Lives of the fellows

Kwablah Awadzi

b.13 June 1939 d.6 March 2011
MB BS Lond(1964) DCMT FRCP(1984)

Justice Kwablah Awadzi (‘Kwablah’) was director of the Onchocerciasis Chemotherapy Research Centre (OCRC), Hohoe, Ghana. Born in Lagos, Nigeria he was of Ghanaian origin. His father, Julius Evans Kwashie Awadzi was a civil servant from Anloga and his mother, Agnes née Aglina, came from Srogboe. His uncle was a senior doctor in his home town and both his brother and cousin became medical practitioners. Educated at Achimota Secondary School in Accra, he studied medicine at Ibadan University and Ibadan Teaching Hospital, obtaining his MB BS as an external student of London University in 1964.

He did house jobs at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra from 1964 to 1965 and then became a medical officer at the same hospital, during which time he assisted at the first significant open heart operation in Ghana. Moving to Sekondi in 1968, he joined the staff of the Nkwata Hospital and was also the only medical officer at the Tarkwa Mines Hospital. The following year he was put in charge of the medical services at the so-called ‘European Hospital’ in Takoradi.

In 1970 he travelled to the UK for further training. On obtaining his MRCP and the DCMT he returned to Ghana and was a senior medical officer at the department of health for five years. During part of this time he was also a physician specialist at the Tamale Regional Hospital and remained on their staff until 1987. He also became director of the OCRC and, for a while, acting regional medical officer of health for the northern region. In addition to researching ochoceriasis, he worked on snake bites, doing a study with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on different venoms. Often spending his weekends meeting and advising the people in his adopted village, Tampion, he continued to work long after official retirement and remained director of the OCRC after 1987 when it was relocated to the Hohoe District Hospital.

He was on many important national and international committees such as the steering committee on filiarsis and various bodies concerned with ochoceriasis prevention and control. A member of the WHO advisory panel on parasitic diseases in 1995, he was chairman of the expert committee on the control of ochoceriasis the following year. He published over 80 scientific papers mainly on tropical diseases and their treatment. A fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, he was also fellow of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the West African College of Physicians. In 2008 he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Medical and Dental Council of Ghana.

Very active in the old boy’s society of his school, the Old Achimotan Association, he particularly kept in touch with the 1956 year group and was a convivial man and an entertaining host with a fondness for good food and wine. He loved reading, listening to music and enjoyed writing verses to various family members on their birthdays. While at university he had been a keen hockey player and was president of the Ibadan University hockey club from 1963 to 1964. His religion was very important to him and he often admonished young people that they should base their lives on what he called the ‘four H’s’ – ‘Honest, Humility, Hard work and lending a Helping hand’.

In 1965 he married Patricia Elizabeth Ann née Marbell whose father, William Tetty Marbell, was an education officer. She survived him, together with their three children.

RCP editor

[Memorial to Dr Kwablah Awadzi - accessed 6 August 2015; BMJ 2011 343 5631]

(Volume XII, page web)

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