Access to Health began working in Lagos, Nigeria in 2016, in partnership with the Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) and the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlements Federation. In March, a group of Northwestern medical, business, and law students and faculty conducted a health needs assessment with partner communities and found that many of the people were lacking basic health literacy. Through a Federation Health Board, the students also learned that even where the government mandates specific services for vulnerable or at risk groups, many people are unable to access these services due to language, financial, or educational barriers. 

In response, in October 2016, a holistic program was developed utilizing the platforms already established by our partner JEI to increase health literacy, access, and rights. The program trains community-nominated educators how to teach health issues identified as a priority by the communities. Utilizing adult focused, low-literacy, knowledge exchange approaches, ATH provides two trainings - one in basic health knowledge and a second in how to teach basic health. At the same time, the program is expanding health access by:

  • Mapping the clinics and government health services available to each community through community information gathering methods and returning the data to the communities;
  • Building partnerships with government ministries and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital;
  • Working with JEI paralegals on basic health law, who together with the community health educators, will work to ensure accountability and combat corruption in accessing care;
  • Partnering with the Red Cross in Lagos to ensure basic first aid skills reach communities; and
  • Surveying communities to map health education and behavior change over time.


Students Assess Needs of Poorest Communities in Nigeria
ATH in Lagos, Nigeria: Finding the First Step
ATH in Lagos, Nigeria: A Health and Human Rights Assessment
Lagos is Burning: The Unlawful Demolition of Slums Flies in the Face of the Nigerian Government’s mega-city dreams
Nigeria Trip Report (pdf)