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Did You Know? Dora Akunyili Won 930 Awards, Making Her Highest Award Recipient In Nigeria

With the increasing number of illegal works being celebrated in Nigeria especially among the youths, one will think that good works hold no water , this is not true , we have alot of people who have recognised globally for their good works in Nigeria, one of which is Dora Nkem Akunyili OFR who was the director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria from 2001 to 2008.

During her lifetime Dora was a recipient of 820 awards for her level of dedication, involvement and positive change from to the food and drug regulatory body in Nigeria.

According to HistoryVille her husband late Chike Akunyili discovered additional 110 awards packed safely in her boxes which makes her awards 930, no other Nigerian has been recorded to win such number of award so far and this amazing!

Dora Akunyili

HER EDUCATION AND CAREER

Dora Edemobi was born in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria to Chief Paul Young Edemobi who hailed from Nanka, Anambra State on the 14th of July, 1954. She received her First School Leaving Certificate from St. Patrick’s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State, in 1966 and had her West African School Certificate Examination (W.A.S.C) at Queen of the Rosary Secondary School Nsukka, Enugu State in 1973, where she graduated with Grade I Distinction consequently, she won the Eastern Nigerian Government Post Primary Scholarship and the Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship. She went on to study pharmacology at the University of Nigeria (U.N.N.), graduating in 1978 and received her Ph.D. in ethnopharmacology in 1985.

She served on several state government boards and then was named supervisory councilor for agriculture in a local government unit in Anambra State.She worked as a hospital pharmacist in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. (U.N.T.H), Enugu State.

In 1981, she became a graduate assistant in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNN. In 1990, she became a senior lecturer and in 1996, she was made a consultant pharmacologist at the College of Medicine.

In 1996, Akunyili became zonal secretary of the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (P.T.F), coordinating projects funded by profits from oil in Nigeria’s southeastern states. In 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed her the director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

HER FAMILY

She was married to late Chike Akunyili, a medical doctor, and they had six children: Ijeoma, Edozie, Somto, Njideka, Chidiogo and Obumneme. In 2017, one of her children, Njideka Akunyili Crosby was awarded the prestigious Genius Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

HER WORK AT NAFDAC

She was appointed NAFDAC DG in 2001 and served till 2009.

Akunyili had a special motivation for attacking the country’s counterfeit drug problem and this is because, in 1988, she had watched her sister aged 21, die after being given injections of fake insulin as part of regular diabetes treatment.She put together a team of mostly female pharmacists and inspectors and started a war against counterfeit drugs that saw many open-air medicine markets across the country closed down. Including one in Kano State after her officers confiscated £140,000 worth of fake drugs.The agency, under her leadership, broadcast jingles on radio and television to make the public aware of the dangers of substandard drugs and to encourage people to report suspicious drugs while also publishing lists of counterfeit products regularly in the newspapers.

In July 2003, the International Children’s Heart Foundation visited Nigeria to operate on sick children at a teaching hospital in Enugu. After four children died in what appeared to be a case of counterfeit medical supplies, and despite being confronted with what seemed to be a hospital cover-up, Akunyili confiscated supplies and found fake adrenalin, fake muscle relaxant and infected intravenous drips.

As of June 2006, she was reported to have secured convictions for 45 counterfeiters with 56 cases pending. Her efforts led to increased public awareness about counterfeit drugs and more direct and purposeful surveillance at Nigerian customs.

Dora Akunyili During Her Sickness Period

HER DEATH

Dora Akunyili died at a specialist cancer hospital in India on 7 June 2014 after a two-year battle with uterine cancer.

Her funeral took place on 27 and 28 August, attended by many dignitaries from within Nigeria and beyond, including former President Goodluck Jonathan, and a former Nigerian military ruler General Yakubu Gowon. Akunyili was laid to rest at Agulu in Anambra State.

In 2012, her book: The War Against Counterfeit Medicine: My Story was published

Though now late, Dora is still very much celebrated for the positive change she brought to NAFDAC and Nigeria as a whole.

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