Meet Professor Anionwu, Divas of Colour Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Professor Anionwu has been shortlisted to receive a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Divas of colour for her contributions to upholding the dignity of women of colour through services in the healthcare.

At the time when sickle cell was a strange illness to many, she was one of the first professionals to educate the Black and African communities on the nature of this disease.  For over two decades, she has  continued to selflessly educate both the masses and would be healthcare professionals .

Elizabeth is the Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London and is a qualified nurse and health visitor tutor who has held senior executive roles at various organisations. She was appointed as the first ever UK sickle cell/thalassaemia nurse counsellor and was Head of the Brent Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Information and Screening Centre from 1979 to 1990.

She was a senior lecturer in Community Genetic Counselling at the Institute of Child Health at the University College London, and was the Dean of the School of Adult Nursing Studies & Professor of Nursing at University of West London.  She established and was Head of the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice, again at University of West London. On her retirement, she was honoured with the award of Emeritus Professor of Nursing.

Prof. Anionwu has had articles published in many journals. In addition she is co-author with Professor Karl Atkin of the book ‘The Politics of Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia’ published in 2001 by the  Open University Press and is author of the 2005 book ‘A Short History of Mary Seacole: a resource for nurse and students’ published by the Royal College of Nursing.

Elizabeth is a member of various committees including the Editorial Advisory Board of Nursing Standard including the NHS Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Screening Programme Steering Group.

She is Vice-Chairperson of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal and is a Patron of the Sickle Cell Society and the Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association UK and Vice-President of Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA).

Elizabeth was awarded a CBE in 2001 and in 2004 a Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing (FRCN).  In 2010 she was inducted into the Nursing Times Nursing Hall of Fame for services to the Development of Nurse-led Services.

“Prof is one of the first women I read about and came to cherish so much. It’s like a dream come through to finally  have the opportunity to honour this great woman. She is not just great in achievements, she is also great with a humble, warm and down to earth heart. “- Faustina Anyanwu (Founder Divas of colour).

In a one minute chat with her, this is what she had to say of being recognised.

You will be receiving a lifetime achievement award at  Divas of colour this year, how does that feel?

“It makes me feel very honoured to have been chosen for this award. My sincere appreciation to the organisers of the Divas of colour International women’s Awards for this splendid award they have decided to honour me with.  It is a wonderful personal affirmation and a great boost to morale! Thank you very much.”

What are your expectations of the event this year?

To meet many high-achieving women of colour!

What do you think of the initiative to create the platform to recognise and celebrate the contributions of women of colour.

It is an excellent idea and long may it last!

You are one of health professional living legends in the country, how would you assess the general health of women.

My concern is that many women of colour are quite stressed out with the resulting complications of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and other health problems.  Fortunately more are taking steps to redress these problems with exercise and friendship networks.

Any message you have for people coming for divas of colour 2015?

To enjoy themselves and carry on doing their excellent work and to encourage others.

Prof  is blessed with a daughter –  Azuka and a grandchild – Rhianne.

Professor Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, PhD CBE FRCN

Emeritus Professor of Nursing, University of West London

Vice-Chairperson: Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal

Patron of the Sickle Cell Society & Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association UK

For more details about Professor Anionwu and her works, please visit –

http://www.uwl.ac.uk/academic-schools/nursing-midwifery/professor-elizabeth-anionwu