Mariya Saleh

2017 Winner

Position: Associate Director, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Organization: FHI 360
Current Location: Nigeria, Africa

MSc Reproductive and Sexual Health Research from University of London/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Additional Degrees and Certifications:
• MD

Awards Received:

Best Community Medicine Dissertation
Awarding Organization:
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Date Awarded:
April 11, 2006

Mariya Saleh began her career in family planning 10 years ago, as an intern with the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN). She worked at PPFN’s clinic in Abuja, providing family planning services and conducting outreaches to nearby suburbs. Mariya joined FHI 360 in 2009, where she currently is serving as Associate Director, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH). Mariya is passionate about delivering high-quality family planning services to underserved women. Some of her work includes which integrating family planning into HIV services, expanding community based family planning using community extension workers and mobile family planning services in humanitarian settings. Mariya works closely with federal and state-level stakeholders providing technical assistance during the development of strategic plans, operational plans, guidelines, service delivery and monitoring and evaluation tools. She is fluent in English and Hausa. Mariya has a master’s degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine of the University of London, and a Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

“Mariya’s pilot project formed the basis for a policy change that allows CHEWs to provide injectable contraceptives in Nigeria today. She leads efforts to ensure integration of family planning services into general health, MCH and HIV services.

– Nominator

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

My work in family planning has been a mix of both policy work and programming. In 2012, I worked on a project which involved translating evidence on task shifting for injectable contraceptives to a policy change which allowed community health workers to provide injectable contraceptives in community settings in Nigeria. This was closely followed by developing a costed implementation plan for the pilot state and competency based training materials.

I have also worked on FP-HIV integration on a large scale HIV project. This work has expanded access to FP for more than 10,000 women living with HIV. Recently we have also made efforts to expand access to LARC in ART settings.

Next, I look forward to reaching 500,000 women and girls with RH including LARC services in north-east Nigeria.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

In Nigeria during the early 1990s, there was a massive demand creation effort for family planning. There was a very popular song by two big artistes and it had a hook that went “if you love me, you go wait for me”. I was less than 10 years old at the time but it made a lasting impression. I came to associate family planning with love. This was reinforced during my time as a service provider with the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria. I still believe this to this day.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

I am lucky to work for an organisation which values innovation. I am thus able to design and implement somewhat novel approaches to family planning or modify traditional approaches in non-traditional settings. I have led task shifting policy change efforts for a previously under-utilised health worker cadre, implemented integration of family planning into HIV programmes and to come up with new ways in which to deliver family planning to women and girls displaced due to the Boko Haram insurgency.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work?

If I were named a winner, I would use the 120 under 40 platform to increase acceptance of family planning. Social Media is one of the most powerful tools for reaching young people, the group who need family planning the most. I would use the grant to expand access to family planning information on social media and other online platforms/apps. With the right family planning information going out I believe a critical mass of young people will finally have agency over their future.