Pro-Health International was founded in 1991 by four medical professionals: Drs. Mark Umoh, Efem Iyeme, Owido Udofia, and Iko Ibanga, who were concerned about taking free, quality healthcare to rural communities in Africa where easy access to healthcare was a challenge. For Iko Ibanga, Pro-Health International was a culmination of past desires and experiences.
During the Nigerian civil war, malnourished, impoverished and sick refugees passed through his hometown of Uruk Uso in a steady stream and 6 year old Iko sought to alleviate their suffering. At every opportunity, he would gather bits and pieces of food that were available in the house and share with the refugees. His mother usually reprimanded him for giving out too much food, but Iko always sought to do more. He determined that he would grow up to become a doctor and treat people for free.
As a medical intern, Iko Ibanga recalls a patient who could not pay his bills and was detained in the hospital. While trying to negotiate the release of this patient, a fellow doctor said to him, “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you go out there and treat them for free?” These words kept him awake all night and his childhood desires re-surfaced.
This desire was heightened when he met Dr. Bob Schoffstall, an American missionary and general surgeon, who inspired and encouraged him to volunteer on his first medical mission. Dr. Ibanga’s experiences influenced him to start an organization that would deliver quality healthcare in rural areas without cost to the recipients. The organization would also encourage Nigerian healthcare professionals to provide healthcare services voluntarily.
The heart of Pro-Health International’s work is to bring quality healthcare to the communities where easy access to healthcare is a challenge. Majority of these communities are located in rural areas. The lack of access to healthcare, either through hard-to-navigate geographical terrains, lack of facilities, finances or knowledge of their need for proper healthcare, contributes significantly to the poor health indices recorded in many African communities.
Since inception, Pro-Health International has grown into an international family of over 3000 volunteer healthcare professionals fulfilling the vision to improve the health of Africa’s people – especially those who live in the rural areas – at little or no cost to the recipients, and with the love of Christ.
Pro-Health International has come a long way from its first 3-day healthcare outreach where 3 doctors saw 300 patients and carried out 15 surgeries. We have grown from 2-3 medical missions annually to executing about 25 medical missions yearly in Nigeria and Africa.