How misdiagnosis killed Akunyili (FULL STORY)


After surviving several rumours of her death, a  former Minister of Information and Communication and erstwhile Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili, bowed to ovarian cancer early yesterday.

Meanwhile, her death was blamed on misdiagnosis by some doctors in the United States (US). The doctors were said to have claimed she did not have cancer after her Nigerian
doctor’s diagnosis to the effect she had the sickness.

News of her death was officially announced by a  former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, on the Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS. Obi  said  Akunyili  died after a protracted battle with cancer.
Obi, in the statement, said: “On behalf of the Akunyili  family, I wish to officially confirm the death of Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili, OFR, in a Specialist Cancer Hospital in India today at 10 am, Nigerian time, after a two-year battle with cancer. In spite her illness, Prof. Akunyili was unwavering in her belief in a better Nigeria. That was why she defied her condition and was part of Anambra State Handover Committee and the National Conference.”

The statement continued: “The last time I visited her in India, even when she needed all the prayers herself, she was full of concern for the abducted Chibok girls, security and other challenges facing the country and told me that she remained prayerful for the release of those girls and for God to help President Goodluck Jonathan to overcome all the challenges facing the nation.
“She therefore urged all Nigerians to remain prayerful and committed to building a better society for our children. We all prayed together and I promised to be visiting her every month. “We thank all those who remain fervent in prayers for her recovery and urge them to remain prayerful for the peaceful repose of her soul.”
Concern about Akunyili, who had been on admission in hospital for an undisclosed ailment, had made the rounds  in recent times.
For several weeks, rumours of her battle with ovarian cancer dominated  the social media. Although family sources debunked the stories, the rumours got stronger.

The Cable, an online medium quoting a family source, yesterday, blamed misdiagnosis for Akunyili’s death.
According to the source, when in 1998, the former Minister was the Zonal Secretary (South-east) of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, Nigerian doctors gave her what many of her family members considered to be a health scare. They said she had a growth and needed surgery.

The source narrated: “Akunyili, then 44, decided to travel to the United States, first to get a second opinion and then undergo the prescribed surgery. The bill for the medical trip was $17,000, including $12,000 for the surgery. During pre-surgery check-up in the US, the doctors told her the Nigerian doctors had made a wrong diagnosis and that she did not need any surgery.

“It was said to be a minor issue that medication would solve. She thanked the doctors and, to their surprise, said she was going to return the money meant for the surgery to PTF. That was strange. Nigerian government officials had devised a way of making sure such monies were not returned to the treasury.

“The hospital informed the PTF, under the leadership of Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, about one honest Nigerian they had found. Buhari, himself a straightforward person, was very impressed. He wrote a letter to Akunyili commending her honesty. NAFDAC Then came 2001. President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to appoint a director-general for the National Agency for Drug and Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and asked for the recommendation of an honest Nigerian pharmacist. Akunyili’s name promptly came up.



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