Tribute to Dr (Mrs) Uduak Christabel UDOM, BSC, OD, MPH, FAAO, FNCO (FNOA)

Dr (Mrs) Uduak Christabel UDOM, BSC, OD, MPH, FAAO, FNCO (FNOA)

Dr Uduak C. UDOM was an iconic hero in the field of Optometry where she made notable impact in her home country Nigeria and globally.

She had a Bachelor of science in 1978 and Doctor of Optometry degrees in 1998 from the University of Benin, Nigeria. She earned a Fellowship in the Faculty of Primary Care Optometry in 2006, Post-Graduate course in the College of Optometrists. The same year she obtained the Prestigious Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry in 2006. In 2010, Dr. Udom was the first optometrist to be awarded with the United Kingdom (UK) Commonwealth Professional Fellowship with three months’ professional development.

Her quest for community health led her to obtain a Master’s degree in public health from Salus University, USA in 2015.

Dr UDOM started her service in the profession as the Chairperson, Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), Akwa Ibom state chapter 1994 – 2004 and Vice President (East), NOA 2003 – 2006.

She went on to serve as the first among equals in many Professional Associations. She was the First President of the Women Optometrists in Nigeria (WON) 2000 – 2004 of which she was one of the founders in 1998 and contributed immensely to the prevention of avoidable blindness by making free Optometric services available to the grassroots.

Thereafter, she was elected the first Female National President of the Nigerian Optometry Association (NOA) 2006 -2008 which she held for 2 consecutive tenures. During her tenure, she established a scholarship scheme for students to encourage excellence in academics and supported clinical practice by getting sponsors to donate ophthalmic instruments to the training institutions. She registered the NOA with the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) which gave it more recognition and played an active role in the World Council of Optometry (WCO) created within its Public Health Committee and Governing Board. She instituted a partnership between the NOA and ODORBN to make continuing education and workshops mandatory, thereby improving professional development in eyecare delivery by Nigerian Optometrists.

Dr UDOM further became the first female President of the African Council of Optometry (AFCO) (2008-2012). As president of AFCO, she promoted a review of the AFCO constitution and mission statement to reflect the public health relevance of optometry, held leadership workshops, increased collaboration with Special Olympics and created a new website with online CPD. In addition, she inaugurated the Ethiopian Optometric Association and negotiated the establishment of a Master’s degree program in Clinical Optometry at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia.

While in office as AFCO president, she was instrumental in creating a relationship with Salus University, Pennsylvania that resulted in the establishment of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between AFCO and Salus University to offer partial scholarships for African Optometrists to earn an online Master’s in public health degree.

Dr. Udom’s love for her profession and selfless service was also seen in her relationship with the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Regulatory Board of Nigeria (ODORBN), the Board regulating her practice in Nigeria where she was a Board member from 2009 to 2011.  She served as a Board Member of Volunteer Optometrists Services to Humanity (VOSH) UNIBEN Chapter 2005 – 2012, and had been a Member of the Governing Board, World Council of Optometry since 2008.

She  was a member of the Board of trustees in  the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), Women Optometrists in Nigeria (WON) and Fellowship of Christian Optometrists(FCO)  till death. She served in her capacity as an ex-officio in the executive council of the Nigerian (Post-Graduate) College of Optometrists.

Her leadership  skills were  recognized, evident by various prizes she received such as Woman of the Year, American Biography Society (2005); the Leadership in National Development Gold Award D’Linga Nigeria (2008); Eye care Supporter of the Year, Nigeria Vision Expo (2008); the Special Olympics Opening Eyes Award for Volunteer Service Lions’ Club in South Africa (2010); NOA’s Meritorious Service Award (2011) and in 2013, she was named the Nigerian Optometrist of the Year an award presented by NOA. That same year, she was awarded the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) ‘Eye Care Leaders Award 2013’ during the IAPB Council of Members meeting in Brighton, making her an IAPB Eye Health Hero.

Uduak had several publications in both national and international journals. She was a motivational presenter at national and international conferences and she also lectured at universities.

For the love of her profession, Dr Uduak UDOM joined several professional bodies including Nigerian Optometric Association (Fellow), American Academy of Optometry (Fellow), Nigerian Association of Gender and Science and Technology, Women Optometrists in Nigeria, Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) International, International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL), Fellowship of Christian Optometrists International and Low vision and Rehabilitation Society of Nigeria.

Dr Udom loved community eyecare which led her to volunteer in several outreaches and trainings. She was among the first set of 11 “train- the- trainers” program of Vision 2020 community eye health in Nigeria/Cameroon region, with this training she initiated workshops to train eyecare personnels in Nigeria, Trinidad, Ethiopia, Uganda’s and Malaysia.

Her last service to the NOA was as the chairperson of the Advocacy committee which championed the training of the executives on advocacy.

Until her death, she was a Primary Care Consultant at CeeJay Vision Centre, Uyo, Nigeria; an instructor in the faculty of Primary care optometry of the Nigerian College of Optometrists and a Liaison officer for Africa, VOSH International.

 Dr. Udom served as a member of WCO’s Children’s Vision Global Advisory Board, and as a member of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Advisory Committee for the World Report on Vision.

Dr. Udom was happily married to Ezekiel Udom, who has been very supportive of her career development; and they are blessed with four children and two grandchildren.

Prof. (Mrs.) Ebele B. Uzodike

Registrar/CEO, ODORBN