BY KATE OKORIE
Stella Adadevoh was posthumously awarded the inaugural Africa CDC-DRASA award at the International Conference on Public Health in Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
The award was created to recognise the contribution of the continent’s frontline health workers during infectious disease outbreaks.
Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, made the announcement before the conference’s ministerial session on Wednesday.
“To our frontline health workers, we salute you and are proud of what you are doing for this continent. We are so proud that we have decided to establish the Africa CDC-DRASA Awards awards for frontline health workers,” Ouma said.
In July 2014, Adadevoh diagnosed Nigeria’s first case of Ebola and led the team that oversaw the patient’s treatment. The Liberian patient had been scheduled to attend a business conference in Calabar, Nigeria.
It was reported that she was threatened by Liberian authorities to discharge the patient for the conference, but she resisted the pressure and instead alerted Nigeria’s public health authorities.
The physician shortly passed away on August 19, 2014, after contracting the virus. Her decisive action is believed to have prevented the spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria.
The award, partly named after Adadevoh, was received by Bankole Cardoso, her only child and chairman of DRASA Health Trust, a foundation established to continue her legacy of protecting public health.
Eulogising the late physician, Ouma said: “There is no greater sacrifice than giving your life knowingly so that you can protect the rest of the 200+ million Nigerians, the rest of the 1.5 billion Africans because if Ebola had spread in Nigeria, it would have been a totally different picture from what we know now.
“We owe a lot to Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, and today we will like to do something special for her.
“Africa CDC has decided to name this continental award for emergency health workers after her in recognition of that sacrifice.
“Every year, we are going to be opening a call for nominations, and the first call will go out in 2023, but the 2022 inaugural award will be given to Dr. Ameyo post-humously for her sacrifice, for her work, for her efforts of protecting us for the greater public good.”
Nigerian public health experts also celebrated the latest recognition for Adadevoh who is regarded as a national hero.
Ifedayo Adetifa, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), applauded Adadevoh and her team members for their sacrifice.
Ebere Okereke, senior technical adviser at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, also tweeted: “This recognition of Dr. Stella Adadevoh’s sacrifice marks a beginning of Africa recognising the contribution of its own.”
Vivianne Ihekweazu, managing director of Nigeria Health Watch, wrote: “Fantastic to see Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh honoured at the opening ceremony of CPHIA2022. There is no greater sacrifice than giving your life for the greater good of others. May her memory continue to be honoured.”
The International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) kicked off on Tuesday, with the 55 member states of the African Union (AU) represented among the delegates.
The conference provides a space for multi-national collaboration in order to tackle indigenous health challenges and champion the continent’s health security agenda.