Public Health champion from Nigeria shortlisted for British Council Alumni Awards

  • Date

    Thu 12 Apr 18


An Essex graduate from Nigeria has been chosen as a Regional Finalist for Africa in this year’s British Council Alumni Awards for her work supporting public health campaigns against Ebola and AIDS


Ugonnaya Igwilo has worked as a medical expert for Ebola Virus disease awareness campaigns and currently provides technical expertise to the Disease Control Unit at the Lagos Ministry of Health.

Ugonnaya, who completed a Masters in Public Health in 2013 said her studies at Essex helped her develop all the skills vital to work in high pressure situations.

She said: “The unique practical learning experience from Essex tweaked my way of thinking, addressing challenges and improved my communication skills.”

After graduating, Ugonnaya became a Volunteer Medical Officer and provided care to over 500 patients living with AIDS. As well as delivering clinical care to patients, Ugonnaya provided emotional support through counselling to patients and families affected by the virus and administered Anti-Retroviral Therapy to pregnant women and newborns living with HIV/AIDs.

During her time as a student at Essex, Ugonnaya served as the student representative for her class, joined the United Nations Model Society and the Human Rights Society.
She said: “Being a member of the Human Rights Society at Essex built on my knowledge base and changed my perception of my role as a public health physician.

“This was a guiding principle for my volunteerism, community outreach planning and implementation and my health service delivery.”

In 2014, Ugonnaya worked at the Emergency Operations Center during the Ebola outbreak and served as a screening medical officer at the Lagos International Airport. Ugonnaya screened over 5,000 passengers and supervised a collection of real-time data which helped improve public health information about the virus though an awareness campaign. The campaign successfully reached over 21 million Lagos residents and subsequently helped curb the outbreak.

Ugonnaya has also supervised the tracking of HIV patients who have stopped receiving treatment and identified the reasons why they left to encourage them back into care.
She has also taught over 5,000 medical students and community health officers in Lagos and has recently worked with the state’s Ministry of Health to provide technical support and expertise in the prevention of the Monkey Pox outbreak.

Ugonnaya is currently undergoing a six-year residency training program at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria as a Senior Registrar and works in a clinic providing maternal and child health services to over 10,000 patients a year.

Thanks to the work of Ugonnaya and her colleagues, a greater awareness and understanding of disease outbreak could soon change the perception and treatment of life-threatening illnesses.

The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. Now in its fourth year, more than 1,700 entries from 125 countries representing 140 UK higher education institutes were received for this year's awards.

Regional Award Winners will be announced on 19 April. Winners will then go on to compete for the prestigious Global Alumni Awards which will be announced at the end of April.

Please visit the British Council Alumni Award website to read more about this year's inspirational finalists.