Nigeria has lost a renowned medical icon and consummate administrator in the death of Professor Emmanuel Adeyemo Elebute on February 23. His passage has attracted tributes from eminent Nigerians and members of the medical profession. No doubt, his death is a huge loss to Nigeria and the medical profession the world over.
Born in Lagos on September 15, 1932, Elebute attended the CMS Grammar School, Lagos, between 1941 and 1948. Later, he studied medicine at the Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained a BA, MB, BC.h., BAO in 1956. He was also conferred with MA and MD by thesis.
He won the Cunningham Medal for Anatomy, Aquilla Smyth Prize for Pathology, Bacteriology and Material Media and Fitzpatrick Scholarship for best performance in all professional examinations at the Trinity College. Despite many job offers abroad, Elebute returned home and joined the services of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lagos. He was appointed Professor of Surgery at the University of Lagos in 1969, Provost of the institution’s College of Medicine between 1977 and 1980 as well as the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, from 1978-1980.
There is no doubt that Elebute was passionate about developing the medical profession in the country. He was actively involved in the politics of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and served as its President between 1968 and 1970.
He contributed immensely to the growth of the medical profession in the country and mentored many medical students and healthcare professionals. He established the Lagoon Hospital in 1984 and served as its Joint Medical Director for several years. He also founded the Hygeia HMO Limited, a health maintenance organisation that provides healthcare cover for Nigerians, and served as its pioneer Chairman.
In his illustrious medical career, Elebute was appointed the Chairman of the World Health Organisation Task Force on the Development of Appropriate Technology for Health in the field of Laboratory Equipment and President of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
Professor Elebute was a renowned surgeon and scholar of international repute. He held many Fellowships in Surgery. He was Foundation Fellow of the Faculty of Surgery and an accomplished Professor of Surgery. He was a member of the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Surgery. He was also the second President of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria between 1984 and 1985. In that eminent position, he made enormous contributions to the growth and development of the college, postgraduate medical education and the medical profession in general.
Professor Elebute was also the Founder and Chairman of the Society for Quality in Healthcare in Nigeria (SQHN) which was established in 2006. He was appointed the Chairman of Glaxo Group of Companies in Nigeria in 1981. He was also appointed the chairman of the Board of Management of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, in 2005 by the Federal Government. Later, Elebute was elected the Chairman of the Committee of Chairmen of the Federal Government’s 53 tertiary hospitals.
In recognition of his contributions to medical education and healthcare in Nigeria, Professor Elebute was conferred with the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the Federal Government. He was also the holder of many distinguished academic and professional awards. He would be sorely missed by many Nigerians, his colleagues and students. The deceased was a great mentor, role model, teacher and administrator par excellence. Considering his numerous contributions to medical education and research, we urge the Federal Government to immortalise him. We commiserate with his family, colleagues, the medical profession and the government and people of Nigeria on the demise of the medical icon. May God grant his soul eternal repose.