This profile was prepared when Ifeoma Okoye was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Ifeoma was exasperated by the deteriorating conditions in most hospitals and health centers in Nigeria, including the major teaching hospital at which she worked, and realized that receiving shipments of donated and often obsolete equipment from Europe was inefficient. So Ifeoma started the Association for Good Clinical Practices in an effort to make Nigeria a world class destination for offshore clinical trials. Becoming a destination for outsourced or sponsored clinical trials offers significant potential for infrastructural development of the health care sector. Properly conducted clinical trials are often the most expensive component of drug research and development. Sponsors pay for certain infrastructural and human development needs depending on negotiations with clinical investigators. Therefore, sponsored clinical trials provide an opportunity for health care facilities to meet their infrastructural and human development needs without having to wait for government allocations or charity. Ifeoma believes that well-developed and ethically conducted clinical trials can benefit a developing nation like Nigeria in a number of other ways through the provision of collateral social health services and data that will aid the sector in health planning, determining disease prevalence and drug resistance patterns, as well as developing enhanced economic activity for the general populace not participating in the trial. She also believes that clinical trials in Nigeria can have a positive impact on ongoing clinical research activities that would ultimately enhance health programs focused on malaria research, AIDS vaccine trials, microbicide trials, onchocerciasis trials, schistosomiasis trials, and diabetes and breast cancer research.