PROFILE: Zacchaeus Ademuwagun, Nigeria’s first professor of health education

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Professor Zacchaeus Akingbade Ademuwagun is Nigeria’s first professor of health education.

Born on 17th February, 1934, he attended Methodist Primary School, Ode Aye town in Ondo State from where he proceeded to Wesley College, Ibadan between 1949 and 1952.

From 1957 to 1962, he attended the University College, Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan). Thereafter, he proceeded to Boston University, USA where he obtained his Master’s Degree (MA) in Science Education and Cultural Foundation of Education.

The don popularly called ZA would later get awarded his doctorate degree at the School of Public Health, Berkley, California in 1965.

Zacchaeus Ademuwagun, the academic

The Public Health Professor started off his teaching career at his alma mater, Wesley College, Ibadan. He also taught at Igbobi College and the Federal Advanced Teachers’ College, both in Lagos.

As the higher education level, he taught at the University of Lagos between 1966 and 1972. The rest of his teaching career were spent at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan from 1972 to 1990.

In 1977, Ademuwagun became the first Professor for Health Education in Africa.

In 1972, the Ode Aye born scholar served as the first Director at the African Regional Health Education Centre (ARHEC). ARHEC is a World Health Organisation (WHO) sponsored programme in collaboration with the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, UCH and the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria.

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By the time he retired in 1990, he was a Professor at the University of Ibadan (UI). The Federal Government of Nigeria thereafter appointed him as chief consultant on Primary Health for the federation. He continued to serve as an emeritus consultant to the WHO on health education matters across Africa until 2010.

With this vast experience, Ademuwagun is still regarded as a leading voice on health education in Africa with many of his works cited by academics and health professionals.

Beyond academics

On the political scene, the don served with the Ondo State Government. Between 1979 and 1983, he was a Special Adviser on Health Education and Welfare; and Chairman, Ondo State Health Management Board.

When the Ondo State University (University of Ado Ekiti) (now Ekiti State University) was established in 1981, Governor Adekunle Ajasin of old Ondo State appointed illustrious educationist as a member of a 17-member Consultative Committee to work on the university’s blueprint. He served as the Project Director of the team.

In 1983, he was a special guest of the United States Health Department, Human Resources Washington, DC and the State of Atlanta, Georgia to give a lecture on Public Health.

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The city of Atlanta bestowed upon him honorary citizenship of the State of Atlanta, Georgia in recognition of his outstanding work in Public Health Education globally.

ZA was a lover of sports and music. He taught himself how to play the organ and played it most of his active years. He was an ardent organist and choir member at the Chapel of Resurrection, University of Ibadan.

Professor Ademuwagun died on 16th January, 2011 in Houston, USA. He is survived by his wife, Olujoke (nee Popoola), and five children – Deji, Atinuke, Segun, Toyin and Seun.

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