Interview with Temitayo Matthew

We have, with us, Temitayo Femi Matthew, recipient of the NiMSA Presidential Award for the best performing male in the third quarter of 2021.

Can we meet you?

I am Temitayo Femi Matthew, a 300 Level Medical Student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

You’re the NiMSA Technical Officer for Infectious Diseases and Control. Can you tell us a bit about what this office entails?

My job description basically entails leading awareness and advocacy campaigns across the country on four named infectious and communicable diseases — COVID-19, Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV. I have worked with this mandate jealously since I assumed office.

My job also requires me to work with a team of interested medical students across the country to plan and execute these campaigns and outreaches. This, I have done through the NiMSA National Infectious and Communicable Diseases Team and via Campus Directors who are medical students from several medical schools in the country.

Recently you won the Award for NiMSA best serving executive for the 3rd quarter for 2021. How do you feel about winning the award?

Well, I am happy and grateful to have won the award, even though I anticipated it more during the 2nd quarter as my indefatigable team and I had only just completed our National Malaria Elimination and Sensitization Project then.

But as I always say — awards are not the destination; they only tell us we are a step in the right direction. Thus, while I am ever grateful to the Comrade Danbuba Umar-led NiMSA 2021 administration for the award, I know that it is a call for greater service and deeper commitment. And this is why I am being very deliberate not to use the word “fulfilled” to describe how I feel.

Right now, I feel more challenged to face my fears and take on those things I told myself would be impossible. And since you know this now, you should probably look out for me in the next few months 😅.

Many IFUMSAites are not well aware of NiMSA executive offices like the one you currently occupy. What do you think can be done to ensure that this trend does not continue?

Well, I do not disagree with you in entirety, but I believe enough information is always available for anyone who needs it. I was appointed into my current role, which means I did apply for it. And I remember vividly that the Call for Applications was all over every class page at that time.

So rather than the awareness about the offices, I think the bigger challenge lies is in IFUMSAites seeing the procedure for application and giving up immediately. I admit it is stressful, but the reality is this: if it is not stressful, unserious people will find it easy to apply.

There is also the part of commitment. NiMSA places a lot of premium on experience, and so does her officials. So the more commitment you display, the greater the access you get to further information. That’s the way to go.

These things and more are issues we should be discussing as pertaining to awareness on NiMSA Executive offices. Those who deserve to get this information will always get it.

Do you have plans to serve for a second term in your current office?

Definitely no 😂.

You’ve held outreaches in the past few months on malaria. What inspired you to hold the outreach?

Growing up as a child, I frequently had to take days off school to treat malaria, and I always thought things would get better someday. But the older I got, the more I realised there were so many people out there who were having worse episodes. This was the motivation.

In addition, as I highlighted in my job description, I am expected to lead Malaria campaigns across the country. And this, I believe, we were able to do through our outreaches.

You have another outreach coming up soon. What brought up the idea, and why was it Tuberculosis you chose?

Well, I wouldn’t say any particular thing inspired our outreach on Tuberculosis other than my job description.

I started work on a COVID-19 prevention project as soon as I was appointed to this office. But sadly, that never saw reality. I gave up on it when it became clear that was the only option.

From there, I moved on to malaria, and we were about to contribute our quota to Malaria elimination and sensitisation. Thankfully, this was a success.

Moving on again, I had HIV and Tuberculosis left to work on. So I engaged a few members of the National Team and sought their opinion on which to pick first. Eventually, we settled for Tuberculosis and here we are today.

I must confess Tuberculosis Control is quite an interesting field, though. I’ve found it very engaging and quite intriguing.

Are there challenges you’ve faced in your current office? Can you share some?

Of course, nothing good comes without challenges.

My first challenge must be organisations not showing willingness to take a chance on our ideas because we’re students. This is always a sad setback because you want to do the mathematics yourself and imagine what these organisations are missing out on.

Now you know how I feel when organisations look down on my proposal of sensitising 1,000,000 Nigerians on a certain disease condition if we get good sponsorship from them. At NiMSA, we have the numbers to make this happen. But organisations are always trying to be too careful that they don’t want to take a chance on us. This is a very big challenge.

How do you balance academics with the demands of your position in NiMSA?

Well, I always tell people that work-life balance is a myth. I mean, every single thing you set your mind to achieve unbalances your life in a way.

Premised on the foregoing, I do not think striking a balance between my academics and position in NiMSA is really a thing.

I’ll simply want to end the discussion with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that says, “…If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, you must keep moving…”

Anyone is free to make of that statement, whatever they will. But that is how I approach the issue of striking a balance.

Any last words?

I will simply like to give a shout-out to members of the NiMSA National Infectious and Communicable Diseases Team. You all are amazing individuals, and I am grateful to be serving with you all.

And yes, I’m also using this medium to invite every IFUMSAite reading this to volunteer for our Free General Medical Checkup and Tuberculosis Screening Outreach holding in Ile-Ife this Saturday, 9th October 2021. Let’s touch lives together!

Finally, I am aware that Medivoice News and Literary Club will be around for the outreach this Saturday. So on behalf of the Planning Team for the outreach and myself, I am saying a big ‘Thank You.’

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