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Stella Adadevoh

Stella Adadevoh

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh was a Nigerian physician credited with preventing the wider spread of the Ebola Virus in Nigeria during the Ebola Virus Epidemic in 2014. On August 4, 2014, it was confirmed that she tested positive for the virus, and 15 days later, she passed on. Dr. Adadevoh was also the first person to alert the Nigerian Ministry of Health when swine flu spread to Nigeria in 2012.

Early Life and Education

Stella Adadevoh was born on October 27, 1956, in Lagos, Nigeria. Her father, Babatunde Kwaku Adadevoh, was a physician, professor of chemical pathology, and the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos. Her grandfather, Herbert Macauley, was a distinguished scientist and one of the founders of modern Nigeria. She was also the grand-niece of Nnamdi Azikiwe, a great great granddaughter of Sara Forbes Bonetta, and a great great great granddaughter of Ajayi Crowther.

Stella Adadevoh attended the Mainland Preparatory Primary School, Yaba, Lagos, from 1961-1962, after which she spent two years in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving back to Lagos to continue her education. She attended Corona School, Yaba for her primary education, and Queen’s School, Ibadan for her Secondary school education.

Dr. Adadevoh obtained a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Lagos. She completed her residency at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, receiving her West African College of Physicians and Surgeons Credentials in 1983. She completed her fellowship in endocrinology at Hammersmith Hospital, London. After this, she returned to Nigeria, working as the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at First Consultants Medical in Lagos for 21 years.

Work With Ebola Virus

On July 20, 2014, a Liberian-American attorney, Patrick Sawyer, arrived in Lagos from Monrovia, Liberia. He was heading to a conference on economic development in Calabar and collapsed at the airport. 

Patrick Sawyer was then taken to First Consultant Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with malaria by one of the doctors. Although no Nigerian doctor had seen a case of Ebola before, Dr. Adadevoh suspected the patient might have been exposed to the highly contagious virus and subsequently ordered blood tests to confirm her suspicion.

Dr. Adadevoh then alerted the Nigerian health ministry while awaiting test results. Although Liberian government officials pressured her to let the patient attend, and she was even threatened with lawsuits, Dr. Adadevoh stood firm, stating that she would not release the patient “for the greater public good.”

The test results came back positive for the Ebola virus, making Patrick Sawyer Nigeria’s first Ebola virus case. Despite a lack of protective equipment, Dr. Adadevoh created a wooden barricade outside Patrick Sawyer’s room to serve as a form of Isolation. She also informed the other health professionals in the hospital about the virus and procured protective equipment. 

Following her report, the Nigerian government declared a national public health emergency and the Nigerian Ministry of Health set up an Ebola Emergency Operations Center. Unfortunately, in treating the initial patients, Dr. Adedevoh contracted the virus and passed away in quarantine. Three other health workers at the medical centre also contacted and succumbed to the virus. 

On October 20, 2014, the WHO declared Nigeria Ebola-free. 

Awards and Legacy

The Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh Health Trust, a non-profit that focuses on promoting health, preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and strengthening Nigeria’s emergency preparedness, was created in her honour. In February 2020, a road in Abuja (Ameyo Adadevoh) was named after her. Dr. Adadevoh has also received several awards posthumously, including CNN’s leading woman of 2014, Posthumous Rotary Award, and the Guild of Medical Directors, FCT distinguished service award.

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