21 Oct 2010

Professor John Idoko

John Idoko is Professor of Medicine, Head of Infectious Diseases Programme, and Director of the AIDS Prevention
Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) Programme at the University of Jos in Nigeria. He is also Chairman of the Nigerian Antiretroviral Committee. He has undertaken extensive clinical and research work in HIV/AIDS and published several papers on the management of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

What has been the greatest achievement of your career?
To have realised the dream of setting up the APIN centre where we do research and comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as provide care and support, including access to antiretrovirals, for more than 6000 patients.

What do you think is the greatest political danger to the
medical profession?
The lack of eff ective political leadership to fi ght diseases that threaten humanity, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and
tuberculosis.

Which event has had most eff ect on your work, and why?
An invitation by my teacher and mentor professor Hilton Whittle to study light and heavy chains in the immunology laboratory as an undergraduate in the 1970s. This fuelled my interest in infectious diseases and immunology.

Who is your favourite politician and why?
Bill Clinton. He has a remarkable ability to see issues from the point of view of those suff ering, and put this in a way that all understand.

What part of your work gives you the most pleasure?
Seeing people bounce back to life from a state of nearly kicking the bucket after a couple of weeks on antiretrovirals.

What part of your work gives you the least pleasure?
Balancing politics and science while working with policymakers.

If you have not entered your current profession, what would you have liked to do?
To have been a politician, because I now see the wonderful opportunities they have to change humanity positively.

What would be your advice to a newly qualifi ed doctor?
Discipline, dedication, and commitment to their chosen field in order to advance humanity.

How do you relax?
Watching football on television.

What alternative therapies have you tried? Did they work?
Boiling Neem tree leaves in water and using the extract to treat malaria. I thought then it worked!

What is your favourite country?
Nigeria. Despite all the apparent chaos, the country is making steady but slow progress.

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