Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu – Pride of Nigeria and Britain

By Esosa Aihie

72 year old British??born Nigerian??Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu DBE FRCN – a nurse, health expert, tutor, lecturer and Emeritus Professor of Nursing at University of West London, received the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain??Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable work to establish a nationwide healthcare for those with sickle cell and thalassemia, on 28th October 2019 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. 

This is on top of a record number of awards and accolades for her trailblazing nursing, academic & humanitarian work spanning over four decades in the UK??

Appointed: Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to nursing and the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal; Appointed a Life Patron of the Mary Seacole Trust in 2016; Appointed Dean of the School of Adult Nursing Studies and Emeritus Professor of Nursing at University of West London in 2007; 

Became a Trustee and subsequently Vice-Chairperson of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal in 2003; got her CBE in 2001; Appointed as Patron for the of the following charities:

  • Sickle Cell Society 
  • Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association UK
  • Vice President of Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association
  • Honorary Advisor to England’s Chief Nursing Officer’s Black & Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group. 

Awarded a Fellowship of the Queen’s Nursing Institute in October 2017; Awarded the 2015 Divas of Colour Lifetime Achievement Award; Awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing (FRCN) for developing the sickle cell and thalassemia counselling centre in 2004; 

Pioneered the opening of more than 30 UK centres using the Brent Centre model in 1979; published several written works related to her field of work and study in many journals; 

Inducted into the Nursing Times Nursing Hall of Fame for her dedication to the development of nurse-led services in 2010. 

Created the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice;  Created the 1st UK Sickle Cell and Thalassemia counselling centre in Brent in partnership with Consultant Haematologist Dr Milica Brozovic; Became the first UK sickle cell/thalassaemia nurse specialist. 

Studied counselling for sickle cell and Thalassemia centres as courses were unavailable in the UK; Taught at University College London a course for NHS staff based in communities with high levels of patients with sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs & Thalassemia diseases with the help of Professor Marcus Pembrey in 1990. 

Born Elizabeth Mary Furlong in Birmingham to an unmarried 20-year-old English middle-class mother of Irish descent named Mary Maureen Furlong, a 2nd year student of Classics at Cambridge University Newnham College and Nigerian??father Lawrence Odiatu Victor Anionwu, also a student of Cambridge, a barrister and former 

Nigerian Ambassador to Italy & the Vatican. Changed her surname from Furlong to Anionwu after establishing links with her father who influenced her career choice; Has a daughter – Azuka Oforka an actress. 

Published her memoirs “Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union; Wrote A Short History of Mary Seacole, in 2005; Co-Authored with Professor Atkin, The Politics of Sickle Cell and Thalassemia’; created the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice at the University of West London; Wrote & contributed to several journals:

  • 1977: “Self Help in Sickle Cell Anaemia”. World Medicine 12(25): 86–91.
  • 1978: “Sickle Cell Menace in the Blood”. Nursing Mirror; 147(3): 16–19.
  • 1981: (with A. Beattie) “Learning to cope with Sickle Cell Disease – A Parent’s Experience”. Nursing Times; 77(28): 1214–19.
  • 1982: “Sickle Cell Disease”. Health Visitor; 55: 336–341.
  • 1983: “Sickle Cell Disease: Screening & counseling in the antenatal and neonatal period”. Midwife, Health Visitor & Community Nurse; 19: 402–406 (Part 1, October).
  • 1984: (with M. Brozovic) “Sickle cell disease in Britain”. Journal of Clinical Pathology; 37: 1321–1326.
  • 1985: “Pain Perception in Sickle Cell Crisis”. In: A. Baughan (ed.), Pain in Sickle Cell Disease. Sickle Cell Society, 1985.
  • 1986: (with H. Jibril) Sickle Cell Disease – A guide for families. London: Collins.
  • 1988: (with N. Patel, G. Kanji, H. Renges, M. Brozovic) “Counseling for Prenatal Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease and Beta Thalassemia Major. A four year experience”. Journal of Medical Genetics; 25:769–72.
  • 1989: (with O. O. Akinyanju) “Training of counsellors on sickle cell disorders in Africa”. Lancet; 1: 653–654.
  • 1991: “Teaching Community Genetics”. Nursing; 4(42): 37–38.
  • 1992: “Sickle Cell Disorders in Schoolchildren”. Health Visitor; 65(4): 120–122.
  • 1993: “Genetics – A Philosophy of Perfection?” In: Beattie A., M. Gott, L. Jones & M. Sidell (eds), Reader in Health & Well Being. Macmillan/Open University Press, 1993: 76–83.
  • 1994: “Women and sickle cell disorders”. In: Wilson, M. (ed.), The Black Women’s Health Book, London: Virago Press, 1994, pp. 6174.
  • 1996: (with L. Laird, C. Dezateux) “Neonatal screening for sickle cell disorders: what about the carrier infants?” British Medical Journal, 313:407–411.
  • 1997: “Haemoglobinopathies”. Practice Nurse 25 April:13;374–379.
  • 1998: (with J. Chapple) “Health Needs Assessment: Genetic Services”. Chapter 12, in: S. Rawaf & V. Bahl (eds), Assessing health needs of people from minority ethnic groups.London: Royal College of Physicians, 1998, pp. 169–190.
  • 1999: “In the Shadow of the Lamp. The story of the Crimea’s Unsung Nursing Heroine”. Primary Nursing Care, November, pp. 21–22.
  • 2000: (with D. Sookhoo, J. Adams) “In the Melting Pot”. Nursing Times 96:29, pp. 40–41.
  • 2001: “Screening and Genetic Counseling in Sickle Cell Disease”. Archives of Ibadan Medicine, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 54–56.
  • 2002: “Leg ulcers and sickle cell disorders”. Nursing Times, Vol. 98, No. 25, pp. 56–57.
  • 2003: “It’s time for a statue of Mary Seacole”. Nursing Times 99(32): 17 (12 August).
  • 2004: “Nursing input is crucial to genetics policy”. Nursing Times 100 (25): 18. (22 June).
  • 2005: A short history of Mary Seacole: a resource for nurses and students. London: Royal College of Nursing.
  • 2006: (with E. Oteng-Ntim, C. Cottee, S. Bewley) “Sickle Cell Disease in Pregnancy”. Current Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 16: 353–360.
  • 2007: “Making my mark”. Nurse Researcher 14 (2): 84–86.
  • 2008: “Sickle cell disease: quality of care needs to improve within the NHS”. Diversity in Health and Social Care. 15 December, 5:237–9.
  • 2009: “Sickle Cell Disease in on the increase and nurses need to be aware”. Nursing & Midwifery Council News, Issue 28/May, p. 12.
  • 2012: “Mary Seacole: nursing care in many lands”. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, May, Vol. 6, No. 5.
  • 2013: “Scotching three myths about Mary Seacole”. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants. October, Vol. 7, No. 10.
  • 2014: (with A. Leary) “Modeling the Complex Activity of Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Specialist Nurses in England”. Clinical Nurse Specialist, September/October, Vol. 28, Issue 5, pp. 277–282.
  • 2014: (with C. Staring-Derks, J. Staring) “Mary Seacole: Global Nurse Extraordinaire”. Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Congrats to an incredible woman, brilliant professor, game changing Dame & a truly bright & shining star???

Author: nmmin

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