MANSAG: Promoting Research and Healthcare Innovations among the Black Ethnic and Nigerian Medical Community in the United Kingdom


Annually in May, the Medical Association of Nigeria Across Great Britain (MANSAG) holds her Educational Symposium and Charity Ball.

This year, the academic event themed, “Promoting Innovations in Healthcare” brought together about 100 participants and medical professionals from across Britain and Nigeria on Saturday the 11th of May 2024, at the Delta Hotels by Marriot in Nottingham.

During one of the MANSAG’s president speeches, Dr Chris Agbo elaborated on the role of promoting research and showcasing our health innovations, especially among Nigerians in the United Kingdom (UK) health and academic system. As we – the black ethnicity – are usually assumed to be uninvolved in such activities, which is untrue and clearly evident by the number and different types of research (in areas of Medical Education, Medical Training, Clinical Practice, Healthcare Innovations, Quality Improvement Projects and Audit) presented at the symposium.

With over 30 oral and poster presentations made at the event, one of the participants – Dr Chioma Audrey Amugo, an OBGYN Trainee with the NHS – commented that “I found the many presentations insightful and didn’t actually expect that much, as this is my first time attending an educational symposium based strictly on academic presentations. Although, it was a bit overwhelming, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it inspired me a lot. Because I have been thinking of making a presentation for a long while, but this shows that I can actually get it done and someone will definitely be interested in my work. Overall, it was a good experience with limitless networking opportunities as well”.

Dr Moses Abu during his oral abstract presentation.

Also, one of the sponsor presenters from Nigeria, Dr Modupe Elebute-Odunsi (CEO, Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital, Lagos) shared some of her thoughts about the presentation saying, “I liked that some of the presentations were focused on diversity. As well as the general breath of research done, with the opportunity for medical student to present them. However, it would have been nice to see some consultants present the work they’ve been doing as well. Because I noticed it was mostly juniors presenting, and of course because it was the junior presenting a paper or project done by a team with more senior colleagues, they presented quite short data to the best of their knowledge. So, it would be more informative to have consultants present at these meetings”.

Speaking on inclusion and diversity within the UK health care and research system, especially for the black community erroneously described as “hard-to-reach”, one of the keynote speakers – Professor Mahendra Patel, Pharmacist, Inclusion and Diversity Lead, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford – emphasised that the black community and ethnic groups are not “hard-to-reach”, but the level of engagement with this community is so low. Hence, decision makers and leaders must intentionally seek them out and engage appropriately.

Participants engaging the keynote speaker during a coffee break.

Citing examples, he made mention of the surge observed in the enrolment of participants for uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination, and recruitments of participants into clinical trials among ethnic groups – which would usually have a low turnout in these programs – by reaching out to them through their community leaders and following a singular announcement made by their Priests or Imam in their different places of worship. He also expressed his delight at the enthusiasm, reception and acceptance he received from both young and old participants at the MANSAG symposium, as one of the very few non-black persons to attend the symposium. Highlighting that this experience is totally different from the perception people have outside about the black community, which is also inspirational for him. Thereby, calling for more active engagement with the community and jointly putting down barriers hindering the black community from fully participating in opportunities available within the academic research and healthcare system.

The term “hard-to-reach” should not be used to describe any community or ethnic group at all levels, because no community is hard to reach, we just have to be deliberate about reaching out to them. ~ Prof. Mahendra Patel, Head of Centre for Reasearch Equity, Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

Additionally, the MANSAG Education Committee Chairman and incoming Secretary of MANSAG – Mr Andrew Alalade – noted the steady increase in number of participants and abstract submissions for the symposium over the years. Which goes to show that a lot of work is been done among Nigerians working within and outside the UK health and medical system. According to him, it was interesting to see the showcase of health models in Nigeria that could be brought up here and vice-versa. Also, the intergenerational interactions created through collaborative projects and the MANSAG platform was as well encouraging, with an optimistic outlook on the future of healthcare in Nigeria and the UK.

Dr Abisola Ajayi-Obe during her poster abstract presentation.

At the end of the event, one of the participants recommended that the association organises some tutorial for intending presenters prior to the conference, elaborating that “… l know there are a lot of people like me who want to do this, but don’t know where and how to start, or how to go about it. This would surely help in breaking the barriers against going into research”.

Conclusively, the incoming MANSAG Secretary spoke about the next MANSAG event, scheduled to hold this October in Manchester. Describing the event as the bigger annual general meeting and scientific conference of MANSAG, where reputable institutions such as GMC, RCGP, NIHR, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health and the likes would be represented to strengthen relationship with MANSAG and discuss possible collaborations for the benefit of Nigerian medical professionals in the UK and beyond.

“The importance of appropriate and community-sensitive engagement cannot be overemphasised. A small group of community can change the world.” ~ Dr Adeyemi A. M., participant and poster presenter at the MANSAG Educational Symposium

L-R: Best oral presentation winner – Dr Temidayo Osunronbi, Best oral presentation runner up – Dr Elizabeth ‘Kandi and MANSAG Education Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Alalade.

Editor’s note:
This article was collated by Medical Mirror Correspondent, Dr Mary O. Agoyi Awoniyi and Dr Elizabeth T. ‘Kandi.

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