A new report by the CABLE News have revealed how the late former NAFDAC DG, Dora Akunyili died as a result of misdiagnosis of cancer.
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.
Meanwhile, 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 Akunyili soon went viral on the internet.
TheCable 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).
Akunyili died on June 7, 2014 in India after surviving many death rumours.