Designatory Letters: 
MB Dublin 1954, MRCP Edin 1963 Child Life, Fellowship 1970

Professor Ransome–Kuti was one of Nigeria’s foremost health experts. A specialist in paediatrics, he burst into the national limelight when former military president General Ibrahim Babangida appointed him as health minister in 1985. The two had met at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies a few years earlier, before Babangida seized power. The general was at the institute for a course when Ransome-Kuti came to deliver a lecture. The lecture had such a gripping effect on Babangida that when he became head of state, one of his first tasks was to offer the professor the health ministry.

Ransome-Kuti did not disappoint and made his mark through the rapid introduction of a comprehensive national health policy. He revolutionised the Nigerian health sector by placing great emphasis on preventive medicine, particularly concentrating on preventable childhood diseases and encouraging continues nationwide vaccination programmes. He was also the first to highlight the dangers of AIDS to his fellow countrymen. At the time, many Nigerians believed that AIDS was either a tool of Western propaganda or a white man’s disease from which blacks were immune. But Ransome-Kuti was vociferous and insistent about the risks. Despite the general perception that Ransome-Kuti was the best health minister Nigeria ever had, his reforms were not without their detractors. He faced opposition from health workers who preferred the old, corrupt system to his innovations.

When he left government after the exit of the Babngida regime in 1993, he became a consultant to WHO and a number of African countries. But even out of government, successive administrations in Nigeria sought his advice.

At the time of his death, Ransome-Kuti had been pencilled in for the post of health minister in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s new cabinet.

A recipient of several national and international awards, including awards from WHO and UNICEF, Ransome-Kuti was until his death the chairman of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency in Nigeria. He was also a social crusader. Many Nigerians admired him for his simplicity, hard work, honesty and Spartan way of life.