IMAGINE a nation already overwhelmed by terrorism, crime and political tension now ravaged by a disease without a cure and its source, a mystery!
With a decrepit healthcare system, a vast population, majority of which is poor, and a medical personnel on industrial action against the government, imagine the imperiousness and rage with which summary death would have reigned and the swath of the population it would have felled by now. But one woman stood between this grim spectacle and her country, laying down her life instead.
Nigerians certainly owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the physician who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty to save millions of her compatriots from the grip of a rampaging, deadly virus. For her, it was not enough to save the life of a terminally ill patient to whom she was innocently exposed; she put her life on the line in a desperate situation so that a whole nation might be saved.
This singular act of selflessness saved Nigeria a monumental tragedy of the spread of Ebola virus which, within six months of resurgence in West Africa has claimed, at the last count, no fewer than 1,350 lives. Adadevoh showed that she was not only a thorough professional, she was a rare breed. First Consultants Medical Centre, Lagos, her employers, and all of her patients knew her for her brilliance and diligence as a saviour of lives. Nigerians and humanity now celebrate her as one who even gave her own in saving theirs.
Two nurses who found themselves in the same predicament as Ameyo Adadevoh and other doctors already affected will forever be remembered as patriotic Nigerians who risked their lives to give the country hope.
At the last count, Nigeria had, according to the Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, also recorded the first two cases of secondary contacts with Ebola. They were spouses of the late primary contacts which has now brought to four, the number of those under treatment at the isolation ward for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Official records indicate that there are currently 14 recorded cases of Ebola affliction in Nigeria including the index case, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American and official of ECOWAS who irresponsibly acted against official cross-border travel advice, to Nigeria on July 20. Sawyer, on admission “denied having been in contact with any person with EVD at home, in any hospital or at any burial.” He died five days later having had a patient-discharge request professionally and patriotically blocked by Dr. Adadevoh “despite intense pressure”, after the diplomat tested positive to EVD. Such was Ameyo Adadevoh’s commitment and patriotism that her heroic gesture of treating Sawyer and holding him down at that hospital was what led to her exposure to the virus as a primary contact. Sixty-seven persons under surveillance are known to have completed the 21-day incubation period for Ebola and have been discharged.
The low casualty figures overall are a testimony to the gallantry of Ameyo Adadevoh and the pro-active decisions the Health Ministries of the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government in containing the spread. It is noteworthy that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has hailed the performance of Nigeria and Nigerians over this crisis. To their credit, measures taken so far by the governments at all levels are a huge improvement on the previous tardy handling of such medical challenges.
Between Sawyer’s case and the possibility of a pandemic in Nigeria, Ameyo Adadevoh was the rock that stood and prevented death from assuming a national reign. Hers was an uncommon story of diligence, exceptional ability, sacrifice, heroism, selflessness and an unwavering commitment to the Hippocratic Oath.
In saving Nigeria from a crisis by that exemplary conduct, she taught all citizens the finest ideals of service to humanity, and she is now in the caravan of the greats. Adadevoh has made history and has changed the course of Nigeria’s history. All Nigerians are devastated by her death and the country is diminished by the loss of such a beautiful spirit. Her simplicity, inner and outer beauty were legendary and her devotion to her duty as a physician made her a poster girl for the culture of service that Nigeria so desperately needs. Her therapeutic pleasantness in relating to patients was widely attested to by all. Yet she was so humble and never got carried away by her illustrious background or good qualities.
Adadevoh became a doctor at 25. Her education was stellar and her breeding was illustrious, with roots in one of the best known Nigerian families. Herbert Macaulay, her great-grand father, and celebrated founder of modern Nigeria and her father, Prof. Babatunde Kwaku Adadevoh who was a distinguished physician, academic and university administrator, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, must be proud of the legacy Ameyo Adadevoh has now left for Nigerians.
Her life remains a lesson and should encourage all to build a new nation of selfless citizens. Nigeria needs such citizens as Ameyo Adadevoh to lift a beleaguered nation. Her departure is a huge loss that nothing can redeem. But as a token of appreciation from a grateful nation, a monument like the National Hospital, Abuja or a similar edifice can be named after her by the Federal Government. The Lagos State government too will do well to build a monument in honour of this rare gem.
Nigeria cannot do enough to immortalise Ameyo Adadevoh, the heroine who died so that her nation may live.