Nigerian Bags Thai Award

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Uche Amazigo, a Nigerian expert in public health whose research finding have helped in the treatment of river blindness in Africa has won the prestigious Prince Mahidol Award

|  By Olu Ojewale  |  Dec. 10, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

UCHE Amazigo, a renowned Nigerian scientist, and former senior lecturer, has won this year prestigious Prince Mahidol award in public health. A total of 75 medical personnel and scientists from 34 countries across the world, were nominated for the awards.

Amazigo, who holds a Ph.D. in Biology and Medical Parasitology from the University of Vienna in Austria, clinched the coveted prize in the public health category, while Britain’s Sir Michael David Rawlins, chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), won in the field of medicine.

The awards are given by the Thai Royal Family annually for outstanding achievements in medicine and public health worldwide and each awardee, receives a $100,000 cash prize. The award is in recognition of Amazio’s contribution to the successful community directed treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) strategy used by the World Health Organizatio, WHO, for the control of Onchocerciasis or river blindness.

The success of the CDTI approach, resulted from linking research and management strategies to empower communities to fully participate and take charge of their health care delivery system.

The method was adopted from Amazigo’s research work in 1990, which provided the scientific basis for the establishment of the WHO’s African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (WHO/APOC), with headquarters in Burkina Faso. This allows the laudable CTDI programme to be run by Africans for Africans, where the disease has been a major cause of blindness and skin disease with unrelenting itching, in many African countries.

A recipient of the distinguished Medal of “Knight of the National Order of Burkina Faso” in 2011, Amazigo said she was humbled by the award, and that she would receive it on behalf of African communities and those who had contributed services, materials and cash towards the success of the programme. “The money from the award will be used to expand the philosophy of CDI – community-directed school health and feeding programme in resource poor settings in Nigeria,” she said.

Having worked within WHO/APOC management since inception in 1996, Amazigo became the programme’s first female director in 2005, and was on that post until she retired in April 2011. Since the announcement of the awards, accolades have been pouring in for Amazigo for her unique achievement. A Washington D.C.-based Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit organisation made up of scientists, researchers, and advocates, described Amazigo as “a champion for NTD (Neglected Tropical Diseases) control and elimination in Africa.”

Onyeka Onwenu, a renowned Nigerian artist, described the awardee as “a magnificent human being; a humble innovator with a strong passion and commitment to good causes.” Only recently, Amazigo was honoured by the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, and the National Medical Research Institute of Tanzania for her immense contributions to public health management, while WHO/APOC received the One-million-Euro António Champalimaud Vision Award 2011, the biggest global award for outstanding contributions to the prevention of visual impairment and blindness.

Amazigo also trained in tropical medicine and parasitology at the Bernhard-Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany, and she also got a fellowship in International Health from Harvard School of Public Health, United States. Amazigo and Sir Michael will receive their awards at a ceremony in Thailand in January 2013.

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  1. Chief Mrs. Ethel Temiwunmi Adebawo (JP)

    Chief Mrs. Ethel Temiwunmi Adebawo (JP) was born in 1936; in the fishing community of Awoye in Ugbo Kingdom of Ilaje Local Government of Ondo State; to Mr. Joshua Amorioloye Ebuesuwa and Mrs. Peninah Ebiesuwa. She was the third of 4 female children of the same mother. After her early standard education, she took to teaching, a profession which earned her the nickname “mistress”. Here she became a driving force for education in her locality.

    Geared by her penchant for caring for others, E.T. as she was fondly called by her contemporaries, veered into medical support practice as a nurse’s aide. Her restless industrious spirit soon tried her hands in trading and distributive business which subsequently brought her fame and fortune.

    Chief Mrs. E.T. Adebawo helped start the Irepodun Thrift and Cooperative Society in her Ilaje Local Government of Ondo State, where she served as Executive Secretary and Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN) Zonal Coordinator for Ilaje and Ese odo LGA which made her a member of the organization’s Executive leadership. She became the leader of the Market structure in Igbokoda, which she developed from a handful of goods barters to a structured commercial phenomenon.

    In her life time, she was an entrepreneur,as one of the early COWAN disciples she became a champion of women empowerment and economic development, a social justice advocate, a member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (which she led in her Local Government) , a Lay Reader in the First African Mission Church, a member of the Ondo State Juvenile Courts, a Justice of the Peace, a Supervisory Councilor in Ilaje Local Government, a moral crusader, philanthropist and an embodiment of social acceptance.

    She was married to Superior Senior Apostle Numbers Mobolorunduro Adebawo and their marriage was blessed with 5 children – Mrs. Eunice Abebi Olabisi Ramoz (a politician, educator and development professional), Mr. Julius Oluwasegun Adebawo (a South Africa trained Gas-to-Liquid Maintenance Engineer, with Chevron Nigeria Limited) Pastor Adesola Omogbeminiyi Adebawo ( a journalist, reputation management expert and Communications Manager for Chevron Nigeria Limited), Mrs. Mabel Orimidara Ilawole ( a creative design entrepreneur) and Mrs. Evelyn Mobayowa Obebe (a business tycoon and entrepreneur).

    Testimonial: Mummy taught us to always value people above things. She made us believe relationships hold the keys to the vault of success. Her whole life may be summed up as: Love people but use things and never the other way round!

    Chief Mrs. E.T. Adebawo passed to the great beyond in 1994. May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

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