Imagine receiving an unexpected call one fine day on your private telephone with an unusual caller’s ID – “private number”.
The caller at the other end of the line announces that he is calling from the UK Cabinet office. Would you dismiss it thinking it is a sham, a 419 as we normally would refer to those pranks?
Better still, if the caller goes further to call out your full name and home address and tells you that a letter has been sent to your postal address and that you are on the Queen of England’s New Year Honours List for 2013. Will you jump for joy, shed a tear of joy or continue to dismiss it? Well, Dr Nellie Annan-Adjaye, a Ghanaian born British has been overwhelmed with joy having received a call announcing that pleasant surprise to her
On 29th December 2012, the UK Cabinet office officially made a media announcement on the Queen’s New Year Honours List for 2013. The annual List is in recognition of the achievements and service of extraordinary people who have done extraordinary things right across the UK. One of the honourees in 2013 is a Ghanaian-British female paediatrician, Dr Nellie Annan-Adjaye who has practiced in the UK over the past 40 years.
How did she get on the Honours List and how did she receive the news of her most impressive achievement? In a chat with her last week, Dr Annan-Adjaye, a trained Medical Officer who has been practicing medicine in the UK for over four decades told me that she has spent three quarters of that time in paediatrics and child health.
In Ghana on a short holiday with her engineer husband Robert Adjaye, she received a telephone call on her private number last December from the Cabinet Office in London. The caller asked if she had received a letter informing her that she is on the Queen’s Honours List and that she is to be awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). The office needed a response from her before the official release of the List on 29th December 2012. That letter was apparently posted to her UK address at a time she was in Ghana for a family holiday.
Almost immediately, a scanned copy of the letter was e-mailed to her the same day. She told me she could not believe it when she opened her in-box to read a copy of the letter. She screamed with joy and quickly shared the news with her husband and then proceeded to respond with her acceptance note.
As to how she got on the Honours List, Dr Annan-Adjaye first took me through what she has done or is doing. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, UK, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. She holds an MSC in Community Health in Developing countries. In the last 20 years, she has specialised in Developmental Paediatrics (children with special needs and child protection issues). She has also worked for 24 years as a Consultant Paediatrician in Maidstone, Kent in the UK until 2011 when she took her retirement.
She believes however that the award of the MBE is not only for the consistent service development she has given to child health in Maidstone but most important her serving on a UK government inquiry which has come to be known as the Lord Laming Inquiry, named after Lord Laming, the Chairman of an independent public inquiry which was set up to look into the untimely death from child abuse of an 8 year old girl, Victoria Climbie, an Ivorian who came to live in London as a ward of her great aunt.
There seems to be a perfect truth in the general belief that in whatever field one finds oneself, one should work with dedication and perfect execution as if one was working for God. The case of Dr Nellie Annan-Adjaye is a perfect example of such a belief. Someone must have watched and admired her dedication and professional zeal from afar as she was nominated by the Royal College of Paediatrics to serve as the expert medical adviser to Lord Laming during the public inquiry.
For eighteen months, together with other experts in the fields of social work, the police and nursing, they looked at why the child died when she was known to all the child protection agencies backed by the UK laws on child protection. The report, at the end of the inquiry and the recommendations made by the Committee apparently informed the UK government on the review of the country’s National Child Care Services of the 2004 Children’s Act. Elated Dr Annan-Adjaye feels it is a great honour to be recognised for her contribution to child care and protection in the UK.
During a two hour chat with her, Dr Annan-Adjaye came across as a true professional who is forever ready to put her skills at the disposal of and contribute to health care issues in both the UK and Ghana in appreciation of the contribution both countries have made in shaping her young and adult life.
As a little girl, she started schooling at the Osu Girls Primary School in Accra and then continued at the Mmofraturo Girls Boarding School in Kumasi from where she entered Wesley Girls High School, Cape Coast for her O’ and A’ Levels. She continued on to the UK and studied at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School in London.
She has worked in various hospitals across the UK including the famous Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. Through hard work, she was appointed a Consultant Paediatrician in Maidstone, Kent, having worked as a lecturer in community paediatrics at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London.
Even though she lives in the UK with her husband and son, whenever the family visit Ghana (which they try to do every year), she tries to find out where her expertise can be used. When I met up with her at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital last week, she had just finished a meeting on the fast evolving issue of child abuse and neglect in Ghana. So what were her impressions about our premier hospital, now and then? I tried to get some answers from her.
Though she did not train at the University of Ghana Medical School, she recounted some fond memories of the Teaching Hospital when she came over for a six week medical elective in the 1970s at Korle-Bu. Those, she said, were the days when Kole-Bu was indeed a premier hospital and could boast of first class dedicated surgeons like Dr Nkrumah, Dr Boahene, Dr Konotey-Ahulu, Professor Dodoo, Professor Ofosu-Amaah and Professor Korsah, to mention but a few. She asked a rhetorical question, where have those years gone?
Today, she finds Korle-Bu hospital too busy and more like a town rather than a hospital. In addition, the state of the wards are shocking as if we have gone poorer all of a sudden with broken stair cases dotted all over, patients sleeping on the floor to deliver their babies, no bed sheets in the wards and medical students all over the place. As for the gardens and the lawns, we do not need to talk about them.
However, she sees some great potential in the hospital with lots of expertise to offer seeing the impressive Cardio Centre we now have. She thinks the hospital certainly needs a lot more of streamlining and a crisper grip on issues that could turn the fortunes of the hospital around.
Dr Nellie Annan-Adjaye is very much looking forward to going to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE conferred on her by Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. With this great honour, she is even more charged to continue to support the several children’s charities she is already associated with both in the UK and in Ghana.
She looks forward to engaging her colleagues in paediatric medicine and also the police, social care, teachers and law reformers to raise greater awareness in child abuse issues in Ghana. She is of the hope that together, they can develop a cohesive method of dealing with and preventing the nuisance, because as she puts it, “child abuse is a major destructive element in the society and it adversely affects the lives of children in Ghana.
We take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Nellie Annan-Adjaye, MBE on her achievement and wish her more laurels.