Please visit Richard Smith’s Blog on BMJWA latest Writing Workshop in Abuja, Nigeria.



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Jt. Editors-in-Chief International Editor, BMJ

Prof Idris Mohammed(Nigeria) Fiona Godlee

Prof Kwawukume (Ghana)                                       

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Prof Peter Odonkor(Kumasi) Accra, Ghana

Prof EEJ Asuquo (calabar) c/o N. A. Adu-Aryee

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Prof. Okpere (Benin) Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

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Dr Rowland Ndoma-Egba (Calabar) 65 Warden Hill Road

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Dr A. Mba(UNTH)

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Dr  Nkanga(UCTH) Printer:

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Arit J. Ana Exec Director                      The West Africa edition of the BMJ published bi-monthly                                         

Prince O. Ana, Gen Manager           contains materials selected from issues of the weekly BMJ.  

Shola Marketing Lagos Office           The correct reference to the original BMJ article is given   

Saidu Marketing Abuja office           within every article and this is the citation that should be

Onebieni. Obiakari  ICT Executive          used whenever that article is referenced.

Uduak Sunday DTPublisher    


BMJ West Africa ed. which was first published in July 1996 also contains local articles, editorials and commentaries which are either submitted or commissioned. The edition brings to health professionals in West Africa, first-rate, peer-reviewed current information, and offers local authors exposure to the international audience on health.Copyright ©. 


Dr Joseph Ana   BM BCh(UNN), DFFP(UnivLondon), DipUrology(Inst of Urol London), FRCSEd






Top of Form

Richard Smith asks: Can we create a global network of mentors?

1 Feb, 10 | by BMJ Group

I’m on a plane flying home from Nigeria, where I’ve been participating in a workshop on writing and publishing in journals, reading scientific papers, and encouraging evidence based practice. I had a wonderful time. The workshop had around 100 participants, and they were exuberant and highly responsive. The debate was intense, and some struggled with the discovery that there were no neat formulas and answers and no substitute for constant thought and study.

Despite the enthusiasm, few had published papers—and many were apprehensive about their chances of doing so. West Africa has relatively very few functioning journals, and international journals seem to have horribly high rejection rates.

Yet all agreed that reading, writing, publishing, and debating are fundamental for the improvement of any system—and certainly a health system. Nigeria’s health system might not unkindly be described as failed.

Joseph Ana, the editor of BMJ West Africa (which organized the workshop), took over as health commissioner in Cross River State, one of the poorest states in Nigeria, five years ago and after visiting every part of the state documented the dire state of the health system. It was failing at every level but especially at the primary health care level where facilities were dilapidated and services barely functioning. People had no confidence in the system and went elsewhere to get care and give birth. Maternal mortality was 1%, childhood mortality 20%, immunisation rates under 20%; and there were only 72 doctors (including administrators and public health ) for 3 million people.

Enhanced information flow can play an important part in improving the health system. Indeed, a flow of good information and vigorous debate are in themselves an essential part of a well functioning health system.

At the end of the workshop we gathered ideas on how to move forward. Mentorship was the number one suggestion. I agree. You can light a fire and give broad information by running a workshop, but attendance at a workshop will not in itself be enough for people to start writing, publishing, critically appraising, and promoting evidence based practice. One on one mentorship is the way to make a real difference.

But Nigeria—and probably many other low and middle income countries—have few people in a good position to act as mentors. Possible mentors are few and don’t have the time, the inclination, or, it must be said, the skills.

Yet there are plenty of people in developed countries, including Britain, who could act as mentors—and in these days of Skype and email mentorship can be done at a distance and at no cost. My hunch is that there are many people, particularly perhaps retired doctors, who would much enjoy being mentors. (Indeed, I’m a mentor, and I keep feeling that I get more out of it than my mentee. I get rich insights into other worlds, something invaluable.)

So might we create a global network of mentors and mentees? Health Information for All 2015 would be a great organisation to take the lead.

Richard Smith is former Editor, BMJ.



Kingsley Ukwaja

I missed the workshop in Abuja because I got the information very late.
I agree with the views expressed by Dr Smith. AuthorAID started by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) could be an excellent resource for clinicians from developing countries if properly harnessed.
It will indeed increase the pool of clinician mentors if retired doctors in the UK(as you suggested) register as mentors with AUTHORAID.
Given your former position in the BMJ and contacts of possible mentors you might know in the UK it will be wonderful to get these to register with AUTHORAID or through another platform.

Thank you very much.


Khan Amir Maroof • 5 years ago

Yes, a one to one mentorship is one of the very best ideas for improving the quality of research. The technological advancement should be surely exploited for this noble purpose. We from the developing countries, then would be able to contribute a lot to the world.


Prince Ana • 5 years ago

I was at the workshop and have been since the series started. One thing that stands out of all the workshops both in Ghana and Nigeria is that people are willing to publish like Richard said the problem is that international journals reject almost all. And yes most health facilities are not equipped with libraries for a proper research work especially when you want to carry out a retrospective study. The reasons are many but the most striking one is that there are no proper storage and retrieval system for patient information.


Sulyman • 5 years ago

I attended the above workshop in Abuja. It was very useful. It is gratifying that an outcome of the workshop is being followed up by Richard. A candle loose nothing by lighting another candle. We need Mentors.



Richard Smith • 5 years ago

I’ve now discovered that what I proposed in my blog already exists. AuthorAID is about a year old and has been started by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). It has around 80 health researchers on its database and can be accessed at:

I urge you to sign up.




Joseph Ana was the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Cross River State, Nigeria 2004-8. He is the Lead Senior Fellow, Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety, and Chairman/CEO of HRI Global Ltd in which he has shares.

References  (at 2023): 

1) Ana, J. (2009) ‘Whole SYSTEM Change of Failing Health Systems’. ISBN:978-978-49487-0-8. Lagos. Fine Print 

2) Ana, J. (2009) ‘TOOLS for implementing Clinical Governance in developing countries. First edition. ISBN: 978-078-494-5-3. Calabar. Gold Color Print.

3) Trivedi, B. is impressed, ‘INSPIRING LIVES - Joseph Ana - Health Commissioner on a Mission. “He made healthcare accessible to everyone in the state’, In: Scientific American (fall- June, 2010):

4) Smith, R. ‘How to rebuild global health: Joseph Ana’s book describes how he turned around the failing health system in a southern Nigerian state. BMJ 2010; 341:c5520 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5520 

5) Using a mentorship model to localise the Practical Approach to Care Kit (PACK): from South Africa to Nigeria BMJ Global Health Oct 2018, 3 (Suppl 5) e001079; DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001079 

6) Ana, J.  (2021) ‘Tools for implementing Clinical Governance in developing countries. 2ND Edition (IN PRESS) 

7) Ana, J. ‘Clinical Research Demystified’. 2009. ISBN: 978-978-49487-3-9 Lagos Fine Print

8) Ana, J. Clinical Governance,Quality & Safety  ISBN: 978-978-49487 – 4 – 6. Calabar. Gold Color Print.





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