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Modou Njai - MSc Public Health - Health Promotion, 2007

Modou Njai gained his MSc in Public Health- Health Promotion from Leeds Beckett University in 2007. Since graduating he has gone onto work for the Ministry of Health in The Gambia rising to National Director of Health Promotion and Education.

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Modou being interviewed on television

Modou Njai gained his MSc in Public Health- Health Promotion from Leeds Beckett University in 2007. Since graduating he has gone onto work for the Ministry of Health in The Gambia rising to National Director of Health Promotion and Education. His work involves increasing the communication of safe health practices for families and young children. He also lectures on the MSc in Public Health - Health Promotion, a distance learning course he initiated between Leeds Beckett University and the University of The Gambia.

Modou explains his journey since studying at Leeds Beckett University. “I chose to study MSc Public Health- Health Promotion at Leeds Beckett University because of the course’s reputation to produce competent and highly skilled graduates. I have since used the knowledge I gained on the course to advocate the value and benefits of health promotion in The Gambia and I have also been able to transfer these skills to many others in my field. One of greatest achievements include the introduction of Leeds Beckett University to help deliver the MSc in Public Health- Health Promotion alongside the University of The Gambia. Staff from the government of The Gambia and Sierra Leone have benefitted from the training course and many of the people who trained on the course are now in higher management positions in the two countries. 

“After I completed my degree I returned to the Ministry of Health in The Gambia, contributing my new knowledge to help economic and social development in the country. In August 2007 I was appointed the National Programme Coordinator of the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI). My focus there was to promote key family practices to be used in the community. This included prompt and early responses to pneumonia; antenatal care; handwashing with soap; and household water treatment. In addition to this I coordinated the training of the IMNCI case management training for Nurses. In 2009 I coordinated the production of the National Child Survival and Development strategy to guide the implementation of interventions to improve the quality of life for children in The Gambia. 

“In June 2012 I was appointed the National Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health. During my eight years of experience as Director I made many achievements including engaging communities to help the prevention of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. I worked closely with partners to champion the Parent Friendly Workplace Initiative to promote breastfeeding in the workplace. I introduced a campaign to spread information on infant feeding practices, including water sanitation, maternal and child nutrition, and a feeding programme to target acute malnutrition. 

“In my role I am responsible for planning and implementing national and regional campaigns- giving individuals the skills to improve their health alongside actions directed towards changing social, environmental and economic conditions which have an impact on health. 

When talking about why he loves what he does he said: “The work of health promotion and education requires dedication and commitment to duty and addressing challenges such as the identification and responding to rumours or fake news especially during public health emergencies and pandemics. On a daily basis, I work closely with the media disseminating vital health information. My role also include building the capacities of journalists on health reporting, identification and responding to rumours especially during public health emergencies. I love doing what I do because its interventions are essential in order to effectively address specific public health problems. I believe health promotion makes healthy choices the easiest choices.

And on what he gained from being a student with us: “I was one of the awardees of the John Baron Prizes in 2006 because I demonstrated at the time a mature approach to learning. I contributed to class sessions not only because I wanted to learn but I wanted to share my experiences as well. Outside of class I was always prepared to help others on the course. As students you need to participate and contribute immensely to class sessions and be willing to learn from each other.

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