The Diasporan Perspective
By Ekerete Udoh
He is another example of the ever growing number of Nigerian Diaspora who has used their expertise and skills to improve the human condition in their adapted countries. He represents the best of the Nigerian spirit-inquiring, studious, reflective and eternally desiring to break new frontiers. All over the world, their ingenuity – in medical sciences, technological wizardry, the media and other facets of the human experience have been acknowledged and celebrated.
Dr. Justice E. Obi- originally from Anambra State and a New York City resident earned a bachelor degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University and a medical degree from Juarez Medical School-Mexico has come up with drugs that cure genital warts. The drugs-Dekilo HP and Dekilo HM are in the final stages of approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)
Genital warts according to definition by the Center for Disease control (CDC) are growth found in and around the vagina, penis, vulva, cervix and rectum areas that are caused by sexually transmitted human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The disease which affects approximately half a million people in the United States every year, is very common in Europe, North and South American continents and Australia. It however, is less common in Central and West African countries, except in South Africa where the infection is highly prevalent. No known method for cure, prevention and treatment of this disease has been found yet-until Dr. Obi’s invention- a development he seems to relish intently.” I thank God for using me as a scientific instrument to bring lasting succor and cure to a disease that has caused so many people psychological and emotional stress- a disease that is socially debilitating and mentally devastating. When I see the happiness on the faces of people who agreed to experiment the drug-the joy of knowing that finally, they can resume and live a happy and fulfilled lives and not being socially isolated, it brings tears to my eyes.”
The inspiration for the discovery of the ingredients that has led to the cure m of genital warts like that associated with another drug-Viagra was serendipitous at best. According to Dr. Obi, “I had a personal experience with something that was totally unrelated to genital warts and I was using a particular medication to treat it-all to no avail. I was very unhappy and one day, given my medical and pharmacy background, I decided to try another approach, and this was just a flash of inspiration. With the mixture I had just done, I was shocked to realize that when I applied it, the growth that was on my skin for years was gone in two days. I couldn’t believe it. Was I dreaming? I had asked mysef? How could something I had battled to cure for years just got cured in less than two days form a mixture I had just done-which I didn’t think could bring any medical succor to the problem? I was over the moon with excitement. This was in 1986 at Graceland Medical Group- a medical facility that I am a co-founder, which is located in Lagos. I was in Lagos at that time.”
Dr. Obi said when he came back to the United States, he didn’t follow-up on the invention until 2011 when he saw many patients with various forms of warts and he asked if they would like to try a drug that he believed could cure the disease. “Most agreed to try the medication and I was excited when they came back two days later to exclaim their warts were gone. Words soon spread and soon a lot of people started showing up to demand for the drug, and I offered it to them free of charge. So far, everyone who has visited my pharmacy has been cured of genital warts and with this realization, I decided to make moves to introduce the drug to the world. I contacted a company that assists people with their inventions-InventHelp and they helped put together all the necessary paper work to get the drug introduced to the market. As this point, the product is in the process of being approved by the FDA and a number of drug companies have shown interest in partnering with us. It is a great feeling and I can’t just contain myself with the realization that finally people with this problem will heave a sigh of relief.”
Dr. Obi who has lived in American for close to 40 years has an interesting personal story as well. He was a witness to the series of events that signaled the end of the Biafran War. “I was one of the bodyguards to the Biafran Chief of Navy-Commodore Anuku and I narrowly missed the aircraft that took General Ojukwu out of Biafra for the last time as the Head of State and Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces. But there was another aircraft that came to drop some relief materials at Uga Airport, and it was that one that I, along with other top brass of the Biafran Armed forces-including Anuku and the Chief of Air Force boarded to make our escape. It was a very surreal experience. The pilot had to turn off the light upon take off and flew the plane without light on, until we left the airspace that was controlled by the Nigerian side.
We landed in Sao Tome and Principe from where we were taken to Gabon. From Gabon, we were quarantined for days until the Gabonese government felt we were ready to mix with the civilian population. There were hundreds of thousands of Biafran children that had been taken there by the World Council of Churches and they were in various stages of malnutrition- with dis-extended stomachs (Kwashiorkor) and other ailments. I got a job as a security officer at the camp. My main assignment was to ensure that the kids were fed six times a day and that there was order and discipline in the camp. It was from there that I came to the United States on a student visa and as they say, the rest is history.’
Dr. Obi advised the Nigerian political leaders to ensure that they maintain the peace and harmonious relationship with all the component units “I have been reading some of the divisive rhetoric that has been coming from certain quarters. Some have been beating the drum of separation. Well, let me advise those who are advocating that approach that separations don’t usually happen peacefully. Even though some have happened in that manner-like the recent South Sudan most, usually involve wars. Some of us who saw the horror of war as young men should never dream of seeing a similar theater of destruction again in our lifetime. In spite of what our differences are, we should endeavor to live in peace and resolve our issues amicably.”
Source : Thisday