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When we have to write about the first female doctors or the first female Lawyers. It is disappointing to know that year’s before these women came to do these jobs women weren’t allowed to do jobs that affected their lives so significantly. This lack of female doctors in the past can still be felt in the present. Certain aspects of women’s health are neglected because the medical field was dominated by men. This is the story of Northern Nigeria’s first female doctor,
Dr. (Mrs) Mary Dija Ogebe MBBS was born on January 21, 1944, in Shere in the present-day Plateau State. She started her primary education in 1952 in Shere and Fobur, Plateau State. She completed her primary school in 1958 in Bununu Dass, Bauchi State.
On completion of her primary education, she proceeded to Girls High School, Gindiri in Plateau State from 1959 to 1963, where she obtained a West African School Certificate, with a resounding Division one. She thereafter enrolled at the famous Queens College, Lagos from 1964 to 1965 for her Higher School Certificate (HSC). She was among the best graduating students. She later gained admission into the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG), College of Medicine where she obtained an MBBS in 1971.
She went for a postgraduate course in Anaesthetic in the United Kingdom from January 1974 to August 1974, where a certificate in course of instructions in Anaesthesia was awarded to her by the British Technical Assistance Programme.
Anaesthesia is one of the greatest discoveries of modern Medicine. In fact, in practical terms of surgery, many of today’s operations, especially for the very neonate, very old or very ill would not be possible without an Anaesthetic. For her quest and passion for knowledge, Dr. Ogebe gained admission to the University of Ibadan in October 1974 and graduated in 1975 with a Diploma in Anaesthesia.
No doubt, Dr. Ogebe has inspired many women to study medicine and made appreciable landmarks in the field of Medicine.
She has eloquent testimony in family Medicine and Anaesthetics. After graduation from Medical school, she started her Housmanship in Jos General Hospital from 1971 to 1972. As a House Officer, she had a harmonious relationship with the senior doctors, colleagues, nurses and other staff.
Between 1972 and 1981, she was a Registrar/Senior Reg. Anaesthetists in Jos and Makurdi General Hospitals respectively. Dr. Ogebe became the Chief Consultant Anaesthetist in General Hospital, Makurdi in 1983. Also, in Makurdi General Hospital, she was a medical superintendent.
Before her retirement from civil service in March 1991, she was a Chief Executive Secretary, Health Service Management Board, Benue State.
Dr. Ogebe held several appointments. Among such notable appointments were; State Executive Secretary/State Manager of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), Benue State from 1991 to 1992. Also, between May 1992 and October 1995, she was a General Practitioner/Anaesthetist at Benoni Hospital Ltd. in Benin City, Edo State.
Dr. Ogebe was also a visiting consultant Anaesthetist to Kaduna State General hospital, NNPC Industrial Hospital between January 1996 and June 1999. Dr. Ogebe has conducted training for over five sets of nursing practitioners in the theory and practice of Anaesthesia in Benue State between 1978 and 1986.
Dr Ogebe considers the usage of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) for the replacement of lost electrolytes very important. It was on this premise that she conducted a survey on the knowledge and practice of family planning methods and Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) useful for modern society. She belongs to the school of thought that says “Traveling is part of education” Dr. Ogebe travelled to all nooks and crannies of the globe during her vocational assignment and Christian activities in search of knowledge. For her passion and service to humanity especially women, she received the 1990 National Council of Women Society (NCWS) award in recognition of her contributions towards the advancement of Nigerian Womanhood from Mrs Maryam Babangida the late wife of former Head of State Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
Dr. (Mrs) Ogebe a renowned consultant, health planner, health manager, Anaesthetist and a Family Health Programmer was a board member, panellist and head of some agencies in 1981, and was invited to Regional Consultation Committees of World Vision International (African Region). She was also a member of the board of governors of Vom Christian hospital, Plateau State, as well as a member of the board of trustees of “the Leprosy Mission Nigeria and Leprosy Mission International Board, the UK between 2000 and 2013.
She is a trustee of the Tabita Evangel Ministry International Jebu, Miango and grand matron, board of advisors, the Chairos Foundation Lagos. She is also the Chairman Board of Trustee, IZANO Leadership and Peace Initiative, Abuja.
In an interview with blue print “When I decided to be a medical doctor, I had set eyes on only one missionary doctor who was female. I had not set eyes on a Nigerian female doctor. I had heard of one when I was in Form 2 and an undergraduate came from the University of Ibadan to do a holiday job in my school. She was studying physics and I asked her if there were Nigerian girls training to be doctors. She affirmed. Ibadan was the only College of Medicine at that time.” Her work and life have been largely underreported. She is a woman whose work deserves recognition.