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HomeArts + CultureNigerian public health giant who played a major role in polio eradication

Nigerian public health giant who played a major role in polio eradication

Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu, who died on 2 October 2023, was once born in Yerwa (Maiduguri), Nigeria, in 1930. Broadly thought to be some of the nation’s early leaders in public well being coverage and observe, he was once the primary public well being doctor within the northern area and remained energetic all his lifestyles.

He’s going to be remembered for his nice paintings in removing poliomyelitis from Nigeria. He began the Nationwide Programme on Immunisation in 1995 and was once the company’s first chairman. His efforts, with others, culminated in Nigeria attaining polio-free status on 18 June 2020. The rustic was once formally declared freed from the illness on 25 August 2020. Poliomyelitis basically affects kids below 5 years of age.

Umaru Shehu served because the main adviser at the Polio Eradication Initiative in Nigeria. In 2003 five northern Nigerian states boycotted the oral polio vaccine because of fears that it was once unsafe. Shehu was once the individual the government grew to become to on the lookout for an answer. He was once invited to lend a hand cope with misconceptions concerning the polio vaccine. As a consultant with over 40 years of enjoy in illness prevention and eradication, he was once some of the northern professionals who qualified the oral polio vaccine protected and efficient.

He was once appointed chief of a staff comprising conventional rulers, Islamic non secular clerics, instructional scientists and lay group leaders that was once mandated to talk over with Islamic international locations corresponding to Saudi Arabia and Malaysia that have totally authorised the polio vaccines. This was once achieved to dispel the unfounded claims that polio vaccines had been laced with circle of relatives making plans brokers in addition to HIV. It was once the document of that committee that persuaded the states to withdraw their ban at the vaccines. The ban had a significant damaging affect on regimen immunisation.

Pastime for paintings

He can also be ignored because of his pastime for paintings and forward-looking disposition. In 1994 there was once a significant epidemic of meningitis in neighbouring Niger Republic, and the International Well being Group had instructed Nigeria to organize for the same outbreak. In consequence, he ordered and stocked just about two million doses of meningitis vaccines. Unsurprisingly, Nigeria in 1996 recorded a deadly disease of the illness. It was once the vaccines he ordered that the rustic utilized in fighting the illness.

Management adventure

He moved to the Ahmadu Bello College as affiliate professor of group drugs in 1968. Right through his time there, he was once appointed director of the Institute of Well being by means of the then vice-chancellor, Professor Ishaya Audu. He performed a vital function in setting up the scientific faculty within the college in 1967.

On the time, there was once no usual instructing medical institution that was once on top of things for scientific coaching of scientific scholars. In consequence, the college government needed to way the Kaduna State govt to permit the brand new faculty to make use of 3 hospitals. Common Hospitals in Zaria and Kaduna, and the Rural Well being Centre, Malumfashi had been licensed for the essential scientific instructing.

The Institute of Well being below Shehu assumed the tasks for operating the hospitals. That association remained in power for just about 50 years since the designed instructing medical institution was once by no means finished. The college’s scientific departments determined to transport to the brand new web site anyway, and the college returned the 3 “borrowed” hospitals to the Kaduna State govt.

Shehu was once appointed vice-chancellor of the College of Nigeria Nsukka in 1978, a place he reluctantly authorised. He left in 1979 after only one instructional consultation and joined the WHO. He had previous served as a short lived guide to the sector well being frame prior to he was once appointed Nigeria nation consultant.

The interplay between him and the overdue Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a professor of paediatrics and Nigeria’s well being minister between 1985 and 1992, was once extremely synergistic. It caused many certain strides for the rustic’s well being gadget, particularly number one healthcare.


His schooling started on the Borno Heart Faculty. He was once then admitted to Kaduna School, which become the well-known Barewa College, Zaria. Established in 1921, this secondary faculty produced the who’s who of northern Nigeria. His classmates incorporated the overdue Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Nigeria’s former everlasting consultant to the United International locations, Waziri Ibrahim (the flesh presser recognized for his mantra “politics with out bitterness”) and Sir Kashim Ibrahim, the primary indigenous governor of northern Nigeria.

Shehu was once a number of the basis scholars of College School Ibadan in 1948, the place he studied drugs. At the moment scientific scholars in most cases proceeded to the United Kingdom for scientific research. Thus, he graduated MB BS London in 1953 (some unverified accounts say 1956). He returned house to serve in the first republic management of northern Nigeria, and was once to begin with posted as scientific officer in hospitals in more than a few cities. He was once later moved to the Ministry of Well being headquarters, Kaduna, as scientific officer of well being. This was once a public well being task and he issued the first actual region-wide round mandating regimen immunisation in 1965.

A person of many portions

He was once a Basis Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science when it began in 1977. He later served as its president between 1981 and 1983. He was once additionally the primary emeritus professor in northern Nigeria, appointed by means of the College of Maiduguri. He additionally served as chairman of the governing board of the Nigerian Nationwide Benefit Award, which assesses teachers and execs for the Nigerian Nationwide Order of Benefit. He was once pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing councils of Bayero College Kano and the College of Lagos. As well as, he chaired the Nationwide Motion Committee on Aids, and the Institute of Human Virology.

On a private be aware, when I used to be about to lose my placement in the United Kingdom for additional postgraduate coaching, he and the overdue Dr Hamza Zayyad, then bursar, persuaded the vice-chancellor to facilitate my quick dispatch to London on 31 January 1972. I will be able to by no means disregard this career-saving gesture.



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