Professor Arinola Olasumbo SANYA


Professor Arinola Olasumbo Sanya

The First Female Professor of Physiotherapy

The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission joins the family, academia and other well-wishers across the globe in celebrating the first Female Professor of Physiotherapy in Africa, Professor Arinola Olasumbo Sanya.

Professor Arinola Olasumbo Sanya, BSc, MEd, PhD, MNSP, SRP is a Professor of Physiotherapy & former Head, Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine, of the University of Ibadan (COMUI). She is the first purely home grown and home groomed Physiotherapy Professor from the Premier Physiotherapy Training Institution South of the Sahara. Professor Sanya is also a Consultant Physiotherapist to the University College Hospital (UCH). Ibadan.

Arinola Olasumbo Sanya was born in Lagos on 25th April 1953 into the Akinpelu family. She is an indigene of Oyo State. Nigeria. She was at the Salvation Army School. Surulere. Lagos from 1959-1966 for her Primary School Education. She attended Queen’s College Yaba. Lagos from January 1967-June 1973 for her Secondary School education and Higher School Certificate (HSC). She distinguished herself so well that she was appointed the Head Girl of Queen’s College in 1973. She then proceeded to University of Ibadan (UI) between September 1973 and June 1976 where she graduated with BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy (2nd Class. Upper Division Degree). Her BSc dissertation was titled “Traditional (Yoruba) Form of Physical Therapy”.

Immediately after her National Youth Service, she opted for the Academia. She was employed as a Graduate Assistant in the Physiotherapy Unit COMUI while enrolled in the M.Ed Exercise Physiology program of the University of Ibadan (Ul) (April 1978-Sept. 1981). After a successful defense of her M.Ed Exercise Physiology thesis titled “Application of the Works of Kraus, Raab and Weber to the Treatment of Low back Pain”, she was appointed Assistant Lecturer from October 1981-March 1983. She was Lecturer II from March 1983-September 1986. During this period, she was also a Doctoral candidate in the PhD Exercise Physiology Program of the University of lbadan. In 1986, she successfully defended her Doctoral thesis titled “Effects of Endurance Exercise Program on the Respiratory function of Asthmatic Children”. She was thereafter appointed Lecturer I (October 1986) until her elevation to position of Senior Lecturer in June 1990.

Dr Sanya while on sabbatical in October 1990 was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Physiotherapy, Department of Rehabilitation Science, College of Applied Medical Science, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. She also had a Teaching Locum in Nov. 1997 at the Department of Physiotherapy Hamed Medical Corporation, Qatar.

Professor Sanya is beautiful, articulate and eloquent. Her strides and gait patterns are gracious and elegant. She is intelligent and resourceful. Her charm disarms her opponents. Her charisma draws respect and natural willful submission from her subordinates and those she is mentoring. Her public relations skills are superb and highly captivating. She infects her professional colleagues with enthusiasm and motivates her students with her astounding intellectual abilities.

When you meet her. you cannot but be affected by her positive attitudes and positive outlook to life. She is thorough, detailed, unassuming and industrious. She is indeed a blessing to her generation. She is a virtuous woman. Her husband must have been gifted to have discerned and chosen this gem of a woman for wife. Her students (behind her) call her Mama; her contemporaries call her Sumbo. She has laboured faithfully and consistently in the area of her professional calling. She has earned the respect of all and she is loved by all.

It is a privilege to present here in the Nigeria Physiotherapy Hall of Fame, this distinguished lady Professor of Physiotherapy.

Dr Sanya was elevated to the position of Professor and Head, Department of Physiotherapy, COMUI in October 2000. She is an astute researcher and author of over 30 original research articles published in reputable peer-review Journals. She has at least three book chapters to her credit, over five published abstracts and numerous papers presented at Scientific Fora and Conferences. She has at least seven newly completed research works to her credit.

Professor Sanya is External Examiner to all Physiotherapy training Schools in Nigeria. She was recently appointed member, Medical Rehabilitation Therapist (Registration) Board of Nigeria (MRTRB). She is the Chairperson, Editorial Committee of Faculty Newsletter. Faculty of Clinical Sciences & Dentistry (FCSD). She is also a member of the Society for the Study of Pain, Nigeria. Professor Sanya is a State Registered Physiotherapist (SRP). She was registered in 1988 to practice in the United Kingdom (UK) by the Physiotherapist’s Board of the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM). She also holds Part A & B Certificates of the McKenzie Institute International in Spinal Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (May & November 1993).

A unique contribution of Professor Sanya to the development of Physiotherapy in Nigeria was her decision to stay back at home in Ibadan instead of going abroad for greener pastures. Her presence has contributed to maintenance of standards and continuity of the COMUI BSc Physiotherapy Program of studies. She had every opportunity to go abroad but chose to stay back.

She initiated and spearheaded the successful development and implementation of the unique MSc, MPhil and PhD Physiotherapy Programs at the COMUI. She persevered and successfully took the programs through various phases of approval in the COMUI, the Ul Post-Graduate School, and the Ul Senate. These unique graduate programs, which successfully took off in 1997 after 51 months of persistent pursuit has begun alleviating the adverse effect of Brain drain in the Nigeria Physiotherapy Industry. The program has graduated over a dozen MSc candidates and has produced it’s first PhD graduate. To date, she has supervised numerous BSc. MSc and PhD dissertations.

She is a gem of great value and worth highly sorted for within the Ul Community because of her administrative and managerial acumen. She is member of numerous committees within UI including: Appointments and Promotions of FCSD (1993-date); University Senate (1992-date); Academic Board, COMUI (1992-date); Board of Post Graduate School (1992-date); Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee (January 2001-date); Board of Staff School (1993-1998); Senate Truth Committee (Feb. 2001-date).

Professor Sanya was Coordinator of the Physiotherapy Unit, then under the Faculty of Surgery (Aug. 1999-June 1990). She was Acting Head of the full-fledged Department of Physiotherapy, COMUI between June 1990-October 1990; Sept. 1992-July 1998 and Aug. 2000-October 2000.

She is also an inductee of the Nigeria Physiotherapy Hall of Fame.

She is married to Dr Yemi Sanya, a Pharmacist and a Business Magnate. He is the MD/CEO of Finemed Nigeria Limited based in Lagos. Their marriage is blessed with four (4) children and grandchildren. Prof Sanya is sister-in-law to Dr. Aderonke Akinpelu also of COMUI Physiotherapy Department.

DAWN Commission celebrates Professor Arinola Olasumbo Sanya for her great accomplishments and contributions to the development of the Physiotherapy Profession in Nigeria and beyond.


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