December 23, 2015
Dr. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole
It is a fact that true security is based on people’s welfare – on a thriving economy, on strong public health and education programmes, and on fundamental respect for our common humanity. In my opinion, pioneering spirits strive to improve the quality of life and well-being. For he who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything. This passion was demonstrated by one of the pioneers of Kings college Lagos, and indeed the first senior prefect of the school, a hero of the nineteenth century, the first African Medical Officer of health, the father of Public health in Nigeria – Dr. lsaac Ladipo Oluwole.
He was born around 1892 into the family of the Anglican bishop of Western Equatorial Africa. He was the first among three students to obtain a bachelor degree from the premier West African College Fourah Bay, and, a doctor of divinity degree from the University of Durham. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole and James Churchill Vaughan were both among the pioneer students at King’s College Lagos, when it opened in September 1909 and was Isaac Oluwole was the first Senior Prefect of the School. He went to Glasgow in 1913 to study Medicine. After graduating MB, ChB in 1918 he returned to Nigeria as the first African Medical Officer of Health in the Lagos colony. After a few years of general practice in Abeokuta, he returned to Glasgow for his Diploma in Public Health [DPH].
He founded the first Nigerian School of Hygiene in 1920, where qualified persons from all over Nigeria trained as sanitary inspectors and obtained the Diploma of the Royal Institute of Health [RIH] London, which was later, changed to Royal Society of Health [RSH] diploma, London. In 1925, Dr. Isaac Oladipo Oluwole was appointed the first African assistant Medical Officer of Health in Lagos.
Environmental health is as old as man, though it changes name from time to time, it has been with us time immemorial. Environmental health is the control of all factors that may have direct or indirect effects on the physical, social and mental wellbeing of man and his society. As such, its importance cannot be overemphasized; it deals with many things that affect man’s life in one way or the other from environmental and food hygiene to building, water sanitation technology and waste treatment disposal to healthful housing and control of disease[s] vectors and others.
Dr. Isaac Oladipo Oluwole pioneered and founded the first School of Hygiene in Nigeria, in 1920. The first problem that faced the modern day Nigerian sanitary inspectors as early as the 1920 was the outbreak of bubonic plague in 1924 [Bubonic plague is a disease, circulating mainly in fleas on small rodents, and is one of three types of bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis that belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae]. Dr Oluwole was actively involved in the control of the plague epidemic. He revamped port health duties and made sanitary inspection a vital instrument for the control of communicable diseases using entirely Nigerian sanitary inspectors.
He pioneered with vigor, school health services using the then sanitary attendants, including inspection of schools and vaccination of schoolchildren in their school. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole was appointed Medical Officer of Health in 1936, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1940.
Amongst his other achievements, Oluwole opened the Massey Street Dispensary, reclaimed swampy islands to aid in malaria control and built a new abattoir to improve food hygiene. When he died in 1953 he was recognized as the father of public health in Nigeria.
Dr. Isaac Oluwole Ladipo’s passion and work has him sealed as a hero of all time. He is immortalized for pioneering and propagating the Nigerian public health sector.