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Impact of women in the Health Sector of Nigeria

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By Ochen Faithfulness Tampioruobari and Owhor Greatman Adiela

A popular quote by Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey (1875-1927) says “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation). A deep insight into this statement tells of the relevance of educating a girl child.

READ ALSO: LASG targets 2.5m new enrollment for health scheme

In Africa, women are believed to be the newborn child’s primary caregiver; the paid nanny, the forbearing grandmother, or an elder sister is likely to take care of a child especially during the critical years of that child. The care provided by these women encompasses even the very health of that child. In a way to elaborate this quote, let’s take a brief look at the biography and impact of certain women in the health sector of Nigeria.

  • DORA NKEM AKUNYILI (July 14, 1954 – June 7, 2014)
  • Impact of women in the Health Sector of Nigeria
    DORA NKEM AKUNYILI

Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili was the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria from 2001 to 2008.

EDUCATION / CAREER

Dora Nkem Akunyili obtained her first degree in Pharmacology in 1978 at the University of Nigeria, Enugu State. This marked the beginning of her journey to impact greatly in the health sector of Nigeria. She was trained as a pharmacist with a PhD in ethnopharmacology from the University of London, UK. She worked as chief executive of the southeast zone for Petroleum Special Trust Fund.

HER INTEGRITY

One important virtue that created opportunities for Dora Nkem Akunyili in the early years of her career and the drive that kept her going despite her challenges was her integrity. Dora Nkem Akunyili was sent to London for surgery to treat a pancreatic problem and was given €12 000 for medical costs. The physician found out she didn’t need the surgery, therefore she returned the money. The chief executive of the Petroleum Special Trust Fund was shocked and he said, “I never knew that there are still Nigerians with integrity “.

HER APPOINTMENT

Later, the minister of finance was visiting the offices and called her in. He said, “My friend Chief Obasanjo wants somebody that will clean NAFDAC, go and give me your CV because I also heard you are a pharmacist “. Akunyili met with Obasanjo to discuss the job and a few months later, her name was announced.

HER CHALLENGES

She faced challenges of lack of confidence at her early career stages, life-threatening situations and failed assassination attempts. But she was still resilient.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Despite being a woman and all the challenges she faced, Dora Akunyili depicts the character of a strong leader who fearlessly battled the greed and ignorance that allowed drug counterfeiting to thrive in Nigeria. At that time, over 60% of drugs in Nigeria were believed to be fake from China, India or factories in the southern part of Nigeria (pulse.ng).

Her sister being a diabetic, died aged 21 yrs after taking fake insulin. This led to her fierce determination to eradicate all fake drugs in Nigeria.

During her tenure as the Director-General of NAFDAC, the proportion of fake drugs sold in Nigeria drastically reduced by about 90%.

Akunyili also worked on the sanitation of ‘pure water’ to significantly reduce the outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever.

 

AMEYO STELLA ADADEVOH (Oct 27, 1956 – Aug 19, 2014)

Impact of women in the Health Sector of Nigeria
AMEYO STELLA ADADEVOH

EDUCATION / CAREER

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh graduated from the University of Lagos, college of medicine with a Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery. She served her one-year mandatory horsemanship at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and obtained her West African College of Physician and Surgeon Credentials in 1983.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Being a resilient leader in the health sector, Dr. Adadevoh is credited with having curbed a wider spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria. She placed the Liberian patient, Patrick Sawyer, in quarantine despite pressure from the Liberian government.  She has received a humanitarian award.

Dr. Adadevoh showed remarkable creativity and innovation as she tried to create an isolation area despite the lack of protective equipment, by creating a wooden barricade outside Patrick Sawyer’s door. Her heroic efforts saved the nation from widespread infection.

Dr. Adadevoh was the first to alert the Nigerian Ministry of Health when H1N1 spread to Nigeria in 2012.

 

FOLASADE TOLULOPE OGUNSOLA

Impact of women in the Health Sector of Nigeria
FOLASADE TOLULOPE OGUNSOLA

Professor Folasade Tolulope Ogunsola is a Nigerian professor of medical microbiology. She specializes in disease control, particularly, HIV/AIDS. She is reputed as being the first female provost of the college of medicine, University of Lagos.

EDUCATION / CAREER

Ogunsola obtained her first degree from the University of Ife and got a Masters’s degree from the college of medicine, University of Lagos. She then proceeded for her doctorate degree at University of Wales, Cardiff between 1992 – 1997.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Ogunsola’s achievements in the health sector and positions held are but not limited to the following:

  • Principal investigator at AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) at the University of Lagos
  • Chairman of Infection Control Committee of Lagos University Teaching Hospital
  • Chairman of National Tuberculosis Laboratory Working Group
  • Chairman of National Association of Colleges of Medicine

Ogunsola’s research activities are instrumental in setting up infection control programs in many institutions in Nigeria.

CHINEDUM PEACE BABALOLA  (1980-Present)

Impact of women in the Health Sector of Nigeria
Folasade Tolulope Ogunsola

Professor Chinedum Peace Babalola is the first female professor of pharmacy at the University of Ibadan. She is also the first female pharmacist in Nigeria to be inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Science (FAS).

EDUCATION

Babalola obtained all her degrees at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) with specialization in pharmacokinetic option in her doctorate.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Babalola is notable for her research that produced a novel High-Performance Liquid Chromatography method for the analysis of quinine in biometrics. Elucidation of the pharmacokinetics of quinine in Africa was done with this remarkable research and this formed the basis of dose optimization in malaria patients.

Babalola is one of the scientists that produced the first pharmacogenetic study in healthy and sickle cell patients in Nigeria.  Other achievements and positions occupied by Babalola are:

  • Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan.
  • Adjunct Professor in Genetics and Bioethics unit, IMRAT, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.
  • Fellow of the African Academy of Science and the Nigerian Academy of Science.

LUCY JUMEYI OGBADU (Sept 25, 1953)

Dr. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu

Dr. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu, a professor of microbiology served as the Director General/CEO of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), a research agency under the Nigerian Ministry of Science and Technology until the expiration of her tenure in 2018.

READ ALSO: NMA calls for overhaul of Primary healthcare nationwide

EDUCATION

Ogbadu enrolled for a bachelor of science in microbiology at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria before she obtained a doctorate degree in industrial fermentation in 1988.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Ogbadu initiated the technology transfer on the “Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System” from Cuba into Nigeria for mass production of elite plantlets.

She also facilitated the signing of a memorandum of understanding on vaccine production between Finley of Cuba and Nigeria in early 2013.

Ogbadu restored Nigeria’s membership of International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

NABDA under Ogbadu’s leadership developed probes and primers for detecting Ebola virus disease at the outset of the 2014 West African Ebola virus epidemic. The kits developed were capable of diagnoses within 24 hours of contacting the virus even before the symptom start manifesting, therefore preventing the spread of the disease.

These among many others have remarkably contributed to the growth and development of the health sector of Nigeria however these figures and the sacrifices they made still remain unknown to many young Nigerians.

IMPACT OF WOMEN IN THE HEALTH SECTOR OF NIGERIA

OCHEN, FAITHFULNESS TAMPIORUOBARI

OWHOR, GREATMAN ADIELA

A popular quote by Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey (1875-1927) says “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation). A deep insight into this statement tells of the relevance of educating a girl child.

In Africa, women are believed to be the newborn child’s primary caregiver; the paid nanny, the forbearing grandmother, or an elder sister is likely to take care of a child especially during the critical years of that child. The care provided by these women encompasses even the very health of that child. In a way to elaborate this quote, let’s take a brief look at the biography and impact of certain women in the health sector of Nigeria.

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