Nigeria: Top Women Making Waves in Medical Profession


It’s a fact that to succeed in a male-dominated world, women who dare to venture into any professional field, especially in the health sector, need to go the extra mile against stereotypes. Refusing to be relegated to the kitchen and the ‘other room ‘, a few of them have persevered and broken the jinx in the all-important health sector.

Their feat is attributable largely to their resilience and the fact that the world, Nigeria inclusive, has successfully altered that age-long ideology. Consequently, some female doctors-cum-medical expects are showing the light for the younger generations.

The underlisted 12 female medical professionals are among the most impressive and innovative Nigeria can boast of.

Professor Comfort Nne Akujobi

Professor Comfort Akujobi is a Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, and an Honorary Consultant Clinical Microbiologist with the teaching hospital. She is currently on Sabbatical at King David University of Medical Sciences Uburu, Ebonyi state.

Professor Akujobi studied Medicine and Surgery at the University of Calabar. She graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBCh) in 1990. After her NYSC, she worked in a County Hospital, Ogba, Lagos, for four and half years before joining the Residency programme at LUTH in January, 1998. She also enrolled and completed a Master’s degree (M.Sc) in Medical Microbiology, same year. She completed the residency programme and became a Fellow of the National Postgraduate College of Nigeria Faculty of Pathology (FMCPath).

Prof Akujobi has about 48 journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, and contributions in chapters of books as well as several conference presentations, locally and internationally. She has served as an examiner in pathology in several colleges of medicine across the country.

At the post graduate level, she is an examiner for National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), a board member of the Faculty of Pathology, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. She is also an assessor of Part II dissertations in the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Faculty of Pathology (Medical Microbiology/Parasitology).

Prof. Akujobi is currently the Foundation Provost, King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, Ebonyi State. She is married and has three children.

Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu,

the First Lady of Kebbi State, is a Consultant Paediatrician and an advocate for women’s health, with a particular focus on cancer.

Doctor Shinkafi Bagudu attended Queens College yaba, Lagos, She is also the daughter of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, who was the head of the Nigerian Security Organisation during former President Shehu Shagari’s administration in the 1980s. She is the eldest of 5 children, she was born to Umaru and Rakiya Shinkafi. Her primary and secondary education were in Lagos

After graduating from Queens College Lagos in 1984, her good grades in Mathematics led her to dream a career in Accountancy but then the Vice Chancellor of Barewa College, Zaria, told her she had the requirements to study medicine, and there were few medical doctors in Northern Nigeria, so she changed her mind and studied Medicine.

Dr Zainab Bagudu obtained an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine) from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. She then proceeded to the United Kingdom for specialist training in Peadiatrics and Neonatology which lasted nine years. Amongst others, she obtained a Masters in Paediatrics, Diploma in tropical child health and membership of the Royal college of Paediatrics and Child health.

Upon completion of her training she returned to Nigeria in 2002 to set up and head the Paediatric Unit of Garki Hospital under a new PPP scheme with the FCT. In 2009, she set up a trail blazing diagnostic centre, Medicaid. Medicaid was set up to rectify the paucity of scarce diagnostic tools in the region. The centre provides MRI, CT scan, Endoscopy, mammogram, Echocardiology, Digital Fluoroscopy etc.

In the course of looking after children, their mothers started confronting her with their medical issues and requests for assistance particularly around Breast and cervical cancer.

This eventually inspired her to start her own NGO, the Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF). MCF creates awareness on health matters, trains health workers, and funds the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in Nigeria. Over the last four years, the foundation has raised over 100 million naira for the treatment and support of cancer patients.

As First Lady of Kebbi State, Dr. Bagudu is a passionate and active advocate for women, children and youth in Nigeria.

Dr. Chito Nwana

Dr. Chito Nwana is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and the medical director/CEO of Tabitha Medical Centre in Abuja. She is American Board-Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is duly registered by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council. She completed her residency training at University of Connecticut School of Medicine, USA. She has vast experience practising in parts of the United States as well as considerable exposure to the peculiarities of Nigerian public and private sector medical practice.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from McMaster University, in Canada, she has excellent interpersonal and communication skills, which invariably make patients more receptive and with reduced anxiety levels. She is also a result-oriented professional with a passion to extend medical services to the less-privileged. To this end she has coordinated several rural medical missions.

She is a member of several professional organisations including American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Association of Gynecology Laparoscopists and is the present chairperson of the Guild of Medical Directors, Abuja.

Dr Abimbola Ayodeji Abolarinwa

Dr Abimbola Abolarinwa studied medicine at the prestigious University of Ibadan, Oyo State, graduating in 2004. She worked as a medical officer at the Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Kaduna, and the Baptist Medical Centre, Obanikoro, Lagos.

In 2008, she got employed by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital for her residency training in Surgery and Urology, and completed it in record time. On 25th October 2013, she became a certified Urologic Surgeon after she passed the West African College of Surgeons Fellowship Examination, making her the first woman in Nigeria to attain this status in a previously male-only surgical specialty. Since this feat in 2013, she has encouraged other women to venture into Urology training programmes. There are currently five female urologists in Nigeria and two others currently in training. She is still actively searching for more to join her nationwide.

She has special interests in Andrology and Pediatric Urology. She also strongly desires to further develop medical education in Nigeria. In pursuit of her desire to be a seasoned medical educationist, she bagged a distinction in a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos in 2019. At all levels of her career and training, she leaves great testimonies of her clinical expertise and admirable human relations which many, including patients and their relatives, staff, colleagues and medical students, can testify to. She is equally passionate about her patients’ welfare and also loves to teach, train and mentor her medical students and resident doctors.

She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery, College of Medicine of the Lagos State University and a Honourary Consultant Urologist with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja. She is a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons

Dr Edith Osawemwenze Kayode-Iyasere

Dr Edith Kayode-Iyasere is the chairperson of the Augustine Bonaventure Omorogbe-Elizabeth Ekhator Amu Stroke Awareness Foundation. (ABO-EEASAF) and a Consultant Physician/Neurologist at Central Hospital, Benin City. Presently she occupies the position of the Chief Consultant/Board Director of Clinical Services, Hospital Management, Board Benin, which is the apex of her medical career.

A fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Dr Kayode-Iyasere has written numerous scientific publications in national and international professional journals. Her area of specialisation is stroke.

She was a board member of Faith Mediplex Benin, 2004-2008, 2016- 2018, as well as the regional representative of the pan Africa Association of Neurological Sciences between 2009- 2011.

Edith has been a strong advocate on health issues. She is one woman who has done so much for her immediate community and the society in general. Many people in Benin City and Edo state have not forgotten her numerous social developmental programmes. She has used her leadership positions to promote projects and health issues.

As president of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, Edo State (2009 -2011), she raised awareness on the activities of the group through sponsorship of many programmes in radio and television channels.

As medical director of Central Hospital Benin (2013- 2015) she can be said to be one of those who has raised the bar in hospital administration in Nigeria. During her tenure she changed the narrative and the hospital became cleaner and more efficient, while the workers became better motivated and primed for service delivery.

Dr. Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu-Ibrahim

Dr. Salamat Aliu-Ibrahim studied Medicine and Surgery at the University of Ilorin. She graduated with honours in 2004 receiving several awards at graduation amongst which were the Best Student in First Professional MBBS Examination, Best All Round Female Graduating Student, Second Overall Best Graduating Student, Best Graduating Student in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Community Based Experience and Services. She also obtained a distinction in Pathology.

She began her post graduate medical training/surgical residency training in September 2006 at the National Hospital Abuja. In 2009, after passing the Part I exam of both the National Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS), she proceeded to Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital to begin her Neurosurgery residency training. She thereafter returned to National Hospital Abuja in 2011 where she completed her Neurosurgery residency training.

She passed the Part II fellowship examination in Neurosurgery of the WACS in April 2014 thereby becoming Nigeria’s first female neurosurgeon and the first female fellow of the WACS in Neurosurgery.

She underwent a one-year subspecialty training in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School between 2018 and 2019. She is currently a Consultant Neurosurgeon at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.

Professor Adebola Olufunmilayo Ogunbiyi

Professor Adebola Ogunbiyi is a professor of medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and Consultant Dermatologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. She attended the University of Lagos staff school and later Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, Lagos, for both her ordinary and advanced level studies. She studied Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, and was awarded the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in 1983. Her residency training in Internal Medicine was at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital during which she was awarded a certificate for the best resident in Internal medicine in 1989. Her postgraduate diploma training in dermatology was at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology in the UK affiliated with the University of London.

She is a fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, West African College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh. She is also a fellow of the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria, Nigerian Academy of Science, and an international fellow of the American Association of Dermatology.

Professor Ogunbiyi has several publications in both local and international journals as well as book chapters.

She is an active member of many learned societies. She is a past president of the Nigerian Association of Dermatology, past vice-president of the African Society of Dermato-venereology, immediate past associate director for Africa for the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS). She is presently one of the vice presidents on the board of the International Society of Dermatology (ISD) and an international member on the Board of the American Association of Dermatology (AAD).

She is currently the head of the Department of Medicine at both the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

She has served as external examiner to various institutions within and outside Nigeria.

Prof. Omolade Augustina Awodu

Professor Omolade Awodu had her basic medical education in medicine and surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. She joined the residency training programme in 1993 and obtained the fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in Pathology (FMCPath) in 1998, specialising in Haematology and Blood Transfusion. She received the Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2020. She joined the University of Benin in 1999 as a lecturer and rose through the ranks to become a professor in 2011.

One of her cardinal objectives is to advance the practice of clinical and laboratory haematology with utmost professionalism in a patient-centred manner. Her clinical and research focus are to deepen the understanding of thrombotic disorders (blood clots) and bleeding disorders, thereby fostering their diagnosis and treatment as well as generating research interest in this field. Furtherance to her research interest in thrombosis and bleeding disorders, she had undergone several trainings both locally and internationally which are aimed at improving the diagnosis, treatment, and research in bleeding and thrombotic disorders to this end. She obtained a fellowship in the management of haemophilia (an inherited bleeding disorder) in Mumbai, India in 2016.

She has over 20 years’ experience as a lecturer and researcher. She has trained and mentored over 20 haematologists within and outside Nigeria. She is constantly updating herself in her chosen field through active participation in workshops, conferences, seminars, or webinars held locally or internationally.

She is the current vice president and the president-elect of Nigerian Society for Haematology and Blood Transfusion, one of the oldest medical professional associations in Nigeria.

Internationally, Professor Awodu is a member of the world’s largest organisation on thrombosis and bleeding disorders – the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH).

Prof. Adeola Fowotade

Prof. Adeola Fowotade received her education at the University of Ilorin Secondary School, Ilorin and University of Ilorin before receiving a PhD in Molecular Virology and Immunology from the University of Surrey, UK in 2017. She holds the fellowship of both the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and the West African College of Physicians.

She joined the faculty staff of the University of Ibadan and made history as the first Clinical Virologist with a MBBS and PhD degrees in Virology.

Adeola is a senior lecturer in the Clinical Virology unit of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Fowotade’s interest in Virology is centred on understanding how viruses escape the host immune system, and while conducting her doctoral research project at the University of Surrey, under the leadership of Professor David Blackbourn, she learnt how to make recombinant viruses for experimentation in humanised mice. In 2017, she participated in the UK Primerdesign Student sponsorship for doctoral students and was one of the 10 winners from various universities that participated in the UK.

In response to the urgent need for molecular diagnostic support for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria, Adeola was involved in the pioneer effort to set up a Biosafety level 2 Molecular Virology Laboratory. The Biorepository and Clinical Virology Laboratory (BCVL) came into existence in April 2020 and she was appointed the pioneer coordinator of the Laboratory. Partnering with the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, she has been able to get the laboratory accredited by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and also enrolled for external quality assurance with WHO-accrediting organisations. Till date the laboratory has tested and archived over 39,000 COVID-19 samples.

Fowotade worked as a volunteer laboratory pillar lead for the Oyo State COVID-19 Emergency Operation Centre and was responsible for organising and training a team of laboratory personnel on sample collection from COVID-19 patients, production of viral transport media (VTM) for transport of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens as well as providing weekly report of activities to the EOC and the Oyo State Taskforce on COVID-19. As a clinical virologist, Adeola has also been involved in offering clinical care at the Oyo State Isolation Centre, Olodo, Oyo State.

Dr Aisha Kuliya-Gwarzo

Dr Aisha Kuliya-Gwarzo graduated from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, with an MBBS in 1990. In 2009, she received her master’s degree on Transfusion and Transplant from the University of Bristol and Fellow Medical College Haematology from Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2002.

The Kano State-born professor of Haematology is the Dean, Faculty of Clinical Science at Bayero University, Kano. She is also a consultant Haematologist at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

She is a dedicated and enthusiastic medical practitioner and a determined personality who has participated in training many medical students and resident haematology doctors in Nigeria.

She is a member of various national and international professional bodies, She has published several peer-reviewed articles in local, national and international journals and continues to partake in research especially on blood transfusion and haemoglobinopathies. She is an associate editor of the Nigerian Journal of haematology and the International Journal of Haemostasis and Thrombosis as well as a peer reviewer of some medical journals.

She has several awards of excellence for outstanding leadership and community service. She is a mother of four and enjoys reading and travelling.

Maj. Gen Abimbola Olatilewa Amusu

Major General Abimbola Olatilewa Amusu (nee Isaacs) is a pathologist who specialises in Haematology and Blood Transfusion.