Professor Uche Amazigo


Dr Uche Amazigo, nee Onubogu is a public health specialist; an administrator and a visionary leader. She has made valuable contributions in health policy development, research, public-private partnership and sustainable community-driven health interventions. She is one of the first female Africans to head a UN agency.

She holds a PhD from the University of Vienna (Austria), DTM&P from Bernhard-Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine (Germany), and was a Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health (USA). While teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka her pioneering and ground-breaking research on river blindness (onchocerciasis) in rural Nigeria revealed for the first time startling results about the social isolation, suffering and disability caused by the disfigurement and unrelenting itching from the disease. This pioneering discovery changed international perceptions of morbidity due to river blindness in the world of public health and medicine. Dr Amazigo’s research contributed to the science for launching the World Health Organization African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (WHO/APOC) in 1995 - expanding control efforts to additional 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Amazigo joined World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996 and was Director of WHO/APOC from 2005-2011. During this period she engaged 16 African governments, 14 international NGDOs, 20 bilateral and multi-lateral donors and a pharmaceutical company to support 146,000 communities including those in post-conflict environment, in the control of river blindness in Africa. The highly-successful operations of WHO/APOC are based almost entirely on her relentless promotion and scaling up of the innovative Community-Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTi). This strategy empowers rural communities to take an active and decisive part in the control/elimination of river blindness in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2007, with her visionary leadership skills, she initiated and spearheaded the introduction of a curriculum and training module on community-directed interventions (CDI) in faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences in more than 14 Universities in Africa. Dr Amazigo also initiated the scientific evaluations, providing evidence of possible elimination of River blindness in some sites in APOC countries including Kaduna and Ebonyi States, Nigeria, and spearheaded the repositioning of WHO/APOC from a control to an elimination Programme. She has over 55 publications in international peer-reviewed journals.

Dr Amazigo is a member of the Board of Trustees of Sightsavers, The TY Danjuma Foundation; Advisory Board of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Global Health and Merck’s Global Advisory Board on Maternal Mortality. She is a recipient of several Awards including USAID/NTD, National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania, Dr Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award Tufts University, USA. She is honorary member of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and a Knight of the Republic of Burkina Faso. Dr. Amazigo retired as Director of the World Health Organization African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC/APOC) in 2011.

In 2013, she received honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and won the highly competitive and prestigious Prince Mahidol Award 2012 in Public Health.