Her career was literally cut out for her by parents who were teachers. But Dr. Bertha Ekeh, a consultant neurologist at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, (UUTH), has since stepped out of the shadow of her parents. The astute scholar upped her ante recently when she launched five books in one day. Funke Olaode explores her life and mission
She is an amazon who has made the womenfolk proud first as an academic and now as an author of high repute, launching five books on Amazon in one day as she gradually grabs the attention of the world.
Dr. Bertha Ekeh, a consultant neurologist with a strong passion for teaching at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, (UUTH) Uyo, Akwa Ibom State’s trajectory didn’t start today. It was a foundation first nurtured at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Owerri, Imo State where she shone brilliantly graduating with six alphas, got admitted into the university with 323 scores out of 400 in the exams set by the Joint Admissions Board Matriculations.
She was later admitted to study medicine and surgery with special emphasis on neurology. It was not surprising when she was recently celebrated during the launch of her ‘Five Neurological books on Amazon.com that is read all over the world. Her works are distributed through academics, institutions, and libraries all over the world.
She said, “There is no way I could dream of anything this large, It could only be God.”
Though grew up under the shadow of parents who were pupil teachers, the Imo native has since surpassed her late parents in both academic and attainment as she set out to conquer the world. Reverencing her late parents who gave her a good footing in life, Ekeh said the height she has attained today is a combination of education, discipline, and upbringing.
“My parents were teachers in the days when teachers were respected, disciplined. They were not wealthy but were prepared to provide the basic necessities of life which include a good education, disciplined. Therefore, I consider my background the reason I am who I am today.”
Just like a soothsayer who sees tomorrow, Ekeh’s secondary mates had earlier predicted her career path by calling her “My teacher” because of her intellectual prowess. So she wanted to be a teacher. Then her teacher in FCCG Owerri saw an intellectual in Ekeh beyond the four wall of the classroom and suggested medicine. Just like the Twist of Fate, the small box aid in the corner of her father’s room became an inspiration into medicine.
“It might surprise you to know that I didn’t want to study medicine. As a child, my family had a First Aid Box and my mother allowed me to administer the drugs from the box. I actually wanted to be a mathematics teacher, which is my passion. I was supposedly good according to my classmates. My classmates call me ‘My Teacher’.
“So all I wanted to be in life was to be a Mathematics teacher. But my secondary school teachers in Federal Government Girl’s College (FGGC) Owerri, thought otherwise, they felt I had what it takes to study medicine. That was the days when such courses were reserved for brilliant student. My teacher said to me, do not go and study a single honour course, go for medicine. It wasn’t just about me, this female teacher encouraged those who were goodin science subjects to into such courses. With that most of us in science class studied medicine, engineering, and pharmacy,” she recalls.
How does she feel becoming a doctor today? With a tone of contentment, she said it is fulfilling. “Well, mine is a noble profession and when I got into it especially being a Christian, I consider it a calling and so I strive to do my best. Being a Doctor has promoted me, but I look at myself more as a teacher.”
Ekeh recently launched five books on neurology published by Amazon.com.
Throwing more light on what it entails, she said everything revolves her field of practice and the fear she once experienced as an undergraduate.
“I am a consultant Neurologist. That is the study of brain diseases and it was discovered to be a very difficult and complex part of Medicine. All over the world, Medical students and Doctors find Neurology challenging, daunting and difficult. I did too as a medical student. As a medical student at the University of Port-Harcourt, on a certain day I expressed fear about neurology and one of my very senior colleagues who is now a Professor of paediatrics, Professor Nwadiuto Akani, looked at me and said, you are afraid of Neurology; I said yes; she said I used to be afraid too. That degree of honesty was unprecedented. So I asked her what she did, she said she took her time to study it.”
Speaking further on how she overcame her fears, the neurologist explained: “I went, sat down and started reading Neurology, by the end of that weekend, I was teaching my mates Neurology. When it comes to teaching, I have a special gift from God. I teach my classmates, siblings, friends, my seniors, and juniors, then my students.
“Surprisingly, it was not my idea to write books. When I was a senior registrar at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), residents in psychiatry also do resident in neurology for three months. On one occasion, one of my colleagues Dr. Kingsley Mayowa Okunoda, now a consultant psychiatrist at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), came for the three months posting and observed how I was teaching. He encouraged me to write for others to understand.
“I started writing with just one-point agenda to make it easy until another colleague of mine, now a consultant nephrologist Dr. Udeme Ekrikpo who was the first person to catch a glimpse of what I was writing screamed with joy and gave me the needed confidence that boosted my morale.
“I had a setback I when I lost my laptop but Sometime in late 2017, another friend of mine who lives in the US, Dr. Ibiene Osuemeni gave me a link and told me, ‘These people published my books which were more of Christian novels.’ I was able to click and got into the link, but then my works were too large. I said, let me just cut off the first part which was the evaluation of a person with brain disease, but because I want to make it easy, I called it ‘Clinical Neurology Made Easy’.
“When that first one came out, I wondered how to break the remaining work. I needed to simplify it out to write on how to know this is the brain, spinal cord, or just the nerves and the muscles? Or what we call the cerebellum, the part of the brain in charge of balance. People usually do a lot of confusion and I needed to treat that out. Because of this, I wrote the ‘Fundamental of Neurological Diagnosis’, the first part, I wrote ‘Basic Anatomy of the Brain’. Just a simplified version, the second part was the localization of seizure.
“I wrote mine in 100 pages because I needed to explain all big words. The third part was how to conduct an investigation, test for brain diseases which are very expensive. That is where CT scan, MRI is needed, etc. The Fundamental Neurological Diagnosis helped me to address the area of the brain involved. The third one, I started it as a Lecture Note in Neurology, I thought I could write a simple concise notebook in neurology, but it kept enlarging, it was my Book Reviewer, a professor of Paediatrics, Prof. Enobong Ikpeme who read and said, I was undermining the work by calling it a lecture note. This is a textbook of neurology. The Fourth one is called “Mentorship in Medicine” which was inspired two years ago while welcoming new residents at UUTH, as part of the orientation process.”
The fifth book was inspired by her faith as Christian.
“I have heard the word prosperity being bastardized and supposedly making the basics of the Bible. One basic principle of prosperity is that zero cannot be multiplied. One must bring out something no matter how tiny and watch God multiply it. Quick wealth, Ponzi schemes were also discussed. I can only achieve this feat by the grace of God,” she stated.
Commenting on the state of Nigerian education, the erudite scholar who enjoyed the best of education believes Nigeria education is one of the best. “I have travelled widely and outside people marvel at the level of intelligence of Nigerians. I had all my education in Nigeria, I live and practice in Nigerian. I am a Nigerian lady writing books that people all over the world can read. Amazon looked at it and it was not plagiarized that was why they published it. So I can boldly say with the right attitude we will continue to soar high, she noted.