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Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnus Receives US Embassy Grant for Work with COVID-19

By Haley Clemson


July 15, 2020

Muhammad Saddeeq’s organization, Rural Health Mission Nigeria, was recently been awarded a $20,000 grant by the US Embassy in Nigeria to implement a project related to Covid-19 in the Nigerian state of Gombe, called “COVID-19 Response Project.”

The “COVID-19 Response Project” will provide training, support, and information sharing to control the spread on the virus in Nigeria. Through this project, Rural Health Mission Nigeria has trained 114 primary health care (PHC) workers on infection prevention and control (IPC) of COVID-19. Muhammad has also developed an online infection prevention and control training package for further PHC. So far, the trainings have reached over 100 different communities in the Gombe state. Muhammad says this “has given us an opportunity to set up the state IPC Network with focal persons in each PHC, which in the long run we hope to use as a network to further strengthen our response capacity to local epidemics aside from covid-19”

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Rural Health Mission Nigeria is working on producing over 100,000 COVID-19 information packets of materials to be distributed to local health facilities, translated into local languages, in the hopes that patients and community members will read and have access to basic information on the virus. This would create community awareness about COVID-19 that can help control the spread through knowledge sharing.

In addition to training, Muhammad and Rural Health Mission Nigeria plan to construct locally made motorized hand hygiene machines for 114 primary health care facilities (as shown in the image below). They have distributed over 50,000 IEC materials to PHC workers in the Gombe state.

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In 2018, as a Mandela Washington Fellow at Drexel, Muhammad always had plans to put to use the skills he learned in civic leadership. “When I go back home I hope to focus on my non-profit organization and I also hope to use this collaborative experience and skills to see how I can engage other organizations that are working within my field to be able to increase coverage and impact we are making,” he said in 2018. He has certainly done this in his continued work with his organization.

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Though COVID-19 is the most prevalent issue facing health care today, the community outreach that Muhammad is working on creating will go far past just this immediate issue. With strengthening information sharing and response capacity to COVID-19, similar work can be extended to address other public health worries, such as Lassa Fever, a disease that is a more consistent threat to Nigeria, with about 1,000 people having died from it in the last 6 months. Through finding solutions for COVID-19 control in Nigeria, Muhammad and his organization Rural Health Mission Nigeria are doing important work for primary health care in general. Congratulations on the US Embassy grant, Muhammad!

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. Drexel University is a sub-grantee of IREX and is implementing a U.S.-based Leadership Institute as a part of the Fellowship. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit the Fellowship's website at