Nigeria’s Joseph Ladapo: Florida State’s New Surgeon General

*Stirs Lingering Mask and Vaccination Discord with Federal Authorities

Ernest Omoarelojie, with Agency Reports

Florida, one of the federating states in the United States of America, USA, has announced the appointment of Nigerian-American, Dr Joseph Ladapo, as its new Surgeon General. The announcement, which was made on Tuesday by the governor, Ron DeSantis, after the state’s cabinet meeting in Tallahassee, indicates that Dr Ladapo, a medical school professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, is replacing Scott Rivkees, reported to have returned to the University of Florida.
Born in Nigeria, Dr Ladapo immigrated to the United States at five, with his father, a microbiologist who left the country for further studies, alongside other members of his family.
Dr Ladapo, who said he is honored to have been chosen to serve as Florida’s next Surgeon General, has a rich academic background. A graduate of Wake Forest University, he also holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Only recently, he was granted a Professorship at the College of Medicine, University of Florida, UF. However, prior to joining UF, he served as an Associate Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA.
Dr Ladapo has also served as a faculty member in the Department of Population Health at the School of Medicine, New York University’s NYU, just as he was a Staff Fellow at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That is, in addition to being involved in numerous research programs, including the one on patient-centred approaches for battling coronary artery disease and behavioural economic interventions to promote sustainable cardiovascular health, especially among adults with HIV. He was, before his time in UCLA, a faculty member in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine, all of which put him in high view with Governor DeSantis.
“Dr. Ladapo comes to us by way of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA with a superb background…he has had both a remarkable academic and medical career with a strong emphasis in health policy research. Dr. Ladapo will bring great leadership to the Department of Health,” Governor DeSantis said while announcing the appointment.
Though Ladapo still has the state’s senate screening hurdle to cross, he is already started releasing comments on the thrust of what he is bringing on the table as Florida’s Surgeon General. In the main, the well heeled public health expert intends to pay more attention to helping the citizens play more part in taking decisions on matters that affect them and helping them maintain good health without being encumbered by unnecessary protocols that come in the way of personal freedoms.
“This idea that people don’t get to make their own decisions on issues of health is wrong and it’s not something that we’re going to be about.”
“We must make health policy decisions rooted in data and not in fear.
“…I have been impressed by Governor DeSantis’ leadership and determination to ensure that Floridians are afforded all opportunities to maintain their health and wellness, while preserving their freedoms as Americans. It is a privilege to join his team and serve the people of Florida.” he said.
But while Dr Ladapo is considered among pro rights group, a rave draft into the Florida cabinet, he is seen in some quarters as an anomaly at a time there is need to hold sacrosanct certain protective health protocols particularly as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, whereas Governor DeSantis and Lieutenant-Governor Jeanette Nuñez are ecstatic over his choice mainly because he echoes their sentiments about non strict adherence the pandemic’s protective protocols, including mask wearing and Vaccination, those in the opposition are worried sick he is a square peg in a round hole. Their concern is not without a reason.
Dr Ladapo holds an unorthodox view on covid-19 protocols. In the main, he is of the view that much of the protocols are with an edge of cruelty, one which practically placed any exercise of personal rights and freedoms at abbeyance.

Essentially, Dr Ladapo is of the view that good health, rather than vaccination is a better path to control of Covid-19. Little wonder, his policy thrust is to “reject fear” as he puts it, by opening up more frontiers that allow people to be part of decision making in matters that affect them.
Obviously, his policy thrust is favored by the state governor who believes there is need to be more scientifically opened about the pandemic.
“Telling the truth is important and I think that’s what Dr. Ladapo understands. You’ve got to tell people the truth and you’ve got to let them make decisions,” DeSantis said.
And Dr Ladapo agrees completely.
“That was a direct result of scientists. My colleagues, some of them, taking the science and basically misrepresenting it to fit their agendas.
“This idea that people don’t get to make their own decisions on issues of health is wrong and it’s not something that we’re going to be about.
“Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies. That’s been something that’s been, unfortunately, a centerpiece of health policies,” he said while accepting his appointment
“It’s been treated almost like a religion, and that’s just senseless,” he stressed.
The appointment of Dr Ladapo as Florida’s Surgeon-General appears to be re-igniting the disconnect in the Covid-19 policies enunciated by the US federal government as opposed to those operating in some of the federating states. Necessarily, the conflicting policy thrusts is fuelling the disturbing and dismissive attitude among certain Americans over both the wearing of mask and vaccination. The sole reason, according to Michael Ovienmhada, author, poet, playwright and public commentator, is former American President, Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is the sole reason why,” he said without any hesitation.

Sadly, much of the outside world, including Nigeria, is walking along the two divides. For Ovienmhada, Trump is still the reason. According to him, it is sad that one man succeeded in dividing not just the US but the entire world over a disease that has almost succeeded in wasting more lives and wrecking the global economy a lot more than the two world wars instead of uniting everyone against it.
“It is a sad state of affairs that the world is divided instead of being united in the fight against a disease that has been more devastating to the world economy than all the World Wars combined. This is our new reality.

“When the disease hit the world, he was in his third year as president. Re-election or failure loomed. The disease be damned. What he did not realize was this, diseases do not respond to command or to fables or to denials…If Trump had focused on the virus with the seriousness and empathy the battle required, he would have gotten everyone behind him but instead he chose re-election over lives,” he said.
While urging other nations not copy Trump’s miscue, Ovienmhada wants Nigerians in particular to reconsider their apathy to Covid-19 prevention protocols as insisting on protection of personal rights will not wish the deadly disease away.
“This is unlike the matter of blood transfusion that a certain religious group objects to. In that case, they hurt only themselves by their refusal to be treated. In this case, you hurt an entire village, city or country. Commonsense should not allow foolishness to prevail. Mandates must therefore be effected to bring people in line with public safety guidelines. One man’s boneheadedness must not be allowed to consume society.
Let us ask the antivaxxers if any of them would be predisposed to working in the same building or living in the same house or sleeping in the same bed with a Leper. If the answer, expectedly, is “no one”, then-don’t they think therefore that what is sauce for the goose ought also be sauce for the gander?” he asked rhetorically.

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