Good evening honored guests, colleagues, ladies, and gentlemen. I am quite honored and humbled to stand before you tonight as the fifth President of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas.
Seven years ago today, Dr. Iheanacho Emeruwa invited two other fellow physicians and I to his home in Riverside California to discuss the genesis of what we celebrate tonight as the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, ANPA. In the seven years, ANPA grew from an organization that was housed and nurtured in the Emeruwa household to a National Organization with six chapters all across the continental United States, and Canada. ANPA grew from a Mom and Pop operation with a modest budget of $14,325 in 1995 to $630,322 in the year 2002. Put in Acho Emeruwa’s terms ANPA has moved from Coco street in Riverside to Main street USA. One of ANPA’s past Presidents, Dr.S.K.Bosu, a neonatologist by trade used to describe ANPA as a newborn child that needed nurturing and protection. I submit to you tonight, ladies and gentlemen that the Emeruwas have done a marvelous job of nurturing ANPA, and on behalf of the entire membership, I thank you Dr and Mrs. Emeruwa.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it took the collective effort, dedication, and personal sacrifice of particular members and the support of the entire membership to get ANPA to it’s present state today. My admiration and gratitude go to every ANPA member in good standing.
The ANPA directory continues to be a showcase of our members to the world. My thanks to Dr. Shoroye for producing and editing the first three editions of the ANPA directory. It is my hope that by the next publication, every physician listed in the directory shall be a card-carrying, dues-paying ANPA member.
ANPA’s presence on the information superhighway cannot be ignored. Due to the effort and dedication of Drs Nkwocha Oguchi and Kunle Fajana,ANPA has assisted a good number of Nigerian Universities establish internet access and on a small budget of a few hundred dollars have maintained an ANPA website. I’m happy to state that efforts are now underway to expand our website to showcase our activities on an – ongoing basis.
I would, at this juncture, like to thank my immediate predecessor, Dr.Alphonsus Obayuwana for his unwavering dedication to order and the rules of governance. When such dedication invited unfair criticism, he remained steadfast in his belief that while the will of the majority must prevail, the rights and interest of the minority must be guaranteed and protected. He has shown uncommon courage in the discharge of his duties. He personifies the saying that “one with courage is indeed a majority”
Our medical missions have come to define who we are as the Association of Nigerian Physicians. Since the first medical mission in Quaan Pan, Plateau state in 1997,ANPA has conducted no less than twenty five medical expeditions to various parts of Nigeria. In all, an estimated five thousand operative procedures have been performed and about fifty-thousand patients have been treated for various medical conditions. The successes of the medical missions have been due to the dedication and sacrifice of a few members. My sincere gratitude goes to Dr. Festus Dada, the chair of the medical missions committee for having personally participated in no less than six missions, has donated, and continues to donate substantial material, personnel, and financial resources to the medical missions.
Drs Emmanuel Okafor, Eruchalu, Idusuyi, and Ero added a new dimension to the medical missions. In addition to performing surgery and treating patients, these physicians held didactic seminars in their various specialties with local Nigerian physicians and residents, both at the Nsukka teaching hospital and the Benin central hospital. Other members of honorable mention with the medical missions are Drs Oyemade, Umoren, Popoola, Olowopopo, Ganiyu, Odubela, and Dr. Ijeoma Ndukka. My gratitude goes to all these physicians, and to all those who have gone on private medical mission to various parts of Nigeria.
As I mentioned earlier, our medical missions continue to define us. It is our Raison D’etre. It is not our affluence or the academic achievements of our members that appeal to our donors and supporters, rather, it is the values and mission we claim to have. These values imply our adherence to the principle of helping fellow Nigerians and non Nigerians in ways in which we are best equipped. When we depart from these values, we do so at our own peril and risk being irrelevant to the Nigerian cause.
As you know, Nigeria is blessed with with excellence in just about every field of human endeavor, yet we share the unflattering position of being one of the worst in more than a few areas. Up to 45% of of our population has no access to CLEAN drinking water. HIV/AIDS continues to decimate our population especially our younger generation. While developed Nations reap the benefits of modern science and technology, life expectancy continues to decline in Nigeria and in most African countries. I believe that as Physicians, we have a unique advantage by virtue of our common descipline. By our examples and leadership, we can inspire other Nigerian professionals to organize themselves with a single objective of re-creating a healthier and prosperous Nigeria.
One of the tenets of journalism is to record events, but not interfere with the course of those events. Having recorded incredible human suffering all through his years of journalism, his inability to intervene got the best of him, and he committed suicide. As Physicians, on the other hand, the ethics of our profession, as enshrined in the Hippocratic oath that we all took demand that we intervene by any means necessary to improve the the lives of fellow Nigerians.Thank you, and enjoy the evening.
Olusegun. Z. Salako, M.D
President & Chairman, ANPA Inc.