A director in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, has left his footprints as head of the National Medical Team of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON); a position he held after rising from an ordinary member of the team in 2002 and steadily rose to the highest position as Commissioner in charge of Health in the NAHCON.
Dr Kana, who has been described as the man who changed the story of Medical Hajj operations in Nigeria now heads the Saving One Million Lives Program for Result, a Five Hundred Million Dollars flagship health intervention program of the World Bank that ensures lives of mothers and children are saved from preventable diseases and death.
One of the achievements of the Consultant Ophthalmologist as head of National Medical Team to Hajj was his effort to ensure that Nigeria was not prevented from performing Hajj during the H1N1 pandemic, Ebola Virus outbreak in Nigeria, Lassa fever epidemic and the MERS-CoV, at different times.
Under his watch, during the three Hajj operations amid the scare of outbreaks of the diseases, Nigerian Medical Mission was recognised by Saudi Arabia ministry of Health as one of the best Medical Missions, following his innovative ideas of harmonising the states and federal medical teams into a single National Medical Team. The most difficult was during the Ebola Virus outbreak, where Dr. Kana made presentations to the Nigerian Hajj stakeholder, under the chairmanship of His Eminence, Sultan Saad Abukakar, and later to an international audience, including WHO in Jeddah.
Kana also piloted and put in place the Electronic Health Medical Records of pilgrims. Today, all the Nigerian clinics in Makkah and Madina are fully computerised and consultations digitalised. He was said to have ensured that no pilgrim lacked drugs for all ailments while the electronic system he put in place ensured accountability and transparency, thereby saving the country huge resources.
In recognition of his service for Nigerian pilgrims, the Independent Hajj Reporters, an independent Civil organisation that monitors Hajj activities both in Nigeria and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, conferred on him, recently the award of “Best Hajj Official 2019” as well as honour for “meritorious service to Nigerian pilgrims”. The award was handed to him.at a lavish ceremony in Abuja by the Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Nigeria, HE MR. Adnan Mahmood Bostaji.
This is in addition to the numerous accolades he has recieved while leading the Nigerian Medical Mission to Hajj. The last was by the Health Minister of Saudi Arabia, after making a lucid presentation at the 2nd International Conference on Mass Gathering Medicine in King Faisal University, Riyadh.
When interviewed, the ever humble DR. Ibrahim Kana said said his vision was “to institutionalise the health system for Hajj and not rely on individuals, because human beings would come and go, but Hajj would outlive all of us”
Currently, recruitment of personnel for the Medical team is via online portal and provides opportunity for everyone to participate.
“DR. Kana Led the National Medical Team team by example and always in lead, never a leader in absentia or abbrogating responsibilities. He takes on task head-on. He was always seen working round the clock, from one hospital to another and from one mortuary to another. He instituted discipline amongst the medical personnel, a position that earned him enemies among the personnel but endeared by pilgrims as well as other officials. If you are lazy, then ,working with Dr Kana is not your turf as he abhors no time for indolence. He is a result getter I enjoyed the cordial working relationship and he contributed tremendously in the entire reform process during my tenure. DR. Kana is an asset to Nigeria,” Barrister Abdullah Mukhtar, Chairman/CEO of National Hajj Commission said.