager of men and resources who would not want to be buried in the thick shadow of her father’s towering stature is a director at the Dangote Flour Plc and effectively combines the dynamism of the youths with the wisdom of elders. Therefore, it was no trouble speaking on behalf of her father at the Africa Business Coalition for Health launch.

During the launch of the ABC Health, there was one-on-one between her and Didier Drogba, the African legendary footballer. They both have something in common and that is the desire to see Africans living healthier lives by having unhindered access to basic healthcare facilities. And this view they both espoused to a select audience on the sidelines at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week.

Halima gave a very deep insight into the push behind her father’s philanthropic spirit and her own disposition to helping others especially in the health related issues. “I grew up knowing about my father’s philanthropy, a trait which he also took over from his mother. We used to follow my grandmother to hospitals to see the sick and how they could be helped from hospital to hospital rending assistance to get treatment. My grandmother did not like seeing people bogged down by sickness. So it was natural that he (Aliko Dangote) would later use his wealth to help the disadvantaged. And to God be the glory, he has been able to touch many lives.

“The task to make Africa and Africans healthier starts from everyone. Everyone has a role to play. You can give your money; you can give your time, and you can give support or prayer. You just have to be there for one reason or the other. Our Foundation is part of this arrangement because it is involved in matters of health and nutrition. Like I said, we learnt from our mom, dad, and grandmother on the importance of good health. We have visited Internally Displaced persons (IDP) camps severally. There you will feel the pain of malnutrition; seeing children and babies malnourished. We had to go back to the drawing board to re-strategise on the form of intervention from the Foundation to help.

She reiterated that there is a vital relationship between health, economic growth and development in Africa as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more; and added that access to essential health services is an important aspect of development.

“Governments from both developed and developing countries are increasingly looking at public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a way to expand access to higher-quality health services by leveraging capital, managerial capacity, and know-how from the private sector. Africa’s healthcare systems demand significant investments to meet the needs of their growing populations, changing patterns of diseases and the internationally-agreed development goals,” she stated.

She explained further that, “I am also involved in the African Centre programme, in New York. I am the President. I am involved to the extent that we believe that our narratives have been told by others on our behalf. So we are now making conscious efforts to change the negative narratives by telling it ourselves. We need to tell the world that stories from Africa are not all negatives. Though we have our challenges but good things are happening too in Africa.”

On his part, Didier Drogba while explaining his involvement in a foundation that is committed to good health for Africans, shared his experience of how he lost a dear one to the cold hands of death because of inability to access good health care in his home country, Cote d’Ivoire, adding that he then made up his mind to set up a Foundation that will be deployed to provide medical care for the people.

“I started DD foundation because I love my country and I love my continent. My greatest fans are in Africa. I can’t ignore my people; I have travelled throughout Africa and I go to the hospitals; what has struck me the most has been the lack of access to health and education. And I believe it could be me, so I set up the Foundation. The foundation’s objective is to empower individuals through access to health and education, which I believe are essential elements in the developmental process of communities. Health is very important. In Africa, in everyday of our lives, when we greet each other, and we ask how are you today? It is about our health,” Drogba added.

Drogba explained that, “I think we are in a position to change the perception of the continent by the outside world. We have great people like Aliko Dangote, notable athletes, Sportsmen and women who have ruled the world. We should have the desire and come together to improve the continent. Together we can change our continent for the better.”

 

Awowole-Brown wrote from Lagos

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