The late former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili, will be buried on August 28, the family has announced even as U.S. doctors disclosed how she died of Misdiagnosis.
“Details about the funeral arrangements will be made available to the public in due course,” the late former minister’s husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, said in a statement issued today in Awka, Anambra State.
Akunyili thanked Nigerians for the great love they extended to Dora both in life and at death. He also expressed his family’s appreciation to President Goodluck Jonathan for the special valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held in honour of Dora.
Akunyili advised anyone who has a tribute or testimonial in honour of Dora to send it by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
He advised people who wish to make enquiries regarding Dora’s funeral to call any of the following numbers: 08181333222, 08103198444, or 08098020976.
Dora, a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), died on June 7, after a two-year battle with cancer.
Akunyili, who was a delegate to the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, would have turned 60 on July 14.
How Akunyili Died of Misdiagnosis
The Cable reports that Professor Akunyili’s death was caused by misdiagnosis she had way back in 1998. According to reports by the Cable, when Mrs Dora Nkem Akunyili was the Zonal Secretary (South-east) of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund in 1998, Nigerian doctors gave her what many of her family members considered to be a health scare.They said she had a growth and needed surgery.
Akunyili, then 44, decided to travel to the United States, first to get a second opinion and then undergo the prescribed surgery. The bill for the medical trip was $17,000, including $12,000 for the surgery. During pre-surgery check-up in the US, the doctors told her the Nigerian doctors had made a wrong diagnosis and that she did not need any surgery.
It was said to be a minor issue that medication would solve. She thanked the doctors and, to their surprise, said she was going to return the money meant for the surgery to PTF. That was strange. Nigerian government officials had devised a way of making sure such monies were not returned to the treasury.
The hospital informed the PTF, under the leadership of Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, about one honest Nigerian they had found. Buhari, himself a straightforward person, was very impressed. He wrote a letter to Akunyili commending her honesty.
Akunyili always went abroad for check-ups and she was always given an all-clear. She continued to look robust and energetic, and took up another government job as minister of information and communications. But on July 13, 2013, something strange happened to her. She was preparing to travel to the United States to receive an award.
The following day was her birthday. Her 59th, precisely. Then she fell ill. She was physically weak and having pains. She decided to go ahead with her trip and attend to her health in the United States. It was while she was there that new checks were carried out.
Alas, she had cancer. The original diagnosis in 1998 was right. But the diagnosis at the point of surgery was wrong. She became seriously ill and there were fears she could lose her life.
She was in the hospital for months and only returned to Nigeria this year when the doctors said she was improving. Her last public appearance was at the National Conference in Abuja, where she was a delegate. Pictures of a frail-looking Akumyili soon went viral on the internet.
The Cable could not ascertain the type of cancer, but there are several reports pinpointing cervical – and some claim it was ovarian. Globally, cervical cancer is the second most common and the fifth deadliest cancer in women, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).