A colossus at 80


Rarely in this blog do we celebrate individuals, as there are sadly not many people to celebrate in our health arena. We share a collective guilt in our profession of not (yet) fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people.

But some of us are less guilty than others and today we will celebrate one – Professor Adetokubo Lucas as he turns 80! I met Professor Lucas after he had already retired but a more energetic, knowledgeable and humble elder statesman I am yet to meet. Prof takes every call, answers every email and responds with candour, honesty and engagement that is simply extraordinary in our Nigerian context. In the the course of the last few years I have met other senior colleagues who have been taught by Professor Lucas while at the University of Ibadan and beyond and not one has not been inspired by his teaching. He is rare, not only in what he knows but in his humanity and humility. That makes him special – very special to us,  a leader, an inspiration to a whole generation of Nigerian doctors.

As founding Director of WHO’s TDR programme (Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases), TDR invested about US$200 million to combat malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, leprosy, onchocerciasis, and lymphatic fi lariasis—achieving great success against the last three diseases. In his autobiography “It was the Best of Times“, he recounts his struggle despite the odds to establish TDR, the innovations he introduced, and his navigation of the WHO environment. The book is reviewed in the Lancet.

Professor Lucas is an officer of the Federal Republic and Member of the Governing Board of the Global Fund for Fighting AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He has been a major force in scientific research whose deep life long interest in tropical diseases facilitated the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge in Leprosy, Onchocerciasis and other diseases. He is an international leader in the fields of preventive medicine and Tropical diseases who effectively deployed his knowledge and passion to human development in these fields. We wish him many more years in the service of humanity.

To celebrate his turning an octogenarian, his colleagues and friends invite you to 2 events – one at the University of Ibadan and the other at the University of Ife. Both functions are open to the public and invitations are included below. See you there!


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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