ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY; NOT ALL HEROS WEAR SUPERCAPES.1
The 19th of August every year is a time to celebrate those who face and have faced adversity and danger in a bid to help others and save the lives of others. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the plight of civilians around the world who have become caught up in conflicts and also honour and raise support for the humanitarian workers who risk and sometimes lose their lives to help.
This day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 and was first officially celebrated in 2009. 19th of August was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad where Sergio Vieira De Mellothe, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and twenty other lives were lost.
On this day, just like Sergio Vieira De Mellothe, Nigeria remembers Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh. In October 2014, when the Nigerian Government released the 2014 National Honours award list of over 300 people, there was an outcry which was largely because, the name Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh was absent and the award could not be given posthumously.
On October 20, 2014, after what seemed like a miracle, the World Health Organisation declared Nigeria Ebola-free, exactly three months the virus came to be in Nigeria. This miracle was largely attributed to the heroic acts of Dr. Adedadevoh.
Dr. Adedadevoh was the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos where she had worked for 21years. She had never seen Ebola before but she was able to diagnose and contain Nigeria’s first ever Ebola patient, Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian National who happened to be the carrier of the virus to Nigeria. Despite the threats by Liberian officials to sue her for kidnapping and forcefully detaining the victim, she resisted the pressure and did not release him for the greater public good.
Also, Dr. Adedevoh understood that Nigeria’s health system was not prepared to deal with an outbreak at that time. According to a journalist, Simon Kolawole in a tribute to her, ‘there were various options in front of her when she discovered that Sawyer had ebola: one, quietly say ‘e no concern me’ and discharge him quickly to avoid contaminating the hospital; two, refer him to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, not minding the bigger consequences for the rest of Nigeria; three, act responsibly in line with the ethics of the medical profession and detain him because of the peculiarity of the disease’. Dr. Adadevoh went for the third option here and prevented a major outbreak in the most populous African country, alerting government to contain the spread of what could have been a major outbreak in Nigeria.
Her perception, courage and persistence traced all the 20 ebola cases Nigeria had to a single path of transmission originating from Patrick Sawyer. Out of the 20 ebola cases, 11 of them were health care workers, of those healthcare workers, 6 survived and 5 died, including Dr. Adadevoh in August.
After her death, the Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh Health Trust was established in honour of her. This organization is committed to ensuring Nigeria has a healthy society supported by a strong healthcare system that is prepared to prevent, detect and contain infectious disease outbreaks.
Dr. Adadevoh’s story is only a proof that we do not need superhero capes to attain heroism. Our simple acts of care in our everyday lives and work clothes is enough. Happy World Humanitarian Day!
- DRASA, Dr. Ameyo Stella Adedevoh. Retrieved from http://www.drasatrust.org/dr-adadevoh/
- Ogunlesi (2014) Dr. Stella Ameyo Adedevoh: Ebola Victim and Everyday Hero. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifestyle/womens-blog/2014/oct/20/dr-stella-ameyo-adadevoh-ebola-doctor-nigerian-hero
- WHO (2014) WHO declares end of Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/nigeria-ends-ebola/en/
Written by:- OlaJesu Lord’sfavour Deborah