Ambassador Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury paid her first visit on 9-11 July to the city of Ibadan in Oyo State.
She visited several schools to witness first-hand the results of a project by Sapphire Youth Health and Educational Development Initiative (SYHED) and their Finnish counterpart Physicians for Social Responsibility, implemented with the support of the Government of Finland. The pilot project named 'Improving Child Health in Ibadan Primary Schools' (IPCIP) ran between 2012-2014, and has had an important role in promoting the concept and practice of school health in the State.
During her visit, Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury met with the Executive Governor of Oyo State Abiola Ajimobi, and discussed with him issues such as promoting business and economic relations in several areas of Finnish expertise, including in the health sector. In their meeting, the Executive Governor and Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury expressed appreciation for the IPCIP project, and welcomed new forms of collaboration between Oyo state and Finland in the future.
To explore ways of further promoting trade and economic ties, discussions were also held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ibadan, with the presence of representatives of the local business community. Keen interest was expressed into looking for possibilities of strengthening cooperation. Members of the Chamber took the opportunity to explore partnerships, present ideas and ask questions in relation to various sectors.
An important part of the Ambassador's programme in Ibadan was a visit to Ibadan University where several fruitful discussions took place with the management of the University, and with management of the College of Medicine, including Faculty of Public Health and Dean of Pharmacy. It was concluded that previously existing good ties should be further built on, and that most should be made of the many possibilities for cooperation.
Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury also met with several other Oyo State officials responsible for education and health, most importantly the Permanent Secretary of Health and Permanent Secretary of Education, and visited the Association for Family and Reproductive Health, based in Ibadan. She also paid a visit to the Office of the First Lady, where health issues were discussed.
On different occasions, the opportunity was taken to inform of a 'Health and Wellbeing' business event that Finland will be organizing in Lagos on 3 November 2015.
The Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Finland Ms Emmi Mwanzagi, as well as Dr Kingsley Akinroye, Honorary Consul of Finland in Lagos, accompanied Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury on her visit. At the end of the programme, the Finnish delegation expressed great satisfaction at an experience that had been both productive and enjoyable, and looked forward to further cooperation. All concluded that particularly memorable were the visits to the schools where it was possible to meet nurses, teachers, parents and pupils and hear directly from them about the fruits of the school health project. It was impressive to see the commitment of all involved, and the warm reception of the visiting Finnish delegation at all the schools was heartwarming.