Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Global Ministries Names Director of Global Health

By Linda Unger*

January 20, 2015—Olusimbo Ige, a public health physician, has been named by the General Board of Global Ministries to head its Global Health unit and lead The United Methodist Church’s worldwide health focus.

Dr. Ige is a public health physician with broad experience in Nigeria and working with international health and development organizations.
Dr. Ige is a public health physician with broad experience in Nigeria and working with international health and development organizations. Photo: Christopher Tricomi

Dr. Ige hails from Nigeria, where she worked with government health programs at the local, state and national levels. She also served there as a consultant on infectious diseases with the World Health Organization, USAID and others, and as a lecturer in epidemiology at the University of Ibadan.

While working with USAID’s malaria-control program in the southwestern state of Oyo, Dr. Ige helped design, implement and evaluate programs that proved so effective in the fight against malaria that Oyo was named the most improved state in malaria-control performance in 2013. 

Focus on health

“We are so pleased to have Dr. Ige as our director of Global Health,” said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of Global Ministries. “Her experience living and working in Africa will be beneficial for all our work, and her expertise in public health program design and implementation will be invaluable.”

Dr. Ige said, “I’m excited about the opportunity to partner across the continents, not only in Africa but in Asia and Latin America, and also in the U.S., where we have a strong health initiative.”

She will give leadership not only to the agency’s Global Health unit but to the worldwide health focus of The United Methodist Church. The denomination has defined four areas of ministry focus and tasked Global Ministries with leading that related to improving global health.

The agency has restructured the Global Health unit to make it more agile for the task. It moved it from under the umbrella of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which the agency also oversees, and assigned Dr. Ige a seat on the cabinet, or leadership body.

It also added to the unit responsibility for the Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV), which supports United Methodists and ecumenical partners in providing ministries of prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery and advocacy. 

Vocation for healing

Olusimbo Ige grew up “surrounded by books and learning,” she said, at the University of Ibadan, where both her parents were professors. She ultimately undertook her medical studies there, and went on to specialize in public health.

She later pursued a Master’s degree in epidemiology and is working on another Master’s, in global health leadership, through the University of Manchester, England.

As director of Global Health, she looks forward, she said, to being “part of the work all over the world to ensure that people who don’t have access to the health care they need, who don’t have the information to protect themselves from departures from health, can, because of the programs we support.”

*Linda Unger is senior writer for Global Ministries.