NIGERIAN immunologist and the former the medical director and deputy chief executive of the Ealing Hospital NHS Trust in London Dr Alfa Sa’adu has become the most high profile UK diasporan to die from coronavirus after he passed away yesterday.
Dr Sa’adu, 68, was a highly respected member of the Nigerian community in the UK and back home in his native Kwara State, held the traditional title of the Galadima of Patigi. Since December 2015, Dr Sa’adu has been working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust as the associate medical director for the Medicine Healthcare Group and as a substantive consultant physician in the Care of the Elderly.
Born on August 31 1952 in Patigi, Kwara State, Dr Sa’adu arrived in London as an eight year old on October 6 1960. He enrolled at Manorside Primary School in North Finchley for a year and attended Preparatory School and then Grammar School in Shropshire as a boarding student between 1961 and 70.
He graduated from University College, London with a Bsc in Anatomy in 1973 and from the University College Hospital Medical School with MBBS in 1976. He passed the MRCP specialist examination when he was just a senior house officer at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in 1979.
Dr Sa’adu returned to Nigeria in 1979 and did his National Youth Service Corp for a year before teaching and training at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria. He then worked at Bida General Hospital and played a vital role in taking over from the foreign doctors leaving the country.
In 1984, Dr Sa’adu came back to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in and carried out a series of research studies leading to a diploma, a Masters degree in Clinical Tropical Medicine and a doctorate degree in Tropical and Infectious Diseases. Dr Sa’adu then trained as a MRC Research Senior Registrar in Clinical Immunology and Allergy at the Clinical Research Centre, Harrow from 1989 to 92.
After further training in Geriatric Medicine at University College Hospital, London between 1992 and 94, he was appointed a consultant physician in care of the Elderly Medicine at Watford General Hospital in 1994. His leadership role in the NHS started as acting clinical director of the Care of the Elderly and Intermediate Care Department at Watford in 2000.
His friend Christian Udechukwu, said: “This is such sad and terrible news indeed. I know Dr Alfa very well and he was quite a frequent guest of mine for almost 20years. He was a very fine gentleman and an exceptional professional and will be sorely missed.
“My prayers and thoughts are with his family at this time. May God comfort and strengthen them for the future. His wife is also a professional and partner with one of the world’s preeminent accounting and audit firms.”
Dr Sa’adu was promoted to become the divisional director of acute medical care, accident and emergency, medicine, care of the elderly and sexual health in 2002 at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust. He was appointed deputy medical director from 2004 to 2010 and served as a non-voting member of the trust board.
Dani, Dr Sa’adu’s son, said: “He was a very passionate man who cared about saving people. As soon you spoke to him about medicine his face would light up. He worked for the NHS for nearly 40 years in different hospitals across London.
“He loved to lecture people in the world of medicine, he did so in the UK and Africa. My dad retired and was working part time at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn, Hertfordshire until his passing.
“He was a massive family man and we did everything together, family came first. He left two sons and a wife, who is a retired doctor herself.”