Shared on 8th December 2017

Professor Lateef Akinola Salako was born in Lagos on July 5, 1935. He had his secondary education at the famous Methodist Boys' High School, Lagos between 1948 and 1953 and from there he proceeded to the University of Ibadan, then a College of the University of London, to study Medicine. After a studentship memorable for outstanding scholastic performances, he graduated MBBS Hons London in 1961, in the process winning the Sir Samuel Manuwa Gold Medal for the most distinguished graduate in his year.

He subsequently obtained a series of postgraduate professional and academic qualifications prominent among which are Member and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London (MRCP & FRCP); PhD and DSC of the University of Sheffield. He taught at the University of Ibadan from 1966 to 1990 from where he retired as Professor of Pharmacology and was promptly appointed Professor Emeritus.

After retiring from Ibadan, he served as Special Adviser to the then Minister of Health, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. Subsequently he was Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research for seven years and for a further three years, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Vaccine Research Laboratories, Yaba.

As a biomedical research scientist, he published over 200 scientific papers and technical reports. His work on the treatment of Hypertension in the African and on Malaria, in particular won wide acclaim for their scientific merit and impact on the health of the people.

He was the first person in Nigeria, to undertake a systematic scientific evaluation of drug treatment of hypertension in Africans. Practically every antihypertensive drug in use in Nigeria today was initially evaluated by him and the current concepts of the treatment of hypertension in blacks emanated, in part, from his work. His work brought new hope of prolonged and useful life to hypertensive Africans.

Professor Salako started his ground-breaking work on malaria at a time when interest in the disease had fallen as a result of the Global Malaria Eradication Programme.

His studies on Early Diagnosis and Prompt Effective Treatment of Malaria led to the improvement of survival rate in children with malaria even in rural areas and enhanced the health status and economic productivity of adults. He pioneered the study of the effects of antimalarial drugs in the body and thus improved the use, and prolonged the useful life of the drugs. His work provided scientific basis for drug combination therapy in drug resistant malaria and also stimulated the search for new antimalarial drugs. He also conducted one of the earliest evaluations of a malaria vaccine in Africa. All these were work at the cutting edge of science.

Recognition of the enormous scientific and clinical value of his work was swift both nationally and internationally. He championed the strengthening of the national malaria control programme and led it for several years. He participated as member or chairman in international forums where the global disease control agenda was set and his advocacy helped in placing malaria at the top of the agenda. In this capacity he assisted in attracting research strengthening grants to several institutions in Nigeria.

His malaria research laboratory at Ibadan became a Mecca for scientists in Nigeria and other parts of Africa wanting to learn research techniques in malaria. His laboratory continues to turn out Masters and Doctorate graduates the first generation of whom were personally supervised by him. His protégés now occupy professorial and other research leadership positions in Nigeria and beyond.

He was a prominent player globally in the propagation of the concept of Essential Drugs and Rational Drug Use, chairing the WHO Global Committee on these programmes for about 10 years and the corresponding Nigerian National Programmes for the same length of time.

He deliberately made time for activities supporting the promotion of Islam and for the pursuit of excellence by Muslim youths. He was President of the University of Ibadan Muslim Community from 1985 to 2000, and Member of its Board of Trustees from 2005. He was also Member, Board of Trustees of Bodija Muslim Community, Ansar-Ud-Deen Education Trust and the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN); and Chairman, Fountain University Board of Trustees.

Recognition of the excellence of his work led to several awards - DSC (Sheffield, 1994), DSC Honoris Causa (Olabisi Onabanjo University, 1996), Honorary Fellow of the Univ. of Ibadan (2006), Distinguished Citizen of Ogun State (1990), DSC Honoris Causa (Fountain University, 2011), Fellow and Past President of the Nigeria Academy of Science, Laureate of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM, 1992), and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON, 2004).

In addition to all these professional achievements, he was a great family man and beloved patriarch of his extended family. He is survived by his wife, Rahmat Adebisi Salako, four children and eight grandchildren.

May Almighty Allah accept his good works, overlook his shortcomings and grant him Aljannah Firdaous.