Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka is passionate about what he does. He lives and works in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, but his role as the Medical Health Officer for the Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) goes far beyond the borders of this thriving city. Dr. Ndubuka not only loves his work and the people he works with, he embraces the community where he lives, one that is situated on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River and is commonly referred to as the “Gateway to Saskatchewan’s North.”
Dr. Ndubuka came to Saskatchewan looking for an opportunity to further his career. He saw an opportunity in Saskatchewan. He seized that opportunity in 2012 by applying for a Family Physician opening in Melfort that a friend had referred to him. Soon Dr. Ndubuka found himself and his family moving to a new city and province. Since then the Ndubuka’s haven’t looked back.
“I just love it here,” said Dr. Ndubuka. “It is exciting to live and work in the North, there’s lots to do for both adults and kids; you have walking trails, biking trails, in-door sports facilities; my children play soccer and do ice skating; and I coach soccer as well. You can be anywhere in this city in about 10 minutes and the culture here is one we embrace.”
As mentioned, Dr. Ndubuka is the Medical Health Officer for NITHA. The NITHA is a one-of-a-kind, First Nations managed organization that delivers health programming to 33 northern on-reserve communities in six health regions across the province’s north. It is a region that is vast, sparsely populated and at times difficult to access. “A large proportion of the population served by NITHA is First Nation. My work in this area includes communicable disease surveillance such as monitoring HIV, Tuberculosis, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) rates and mumps. These are all public health concerns that need to be monitored and controlled. They happen to be ones that I am very interested in learning more about so that is why I really love what I’m doing right now.”
In a climate that is continually focusing on team-based primary health care, the NITHA model embodies every aspect of such an approach. It delivers health care services to the people of the North through what is known as a third level service. Third level health services are provided by NITHA to bands and tribal councils. These services include disease monitoring, planning, education, training and technical support. The second level of service is provided by multi-community bands, tribal councils and in some cases, single bands in several communities. They deliver program design, implementation, administration and training of staff. The first level of services is provided in the community directly to community members. It is a very unique way of delivering health care services and one that involves physicians like Dr. Ndubuka, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, dieticians, epidemiologists and more.
According to Dr. Ndubuka another important aspect of delivering public health services is advocacy and education. “When you are trying to make an impact in a specific community on some public health issues, advocacy for better programming and disease awareness are key components of this job. It is this part of the job that I enjoy, although it is challenging because there are variety of health issues to advocate for and educate people about and you’re doing all of these within a unique and dispersed population in Saskatchewan’s North.”
Dr. Ndubuka, his wife and four children are working, going to school and giving back to a community and province they now call home. NITHA, Prince Albert and Saskatchewan are happy to have them and glad they chose to live, work and play in a province where more physicians, health care workers and their families are welcome.
“Prince Albert is a great place to live and raise a family. I work in a profession I am passionate about, I can drive anywhere in the city within a few minutes and I have an opportunity give back through volunteering and being part of a larger community that has allowed me to do this all.”