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Health International Network System and Institute

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SIUC Alumni providing leadership in Minority Health

Dr.Justin Odulana's PictureAlthough he has spent most of his teaching life at predominantly white universities, Justin Odulana (PhD, 1990) has not lost his commitment and dedication to the plight and welfare of minority populations, especially those of African Americans. Those dedications were rewarded at the recent American Public Health Association convention held in Philadelphia last December, when the Association's Black Caucus of Health Workers conferred the Hildrus Poindexter Distinguished Service Award to him.

Dr. Justin Odulana, who served on the Governing Board of the Caucus and chaired the BCHW Bylaw credited his interests in the health of African-Americans to the excellent tutelage and exposure provided by the Community Health Education Department Southern Illinois University during his professional preparation under Professors Paul Sarvela and Dale Ritzel.

One of the missions of the Black Caucus of Health Workers is to emphasize healthcare and public health career opportunities to students at all educational levels, and to provide input that will positively influence American Public Health Association activities, policies and commitments to the health issues of people of African descent. The Poindexter Distinguished Award was bestowed on Dr. Odulana for his unconditional commitment to being dedicated for the cause and mission of BCHW and for his outstanding services in the field of public health.

The Poindexter Award is the highest honor the Black Caucus ever conferred on public health professionals to commemorate the proud national and international public health legacy left behind by Dr. Hildrus Poindexter. Born on May 10, 1901 in Memphis, Tennessee, Hildrus Poindexter, sixth of 11 children, financed his education by working in nearby coal mines and graduated with the MD degree in 1929 at Harvard Medical School. He became the first African-American member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and subsequently served as Vice President of the Washington, D.C. chapter and as a Trustee of the national body. He traveled, worked, and conducted research in many countries including 30 African countries, and died in April 1987 at the age of 86 in Clinton, Maryland.

Dr. Odulana was credited as the first professor to 1) develop and teach a course specifically addressing the disparities in the health of majority and minority groups to graduate and undergraduate university students in the state of Ohio; 2) for launching more than 300 students into public health career through various types of mentoring including career advising, taking students to local, state, and international conferences, and assisting them to present papers developed in his classes at professional conventions.

Dr. Odulana completed his undergraduate studies in London, England, his Masters in Public Health at the University of Illinois Medical Center, his Master of Science (cum laude) at Chicago State University, and his PhD at Southern Illinois University, Illinois. He has presented over sixty invited papers at conventions and conferences, published and coauthored more than twenty papers in refereed and non-refereed journals, conducted numerous scientific community studies that contributed to our knowledge of African-American unwed teen fathers, teen mothers, grandmothers, and other minority communities including Somalia and the Amish and the Mennonites.

Dr. Odulana who is also well known for his public health activities among African governments and many African-American non-governmental organizations retired from the academia in 2002. Before coming to the United States, Dr. Odulana worked as a staff writer for the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London, England, and as Program Officer for the IPPF Africa Region based in Nairobi, Kenya. He taught at Chicago State University, and was a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, and at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he was also the director of the Community Health Education undergraduate Program. In 1994, Dr. Odulana was inducted into the Who's Who Worldwide Registry, an honor limited only to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievement in their occupation, industry, or profession. Dr. Odulana is the founder and current president of Health International Network System based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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