Student Nurse Agom Emmanuel Agom of the department of Nursing Science Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Abakaliki has won the Nursingworld Nigeria (NWN) sponsored Justina Ejelonu Memorial Scholarship award for the month of June, 2015. The event which took place on Friday 14th August, 2015 at the Faculty of Health Science and Technology, EBSU, coincided with the one year anniversary of the demise of the Nurse heroine. EBSU being the alma mater of the late rare gem saw encouraging turnout to the event by students, lecturers and members of Graduate Nurses Association of Nigeria (GNAN).
Notable among the attendees were the dean faculty of health science and technology, Professor O.C Edeogu, the former director of Nursing Services Ebonyi State,Mrs.Ugo Uduma, the Head of Department of Nursing Science EBSU, Dr Ndie E.C, and Mrs. Ekuma-Ojim Judith, the Chairperson GNAN, Ebonyi State chapter accompanied by the Secretary and Financial Secretary of GNAN, Ebony state. Others included Nurse G.I. Nshi, the National Secretary of GNAN, Nurse Okafor Obinna, former National President of Nigerian Universities Nursing Students Association (NUNSA), and Mrs. Ibeneme, a senior lecturer in the department of Nursing, EBSU.
Speaking at the presentation of the award to the winner, Nurse Goodluck Nshi who represented Nursingworld Nigeria eulogized late Justina Ejelonu for the selfless sacrifice she made for Nigeria in the fight against Ebola. He said Ejelonu nursed the index case, Patrick Sawyer and in the process of performing her professional duty of saving life paid the ultimate prize. He said Patrick Sawyer was the first person that brought Ebola to Nigeria but Nurse Ejelonu was the first Nigerian that died of ebola. Nigerians all know about Sawyer and his ill-fated sojourn to Nigeria but know nothing about the first Nigerian victim that died rendering healthcare services to Sawyer because the Government and the media had seemingly conspired to bury the history probably because she was a Nurse. If not for Nursingworld Nigeria, the history of Nurse Justina Ejelonu, the First Nigerian healthcare provider that paid the ultimate prize in the Ebola war would have been swept completely under the carpet. He chastised the media and the Nigerian Government for their bias and deliberate attempt at trying to re-write history.
According to Nshi, “Dr. Stella Adadevoh, a physician, who also paid the supreme prize along Nurse Ejelonu was given accolades and awards by the same Government, corporate bodies and the media that had maintained a loud silence about Ejelonu probably because she was a Nurse and not a physician. People, including the international community, now erroneously hold Adadevoh as the first Nigerian or the only member of the healthcare team that paid the ultimate prize after contact with the index case because of this seeming biased attitude of the Government and the fourth Estate of the realm. But the truth is that no matter how they try, they can never re-write or distort the history that Ejelonu was the first Nigerian victim among the healthcare team that nursed Sawyer. She was struck first because she was the team member that stayed closer and longer with Sawyer rendering comprehensive and holistic nursing care.
“Consequently, Adadevoh has not only bagged barrage of posthumous awards locally but also internationally but her team member that even paid the ultimate prize before her is hardly heard of if not for Nursingworld Nigeria. He lamented that even when GNAN rose from her national stakeholders meeting in Enugu by October last year and wrote officially to the National Assembly and Ministry of Health to recognize the sacrifice paid by Ejelonu, nothing was heard from them. He told the student audience that the alleged callous and disdain treatment meted out to Late Nurse Ejelonu by Nigerian Government and media is a tip of the ice-berg to what Nursing profession has been suffering in Nigeria. He bemoaned that despite playing a pivotal role in care delivery, Nursing is the only core healthcare profession whose University Graduates are deliberately and unjustifiably excluded from National University Commission(NUC) approved internship training and consequently placed on CONHESS 07 post-NYSC(National Youth Service corps) whereas others are placed on at least CONHESS 09 post-NYSC. Yet hardly would you see such aberration being criticized by the media or responded actively to by the Government because it is a thing of the Nursing profession.
Nshi added that “They say that Nurses are the most best kept secret in Nigeria" meaning that they have deliberately kept us in a secret box and have consistently attributed our giant strides to others. We must rise and join hands with nursing world Nigeria to say ‘enough is enough’ and begin to unearth ourselves wherever we have been buried as a secret”.
Professor O. C Edogu in his remark , shortly before presenting the award to the winner, commended Nursingworld Nigeria for honouring late Nurse Ejelonu who he extolled as a core professional Nurse that was not only a good ambassador to her alma mater, EBSU but also to her profession ,Nursing and Nigeria in general. He said the award which he described as ‘spectacular’ could make more headlines if rebranded as Justina Ejelonu’s memorial Award for best graduating students(JEMA BGS) to be presented at induction ceremonies of Nurses and Midwives in various schools and urged Nursing world to consider such.
Also speaking at the event Dr. Ndie E.C described late Tina (as she was fondly called in school) as intelligent, brave and courageous. It was all emotional as he recalled her school days activities. He recalled that Tina was a student activist, a member of NUNSA executive in EBSU, and a course rep. He said “ although we shall forever miss her, we have taken solace in the fact that in her brief eventful sojourn on earth she served mankind with all she have, including her life”. He expressed profound gratitude to Nursing world and urged that it should sustain the tempo.
Mrs. Ugo Uduma in her own remark said although ebola snatched her from our hands, it can never snatch her from our memories. She thanked Nursing world for all its efforts in keeping her memories alive and urged the students to always apply for the scholarship award on nursing world website every month.
In appreciation the winner, Student Nurse Emmanuel Agom, who was very excited to be honoured with the award expressed profound gratitude to nursing world Nigeria and urged other students to keep on applying for the award as some day may be their lucky day. On how he felt about winning the award, he said, “I am excited but thankful to God. I was not the only applicant for the month but God has decided that it is my turn today”. He encouraged his fellow students to keep on applying with faith as one day may be their turn.
Mrs. Ekuma-Ojim Judith, the GNAN chairperson Ebonyi State, in conclusion expressed happiness and was impressed by effort of nursing world, which according to her is an indication that Nurses had waken up. She prayed for the repose of the soul of Justina Ejelonu in God’s bosom. She equally prayed God to continue to bless Nursing world to be able to sustain and promote the legacy it had already started.
Report Sent in By Nurse G. I Nshi
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