Why Nigeria needs more Prof. Hippolite

Prof. Hippolite

By Anthony Isibor

WHEN the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, announced Professor Hippolite Amadi as the winner of this year’s prize for Science, not many realized that the Professor’s major objective was not stardom, but to report a very crucial problem of abnormally high death rate of new born babies in Nigeria.

The Professor of Medical Engineering and Technology, who won the NLNG 2023 prize for Science for the Polite Heart Sea Park and the other technologies that are associated with it, i.e. the Polite Oxygen Blend and the Polite Oxygen Splita System told Realnews that his dream is to see a drastic cut in infant mortality rate in the country.

The Nigeria-born Professor of Imperial College, London stated that the high rate of infant mortality, which is crippling Nigeria, and has brought about a global shame for the country, is a problem that only Nigerians can solve. “If you like, be a friend of the biggest countries in this world, you will remain there forever until you decide to solve it yourself”.

Nigeria will definitely need more patriotic men like Prof. Amadi, whose passion to see a drastic reduction in the number of infant deaths in the country, pushed him into the quest to find the root causes of these deaths and how they can be solved.

Prof. Amadi also wanted to stop the suffering of women by ensuring that every baby born has a chance to live. He said this could also go a long way in managing population growth in the country.

He disclosed to Realnews that this drive was birthed 27 years ago when he walked into a unit at a hospital in Calabar as a very young researcher to the stack reality that several newborns at the hospital may not make it through the night for lack of warmth.

According to him, the doctors at the hospital had given him the impression that “If we could keep these babies warm, they would survive.”

“So I said, okay. I was going to look for what to do, I was still a very young researcher, you know, to see how I could solve that problem. So I began the process. So when it looked like I had solved the problem, I now discovered that the problem was yet to be finished. All right. So from there, I now had to start studying the other contributing factors.

“So the first of it that I started tackling was thermal support, the new neo natal thermal support, we call it thermal neutral support, because that was what was presented to me 27 years ago to be the problem that was making babies to die.

“Each one of them that became clear to me, I had to first of all study the science. Some of them would need studying the technology, I have to study the technology, next, I will now go into providing any antidote and all that. So there have been quite a lot.

“Thermal neutral support is one of them. I’ve had to deal with issues of Jaundice, I’ve had to deal with issues of, for example, climate, how climate was affecting the babies, which is another very open one that took years to solve.

“So when people are talking about climate, climate is affecting life, big time and is affecting the life of newborn babies, big time. People don’t know, people don’t talk about it. But when I discovered that climate was impacting the babies, I started another major study, which the global health really had to come through being into it in order to benefit from it. So it’s big, it’s a good idea.

“I had to create mitigating intervention techniques for keeping the Nigerian babies safe under the weight of the climate. So that’s one aspect of it.

“There is also an aspect that will cause functionality of building. People do not even pay attention to that, but building is one of the most neonatal equipment. But people think that keeping babies in a room is like you build some structures and you call it hospital, then you wake up one morning and you tell the new neonatologist, “you see that room there, just take the babies there.” that is not neonatology, It’s far bigger than that. So I’ve created a lot of science around building as an equipment.

He thanked the NLNG for the big gong that it provided for Nigerians to discuss the big Nigerian problem and to find a way forward to solving it.

“So it’s not about me, it’s not even about NLNG.  It has brought along the way, and because I’m not just, I’m not just representing myself or maybe celebrating myself, I’m actually representing the babies.”

He said that what Nigerians and the NLNG are now celebrating; the Polite Heart Sea Park;  is the result of that quest which began 27 years ago; a technology which can now help Nigerian new born baby’s breath as well as regulate the amount of oxygen that it requires to survive.

Professor Amadi also revealed that the product being celebrated is one out of seven, and apparently the latest of all, because the research into respiratory support devices was conceptualized in 2015, began in 2017 and introduced in 2018.

“From 2018, quite a number of hospitals across the country have used the Polite Heart Sea Park and the other technologies that are associated with it, i.e. the Polite Oxygen Blend and the Polite Oxygen Splita System.

“These are the three technologies that NLNG saw and they said this is worth celebrating. But when they now went to investigate it, they discovered that it’s just one out of all the other things that have been going on in the last 27 years.

With this invention now supplied to the hospital at the rate of N750,000 as against N6.5 million, the professor disclosed that he has no plans of making profits and called on all potential investors, including the government to have the same problem solving mindset.

 He explained that similar products from foreign countries may not be able to compete because his was produced with locally sourced materials

He said: ‘Don’t think about any other thing. Think about this baby, that 846 babies every day is not correct. We don’t want it. In my generation before I retire, if Nigeria, if NLNG and the rest of Nigeria will come behind me, well, including the government, I don’t want them to stand on the fence. If before I retire, we will have that number. I know that we are able to bring that number down to, you know, a quarter of it. It is possible. But I’m not asking for too much. If we can bring that number down, I mean, two years’ time, three years’ time that the demographic report would now say that Nigeria is no longer bearing 846, they are now bearing 430. I can retire, retire happily. And then I will now challenge my mentees that you guys got to finish it up because I will still be on the line giving them troubles. And perhaps before I die, I will see them finish it up.

“That is what will make sense, to me, to every newborn baby in Nigeria is giving them hope. And to women, you know, there is an aspect I have not really been talking about, how this impacts the Nigerian women. I know the kind of things that go on in the North. What I was actually trying to do in Niger state with the Amina Center is to give the women hope.

“If a woman, who makes up her mind that I’m going to have four pregnancies, and then she set her mind to do it. And that’s what she does because she knows that there is a 90% chance that she’s going to take four children home, and she’s going to raise four children out of four pregnancies.

“But you know what goes on right now? If they’re going to have four children, they would target to have eight pregnancies. So in the process, because they don’t know whether they’re going to survive or not. So while they’re still nursing one, they are pregnant for another. Because they don’t know whether this other one was going to die. That’s what is going on.

 “So you will now see them carrying too many children than they can handle because they’re not sure which one of them would survive. So it’s not a matter of telling them to stop producing, stop producing, no, you can’t tell them to stop producing because they are not sure. But if you give them that assurance that we have the facility to ensure that if you are set to produce four, those four will be there for you, we will not have more. Some people are talking about the population of Nigeria, that’s one of the ways to bring the population down, bring up quality offspring and make sure that they live. So this is an open ended discussion, and unless you put your mind to it, you will not know the dimension that are coming up.”


-November 06, 2023 @ 14:58 GMT |