Professorial Inaugural Lecture by Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji
The Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, through the Public Lectures Committee invites the Academic Community and the general public to a Professorial Inaugural Lecture of Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji scheduled as follows:
Abstract of the Lecture
Topic: “Facts from Artefacts: A Journey in Statistical Inquisition.”
Maternal and Neonatal mortality continually ranks high on the global healthcare pyramid and access to high-quality and affordable healthcare services is essential to reducing the avoidable maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. The threat to a woman and child during birth is critical, more so when she has no access to proper health care. In 2017, the Maternal Mortality Estimation Interagency Group (MMEIG) estimated that 295, 000 maternal deaths occurred globally of which 196, 000 (66%) were from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). SSA maternal mortality ratio (MMR) was 542 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to a global ratio of 216 deaths per 100, 000 live births (WHO/UNICEF 2019). Ghana made progress by reducing its MMR and Infant Mortality Ratio (IMR) from 740 to 319/100 000 live births and 80 to 41 infant deaths / 1000 live births respectively, between 1990 and 2015 (GSS/GHS, 2017). Despite this progress, Ghana’s rate is still much higher than acceptable. It is therefore crucial to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the newborn during this critical time to reduce the high risk of morbidity and mortality to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 3; Good health and well-being for all, at all ages.
The inaugural lecture highlights the role of statisticians in the relentless pursuit of truth amidst the intricate interplay between facts and the artifacts that often obscure them. Grappling with a profound challenge: How to distinguish genuine facts from artifacts that data sometimes seem to be, extricate evidence from random happenstance, and discern reality from distortion. This is more so, when monitoring and evaluating health-related policies.
To shed light on the nuances of statistical inquisition and its applications, with a particular focus on maternal and child healthcare in Ghana, the lecture delves into the quantitative assessment of the impact of key healthcare policies, such as the Exemption Fee Delivery Policy, the Free Maternal Healthcare Policy, and the accelerated MDG5 framework. Through meticulous research adopting Bayesian forecasting, and Time series models, the impact, efficiency, and effectiveness of the interventions are evaluated. A nuanced examination of regional variations in policy outcomes is undertaken and results showed the overall effectiveness was not as high as expected but there were very good performances recorded in some regions.
The lecture extends to broader health-related research topics, encompassing studies on overweight and obesity prevalence among women, anaemia in pregnancy, sensitivity analysis of pregnancy outcome predictive models, the proposed model for postpartum hospital length of stay, and the existing knowledge-practice gaps in newborn umbilical cord care. The comprehensive approach also encompasses global childhood health challenges, such as measles dynamics.
The lecture further delves into the substantial contributions made to promoting statistical literacy. This involved the establishment of KNUST-Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis, (KNUST-LISA), a statistical consulting centre that actively engages in various initiatives. These initiatives include targeted capacity-building programmes for female scientists, collaborative projects on transportation modelling, international endeavours focused on biomathematics and bioinformatics applications, and other initiatives.
In addition to the empirical findings, the lecture puts forth the following policy recommendations to promote equity in the accessibility and affordability of healthcare, address regional disparities, and enhance maternal and child healthcare outcomes.
- Address regional disparity in the Availability and Accessibility of Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Care (EMoNC): The provision of maternal and neonatal healthcare should be informed by the local population demographics and mathematical techniques borrowed to identify their optimal locations within districts and communities for easy accessibility. Community-based healthcare initiatives should be integrated to enhance accessibility, ensuring that essential maternal and child health services reach remote areas where traditional healthcare infrastructure may be lacking and the targeted interventions to address regional disparities in maternal and child healthcare outcomes should focus on areas with higher mortality rates and limited access to healthcare resources.
- Reform Community-Based Healthcare Initiatives: Community health programmes reduce inequity in access to health resources and help to address disparities resulting from socioeconomic and spatial distribution. The Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) introduced in 1999 as the key primary health care strategy in Ghana was fraught with a myriad of implementation challenges, and to address them, strengthening the implementation of the CHPS Initiative (CHPS+) was introduced in 2017. Post-CHPS+ studies have shown that some of the challenges persist primarily because of the lack of community ownership inadequate logistics and the capacity of the community health workers to handle emergency delivery and resuscitation of newborns (Kweku et al. 2020). An important component of the reform should be addressing community entry lapses and investment in capacity-building programs for healthcare professionals, focusing on skills enhancement in areas such as antenatal and postnatal care, neonatal healthcare, accurate data collection, and data-driven decision-making.
- Community involvement in International Collaboration Frameworks: Empirical results from the Dynamic Linear Model proposed for policy monitoring show the accrued FMHC policy and MDG5 accelerated framework utility falls below the required national effectiveness level and the policy cost much higher than expected for efficiency. Given the several collaborative frameworks with international development partners to leverage expertise, resources, and support for comprehensive maternal and child healthcare programmes, the persistent relatively high maternal and neonatal mortality is concerning. Experience has shown that interventions are more successful and sustainable when the community owns the project and does not perceive it as “their project.” Community ownership and sustainability beyond donor agency funding should be consciously incorporated into the intervention programmes.
- Capacity-building programmes for data-informed decision-making: Statistical analysis should be considered as a fundamental component in the policymaking process, to ensure that decisions are evidence-based and grounded in reliable data. The Ghana Health Service should invest in capacity-building programmes for healthcare professionals, focusing on skills enhancement in areas of data collection and analysis for real-time evaluation of healthcare interventions and their impact on maternal and child health outcomes for data-driven decision-making. In disseminating intervention impact, collaborations should be forged with media outlets to promote accurate reporting and interpretation of statistical information. Journalists should be encouraged to undergo statistical literacy training to enhance their reporting skills.
- Public awareness campaigns and Education Initiatives for statistical literacy: To address the underutilization of data among the general public, the Ghana Education Service and NGOs should launch nationwide campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of statistical literacy, emphasizing its relevance in making informed decisions and understanding complex issues. Comprehensive statistical literacy programmes should be implemented in schools and universities, integrating statistical concepts into various subjects to develop analytical skills from an early age. In addition, collaborations could be fostered between government agencies, academic institutions, and private organizations to develop and share resources that promote statistical literacy.
- Workplace Training and Community workshops: Organisations should provide training programmes for professionals across various sectors to enhance their statistical literacy, enabling better decision-making and problem-solving within organizations. At the community level, local workshops and seminars could be organized to educate communities on basic statistical concepts, empowering individuals to critically assess information and make informed choices.
The lecture concludes by advocating for statistical inquiry imbued with integrity and underscores the responsibility of the audience as informed citizens and torchbearers of inquisitiveness.
Keywords: Facts, Artefacts, Statistical Inquisition, Maternal and Child Healthcare Policies, Policy Monitoring, Bayesian Forecasting Models, Regional Disparities, Global Health Challenges, Statistical Literacy, KNUST-LISA, Healthcare Interventions, Policy Recommendations.
Profile of Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji
BSc. (Ilorin), MSc., PhD (Ibadan), MPH (Kumasi)
(A Professor of Statistics at the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, KNUST)
AAtinuke Olusola Adebanji (Née Sanni) is a professor of Statistics at the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Faculty of Physical and Computational Science, College of Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. As a statistician with requisite cognitive and analytical skills, Atinuke Adebanji has two decades of experience as a career academician and research scientist. Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji (Nee Sanni) was born in Lagos, Nigeria on December 12, 1968 to Mr. Moses Mobolaji Sanni and Mrs. Abigail Arinola Sanni (Nee Afolayan) both of blessed memory.
She hails from Okele in the Ilorin East Local Government of Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, Nigeria. Atinuke started preschool at Ideal Nursery and Primary School and continued her primary school education at Bishop Smith Memorial Primary School. She attended Government High School for Forms 1 and 2 and later transferred to Queen Elizabeth Secondary School to complete Forms 3 to 5 where she obtained her West African School Certificate in 1984. She enrolled in the School of Basic Studies at the Kwara State College of Technology for her A level and gained admission to pursue a BSc in Statistics at the University of Ilorin in 1986, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Statistics in 1990. Following her mandatory national service with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) between 1990 and 1991, she obtained a Certificate of Achievement for Programming and Analysis from NCR Lagos, in 1992.
After a hiatus, Professor Atinuke Adebanji obtained her Masters and PhD degrees in Statistics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria from 2000 to 2006. Subsequently, from 2007 to 2008, she utilized a 2006 - postgraduate fellowship awarded by the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) at the School of Mathematics of the University of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2009, Professor Atinuke Adebanji obtained the Association of African Universities (AAU) staff exchange fellowship to serve as part of the foundation adjunct staff that started postgraduate programmes in mathematical sciences at the University for Development Studies, Navrongo Campus (now, CKT-UTAS) and in December of the same year, joined KNUST as a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics.
To expand her range of statistical applications and interest in health interventions and policies, Professor Atinuke Adebanji, obtained an MPH in Population, Family, and Reproductive Health from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in 2016. This would better align her research focus with the field of public health. In 2017, she was awarded a Senior Research Scientist Fellowship from Mujeres Por Africa Foundation to undertake research at the Institute of Mathematics at the Autonomous University, Madrid, Spain. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Professor Atinuke Adebanji was appointed the Head of Department (HOD) for Mathematics at KNUST and further became the foundation HOD for the newly created Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at KNUST from 2019 to 2023. Professor Atinuke Adebanji played a focal role in the introduction of the Statistics programmes at KNUST, and subsequently, the creation of the department.
Her academic journey made possible by the unmerited favour and love of God and the support of her mentors (Prof. Olutayo Iyaniwura, Prof. Sagary Nokoe and Prof. Ibok Oduro), coupled with hard work, reflects her deep-rooted dedication to the field of statistics and its application.
Academic and Administrative Experience
Professor Atinuke Adebanji has over a decade of experience in university administration. She is a seasoned public speaker and a staunch advocate for mentoring both students and younger faculty members.
She began her career as a Statistician II at the External Trade Unit of the Federal Office of Statistics, Ribadu, Lagos in 1991 and subsequently moved to UAC Nig PLC as a Trainee Accountant. She worked at two divisions of UACN before taking a break from her corporate endeavours to raise a young family and later returned to academia to study for her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Statistics at the University of Ibadan.
Her academic career started as an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, University of Agriculture Abeokuta, (UNAAB), Nigeria in July 2003, and was promoted to the rank of Lecturer II and Lecturer I in 2005 and 2007, respectively. At the University of Agriculture Abeokuta, she was part of the team that facilitated the establishment of the Department of Statistics (out of the Department of Mathematical Sciences) in 2008 and served as its Acting Head in addition and postgraduate programme coordinator before joining KNUST as a Senior Lecturer in 2009. She was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Statistics in 2013. She attained full professorial status in August 2018. In recognition of her dedicated service to KNUST, Professor Atinuke Adebanji was nominated as the first international staff member for election as Pro Vice-Chancellor in 2022. She is also the first female in Ghana to attain a professional rank in statistics.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji is the immediate past Head of the Department for Statistics and Actuarial Science, College of Science (August 2019 to October 2023). She had earlier served as the Head of the Department of Mathematics and the Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Physical and Computational Sciences. She is the originator and Coordinator of KNUST- Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (KNUST-LISA) and created the KNUST Actuarial Science Examination Programme (KAPEC) to prepare Actuarial Science Students for the Society of Actuaries (SOA) professional exams. Through KAPEC, brilliant students are provided with coaching, professional mentors, scholarships for examination fees and study materials to write the SOA exams. This has yielded impressive performance records, and some candidates graduate with at least two professional papers under their belt.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji has served on several committees both local and international. She was the College of Science Rep on the Student Financial Services Board, KNUST, and was on the councils of the Madina Institute of Science and Technology, Accra (as KNUST Rep), and Wisconsin University College, Accra. She also served on the International Statistical Institute (ISI) Jan Tinbergen Awards Committee for the 63rd and 64th World Statistics Congress in The Hague, Netherlands, and Ottawa, Canada in 2021 and 2023. In addition, she served on the Florence Nightingale Award Committee for the 31st International Biometric Conference, July 2022, Riga, Latvia, and the Florence Nightingale Award Committee, for the 30th International Biometric Conference, Seoul, South Korea, 2020 (Virtual); the International Planning Committee, 30th International Biometric Conference, IBC2020 (2018 – 2020); the International Mathematics Union Africa Region Assessor for Open Arms programme for the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Currently, Professor Atinuke Adebanji is a member of the International Biometric Society Representative Council and is also the Ghana Country Rep for the Caucus for Women in Statistics. Professor Atinuke Adebanji currently serves as the Chairperson for the KNUST Public and Inaugural Lectures Committee.
Membership in Professional Bodies
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s membership in the International Biometric Society (IBS) since the year 2000, and membership on the Representative Council, demonstrates her proficiency in applying statistical approaches to biological research. She advocates for the active involvement and participation of women in science, particularly in developing countries as a member of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). Her contributions to the International Statistical Institute and membership in the Caucus for Women in Statistics demonstrate her dedication to global statistics projects and promote gender equality in the statistics sector. Her involvement with AIMS Ghana Girls in Mathematics programme, the Global Talent Mentoring Project in Germany, and AuthorAID show her commitment to advancing mathematical sciences.
Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji is a founding and executive member of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Ghana (WiSTEMGh), and is a strong advocate of women in STEM. Her advocacy affords her affiliations in several important organisations, and she engages in activities that promote women in STEM. She has been honoured for her work “empowering women and advancing science in Africa” as a Fellow of the African Scientific Institute and the Mujeres Por Africa -MxA (Women for Africa). USAID features her work in supporting women scientists at https://medium.com/usaid-2030/supporting-women-scientistsedab01628e69.
Her involvement with the Sub-Saharan Africa Network of the International Biometric Society has helped scientists in low- and middle-income nations publish their findings, advancing international scientific discourse. Throughout her career, Professor Atinuke Adebanji has substantially contributed to statistical knowledge, demonstrated her dedication to women’s responsibilities in science and mathematics, and made a lasting impression on the statistics community.
Teaching and Thesis Supervision and Examination
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s teaching portfolio has been in the theory and application of statistics. This has covered undergraduate and graduate courses such as Statistical Theory, Statistical Inference, Probability and Distribution Theory, Multivariate Data Analysis, Generalized Linear Models, Nonparametric Statistics, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Further
Regression, Statistical Methods, and Applied Statistics. Her current teaching portfolio consists of Regression Analysis, Statistical Inference, Statistical Modelling Tools, Statistical Methods for Research, and Analysis of Categorical Data. She has chaired eleven PhD supervisory committees and is a Co-Chair for four; eleven of which are completed. She has also supervised Thirty-Nine Masters theses and more than eighty BSc projects and also serves as a postgraduate thesis examiner at some universities within and outside Ghana.
Research Outputs and Publications
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s research interests focus on understanding multidimensional problems (Multivariate Data Analysis), Discrimination and pattern recognition, Biostatistics, and Generalized Linear Models. In particular, she focuses on theories underpinning the understanding and measuring of the relationships between variables to inform classification and pattern recognition and predict event outcomes. Her current research is on nonlinearity in MultiBlock Data Analysis with application to health data. She has been actively involved in statistical collaboration and statistical capacity building for researchers in academia and industry.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji has eighty research-informed publications to her credit, presented her research at twenty-five international conferences, and attended twenty-eight continuous professional development programmes (schools and workshops).
Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji has distinguished herself not only in the field of statistics but also as a researcher whose influence impacts society. Her research in statistics extends beyond theoretical advancements, directly influencing practical applications in areas crucial for transforming evidence into actionable practice and advancing statistical literacy. Her combined effort for women in STEM and serving as a role model for females in the mathematical sciences has enabled her to contribute meaningfully to both academia and society.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s research impact can be found on Academia, Google Scholar, and ResearchGate, with a cumulative of Twenty-Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Twenty-Two reads and Thousand and Ninety-One mentions. Professor Adebanji is a reviewer for some international journals, including Psychology in Schools, BMJ, Heliyon, Emerald, Modeling Earth Systems and Environment, Statistics in Transition, and the Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods.
Grants and Collaborations
Professor Atinuke Adebanji works assiduously to increase the department’s, college’s, and University’s exposure and visibility by fostering external ties and collaborative ability. A few of these collaborations include the Global LISA 2020, placing students for internships and national service, working with the Science Technology and Innovation Directorate of MESTI on KNUST-LISA’s capacity-building programme, and co-hosting the Sub-Saharan African Network of the International Biometric Society (SUSAN 2023).
In 2012, she was a facilitator of a Ph.D. grant by the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative to 3 awardees of the Department of Mathematics. In the same year, she was part of the team that secured a postgraduate research grant in reservoir simulation, awarded by Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and the Norwegian Academy of Science and letters for the National Institute of Mathematical Sciences (NIMS).
Professor Atinuke Adebanji was a recipient of the African European Mediterranean Academy for Science Education grant in 2017 and the open Arms grant of the International Mathematics Union in 2018.
She was lead PI for a USAID-funded project for capacity building for female scientists, the International Statistical Institute fund in 2020, the Transforming Evidence to Action Capacity in Higher Education (TEACH) fund, and the TUM Global Incentive fund in 2021. In 2022, she was awarded a research grant by the Volkswagen Stiftung fund for postgraduate training in Bioinformatics and Epidemiology in collaboration with colleagues at TUM and MOI University. The same consortium has secured a 2023 DAAD grant for postgraduate training in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. The trajectory of research over the years paints a vivid picture of commitment and excellence in statistics, and her focus on statistical capacity building marks a significant investment in promoting statistical literacy.
Her leadership in the KNUST-LISA projects reflects a blend of learning and leadership roles. Furthermore, the grants received from Vodafone and CAL BANK for the launching and onboarding of women in STEM in 2018 and 2019 reiterate a commitment to gender equality in science and technology.
The travel and short visit grants from institutions such as the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, the African European Mediterranean Academies for Science Education, the International Biometric Society, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Association of African Universities, facilitated her participation in key conferences, enhancing knowledge exchange, highlighting a consistent pattern of international collaboration and research.
Fellowships and Awards
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s career is a testament to the unmerited grace of God, her commitment to the field of statistics, and her dedication to fostering global scientific collaborations. In 2021, she was appointed as a Member of the Representative Council of the International Biometric Society, a role she is set to hold until 2025. This position underscores her significant influence in the biometrics community. In the same year, she was a recipient of the Impactful Women Award. In 2020, Professor Adebanji achieved another milestone by being elected as a member of the International Statistical Institute, recognising her outstanding contributions to the field of statistics. This places her among statisticians globally, further highlighting her international standing.
Her journey through academic and research excellence took a notable turn in 2017 when she was awarded the Senior Research Scientist Fellowship by the Women for Africa Foundation in Spain. This prestigious fellowship was utilised at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT), the Autonomous University, Madrid, Spain.
Since 2016, Professor Atinuke Adebanji has been a Fellow of the African Scientific Institute. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Association of African Universities staff exchange fellowship, utilised at the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University for Development Studies, Ghana, demonstrating her commitment to fostering educational exchange and collaboration within Africa. Earlier in her career in 2006, Professor Adebanji was awarded the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World postgraduate fellowship, which she utilised at the School of Mathematics at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, highlighting her early dedication to advancing her expertise and contributing to the global scientific dialogue. Each of these achievements reflects not just her deep-seated expertise in statistics but also her commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and mentorship. Her roles and recognitions are a beacon of inspiration, showcasing a career dedicated to excellence, collaboration, and the elevation of scientific understanding both in Africa and globally.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji is an ardent believer in mentoring students and younger faculty as she continues to learn from her mentors. Some of her mentees are now her colleagues, heads of departments in other institutions across the country, and in recognised global companies. She plays a focal role in promoting the uptake of STEM courses through the WiSTEMGh flagship Girls’ Camp and outreach to schools, as well as mentoring female Mastercard scholars in KNUST.
Community Service, Engagements, and Outreaches
Professor Atinuke Adebanji’s enthusiasm has transcended into her being a source of inspiration to communities of local and international colleagues, students, and researchers. As part of her community engagement, she reviews reputable journals and distinguished international award applications in her domain. Professor Atinuke Adebanji has served on the Council of Wisconsin University, Ghana, and as the KNUST representative on the Council of the Madina Institute of Science and Technology, Accra.
Professor Atinuke Adebanji is a regular external resource for curriculum development, programmes review, institution accreditation, subject examinations, and staff promotion for universities and research institutes.
She was a panellist at the Price Water Cooper (PWC) 27th Annual Education Conference and also gave the key address at the University of Eldoret’s 10th Anniversary on the theme: Celebrating a Decade of Knowledge and Innovation, in March 2023. Professor Adebanji was the keynote speaker at the Financial Economics Forum in Ghana in 2022 and 2023, serves as a regular resource person for Ghana Education Services, Science Education Unit, and served as the Asawasi Sub-Municipality District Supervisor, for the Sub-National Immunization Campaign against Polio in 2015. She shares her knowledge at several students’ and community programmes.
Professor Atinuke Olusola Adebanji is blessed with three (3) children - Oluwalani, Oluwatoni, and Eriifeoluwa - from her marriage to Mr. Jacob Adebanji. She is a Christian and a member of the Calvary Charismatic Centre (CCC), Kumasi. She enjoys gardening, reading, and watching documentaries. She loves the quiet environment, traveling, and classical music.
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