Ekopimo Ibia Foundation

Ekopimo Ibia Foundation Bridging the gap between the underserved and quality healthcare. In mid-April 2016, Dr. Ekopimo O. Ibia was diagnosed with a rare disease called AL amyloidosis after months of vague symptoms.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis came too late for quick and successful treatment. He died on June 14, 2016 having contributed much to the field of regulatory science and positively affected the lives of many in the United States, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world. Ekopimo Ibia Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to extending Dr. Ibia’s vision and legacy in two ways:

1. Promoting

Unfortunately, the diagnosis came too late for quick and successful treatment. He died on June 14, 2016 having contributed much to the field of regulatory science and positively affected the lives of many in the United States, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world. Ekopimo Ibia Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to extending Dr. Ibia’s vision and legacy in two ways:

1. Promoting


Where There's a Need
There's a Way

Greetings from all of us here at Ekopimo Ibia Foundation. Thank you for all your support in our charitable pursuits to continue Imo’s legacy of goodwill towards all people. Our work of health promotion for the underserved population continues for our non-profit foundation. Despite the pandemic, we've found a way to make an impact. We had thought that there would be a pause in our efforts, yet we've managed to continue with the mental health awareness aspect of our mission and that has opened up several opportunities to help our various communities deal with the increased mental health impact of the pandemic.

However, we haven't forgotten about our paused first project—cervical cancer prevention in Nigeria. We know how important this work is to the country, particularly with new findings in a recently published study in the Lancet that shows that the HPV vaccine is cutting cervical cancer by nearly 90% in the UK and other developed countries. The HPV vaccine can only prevent an infection, it cannot rid the body of the virus once it has been caught. The viruses are so widespread that immunization has to be aimed at children before they become s*xually active. Cervical cancer remains the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, killing more than 300,000 each year. About 9 out of 10 deaths are in low and middle income countries where there is little access to cervical cancer screening. Vaccination will therefore make an even bigger impact in these countries—like Nigeria—than wealthier nations.

So far, Ekopimo Ibia Foundation has immunized 300 girls in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states against this deadly disease that kills 80% of those diagnosed in West Africa. We have also donated cervical cancer screening equipment to the Medical Women Association Nigeria, CRS branch—who also champions this cause. We continue to spread the word about the need to include this vaccine among the adolescent schedule of vaccinations in Nigeria.

You might think, "only 300 girls?" Yes, 300 girls aged 9 to 14 from 2018 to 2020 and that is quite a feat! That is 300 girls that will not have cervical cancer in a country where 80% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer die. The subsidized cost of the vaccine alone for all 300 (600 doses) was $15,000. Yes, through generous people like you, we were able to fundraise enough to cover this cost. Before we got there, no girls in Calabar had received the HPV vaccine because of lack of awareness of the fact that cervical cancer is a preventable cancer caused by an infectious agent. However, poverty is the main driving force causing inability to acquire the vaccine by the average family as the unsubsidized cost of the vaccine for each girl is $85 which is close to the average 60-day income of most families.

Now that COVID19's immunization is available, we plan to return to Nigeria in 2022 to continue this work. Please help us restart with a bang. We hope to immunize 500 girls from 2022 to 2023! We are hopeful that we can. Yes we can! We are raising funds for the vaccine from friends, neighbors and many kind-hearted people like you. Please donate any amount of your choice to help this cause. As you shop on Amazon, please consider using AmazonSmile and choosing the Ekopimo Ibia Foundation as the charity you are supporting. Your help is much appreciated.

Thank you for your support.


How Does One Continue To Live On
After the Death of a Loved One?

That is a question that I have asked myself just about every day after the sudden death of my husband, Ekopimo Ibia (Imo) five years ago. I have had to wonder and ponder about it a lot because I had never considered my life without him before his death. I had known him and been with him all of my adult life till he died thirty two years later. In my psyche, whether good or bad, we seemed almost fused together, it was difficult to think about myself without thinking about him as being part of it. The more I have thought about it, the more I have come to see that I am learning anew the process of continuing to live every single day without him.

The most unhelpful way to handle a situation like this is to allow oneself to feel helpless in the grieving process and potentially think that there was nothing one can do to support oneself and family who are going through this. Research and my personal grief journey shows there are some simple strategies that are helpful. I wish to share this with you in a way that fits with the general theme of using our loss and grief of Imo for the greater good—just like Imo would have done.

[Understand what you’re going through.]

The first step is to update your understanding of grief, and bust some long-held and unhelpful myths. For instance, there’s little evidence suggesting we always go through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—made famous by the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler. Despite how well-known this framework is, bereavement researchers agree that the five stages model needs to be retired. They argue that it is too simplistic and does more harm than good, by making grieving people think these stages are common and then they judge their own experience if it doesn’t fit.

[Grief is as individual as your fingerprint; it looks different for different people.]

Just as every life is unique, so is every death and every person’s journey to assimilate that loss into a world where their loved one is no longer present. It is also important to know that when a loved one dies suddenly, loved ones are left to cope with symptoms of trauma as well as the grief of the tragic loss. This is a double whammy because one then struggles with both the grief of losing a loved one as well as the trauma of the very tragic circumstances surrounding the loss. In my case, I recall that my husband’s medical condition caused multiple syncope attacks with cardiac arrest. Because everyone knew that I was a physician, I was never asked to leave the room while he was being resuscitated during these episodes. In the heat of the moment, I did not think to leave either. For months thereafter, I had to work through the replaying of these very traumatic scenes in my head with the help of a psychotherapist.

[Talk, talk and talk about it.]

Talk about your loss and tell your story but only when you are ready. Do this without judgement, with the help of a therapist, trusted friends and even as part of a guided group like a grief share—a Christian church-based grief group. In using these settings, you are less likely to encounter the ignorance that many express in their comments in their attempt to be “helpful” after your loss. This is because “a central process in grieving is the attempt to reaffirm or reconstruct a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss,” explains Bob Neimeyer, the leading researcher on the role of meaning-making in bereavement. Neimeyer’s work has demonstrated the importance of meaning-making through talking for adapting to the loss of a loved one over time. Talking through what has happened, going over the “event story” and the “backstory”—sharing details of the event and how much this person meant to you with a trusted friend—is an instrumental part of meaning-making. If someone you know is grieving, it is better to just give a listening ear and let them talk. Many grieving are usually desperate to tell the story of their loss. Avoid the temptation of forcing the person to talk if they are not ready but keep the invitation open by letting them know that you will always be available when they are ready. Resist the temptation of telling your own personal grief story except they ask you about it.

[Build a legacy. Create simple rituals.]

This is something that we can all do when we lose someone we love. Take some time to intentionally reflect upon their legacy by asking yourself these questions:

What did your loved one teach you?

How has knowing them changed you?

How has your thinking or acting changed for the better for knowing them?

What impact have they had on your life?

How do you behave differently now because of their life and also because of their death?

How can you commemorate that? What can you do to keep that legacy alive?

I remember that I refer to Ekopimo Ibia Foundation as “my mourning project” because it has helped me immensely to continue Imo’s lifework of service to other people. It has incorporated his work in pediatrics, infectious disease and public health as well as our faith and my work in psychiatry. It is uniquely ours and has helped me make meaning of the loss as well as provide comfort that I am continuing his legacy in every way that I can. The loss of my Imo has made my family and friends a priority in my life over anything else. Who knows when the good Lord will say my time on earth is done? Legacy building does not have to be as complicated as starting a charitable foundation as I have done. One can also go about it in less formal yet more personal ways. In our family, we do things Imo liked to do: Our sons wear bow ties for all formal Ekopimo Ibia Foundation events, I think about Imo whenever I cook his favorite Nigerian soups, Edikang Ikong and Efere Ndek Iyak. I even imagine what he would have said as he ate.

I keep our unique family traditions going. I have a walking trail that is uniquely Imo’s “long and short route” depending on how many miles he thought fit for the day’s walk. There are many other deeply personal rituals—too numerous to mention. I am sharing some of these to help you out there who may have lost a loved one, so that you know that there are uniquely personal ways in which you can keep the legacy of your loved one alive.

One thing is certain, Imo would have wanted us to delight in continuing to do good to as many as we can in as many ways as we can. Like he used to say, “be like a postage stamp, stick to your envelope till it is delivered and your job done.” We are doing just that with our new mental health talk series to minority and faith-based groups.

Itoro E. Ibia, MD, FAPA


1. Lucy Hone, PhD, is an adjunct senior fellow at the University of Canterbury (NZ) and author of Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss that Changes Everything and the TED Talk 3 Secrets of Resilient People, one of the Top 20 TED Talks of 2020.

2. Robert A. Neimeyer is the author of Meaning Reconstruction & the Experience of Loss.

3. Joe Kasper, MD, is the author of the concepts of Co-Destiny, Positive Bereavement and the Bereavement Growth Cycle.

There's Help for YourMental Health StrugglesMental health includes one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being....
NIMH » Help for Mental Illnesses

There's Help for Your
Mental Health Struggles

Mental health includes one’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It affects how we handle stress and relate to one another. Mental health conditions are common and could happen to anyone. Thankfully, there's assistance at the ready whether you or someone you love needs to consult with a mental health professional soon or right away.

If the matter you're dealing with isn't urgent, there are various next steps you can take. One measure is making an appointment with your primary care provider. They can serve as an initial gauge of what the symptoms you're experiencing may be a sign of, and refer you to a specialist who can provide further help.

You can also bypass meeting with your primary care provider and seek the support of a specialist first. Sometimes, choosing one out of the many mental health professionals offering services in your area can be a difficult task, but there are ways to get around that. Getting in touch with your insurance company can help you find a professional your plan will cover. Asking a friend or neighbor may also be fruitful, as they may have heard of someone they can refer you to. Alternatively, many local hospitals have a referral database they can use to assist you.

If what you're dealing with can't wait, there are connections you can immediately make to ensure you'll make it through your struggle. If you're feeling like your life is at risk, the National Su***de Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is just a quick call away. This line will put you in touch with a crisis center near you that can provide you with on-the-spot counseling and referrals to the professionals you need to see. Please remember that the overwhelming bad feeling that you have will get better with treatment.

Looking for other ways to get help? This comprehensive article by the National Institute of Mental Health presents a range of resources: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/.


The Ekopimo Ibia Foundation

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, there are ways to get help. Use these resources to find help for yourself, a friend, or a family member.


Know the Signs
of Mental Illness

Every May, Mental Health Awareness Month is observed across the United States. Since spreading awareness on mental health conditions—what nearly one in five adults in the country are diagnosed with—is one of the important aspects of our mission, we would like to share the behavioral and physical signs you should look out for, when assessing yourself and your loved ones, that could be reason to find support. Everyone goes through tough times, but if you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms listed below and sourced from the National Alliance on Mental Illness—for more than several days—don't hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.


The Ekopimo Ibia Foundation


1. Excessive worrying or fear
2. Feeling excessively sad or low
3. Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
4. Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable "highs" or feelings of euphoria
5. Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
6. Avoiding friends and social activities
7. Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
8. Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
9. Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
10. Changes in s*x drive
11. Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and sense things that don't exist in objective reality)
12. Inability to perceive changes in one's own feelings, behavior or personally ("lack of insight" or anosognosia)
13. Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
14. Multiple physical ailments without causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing "aches and pains")
15. Thinking about su***de
16. Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
17. An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance


A Pause
and a Bit of Advice

As the season sheds the trees, we want to thank you for your partnership as we continue our work in Ekopimo Ibia's memory. We pray that you and your family have remained safe despite the continuation of the unprecedented health and socioeconomic crisis. Even though COVID-19 has persisted, Ekopimo Ibia Foundation remains focused and committed to its core objective of bridging the gap between the underserved and quality healthcare. We have had to temporarily suspend our cervical cancer prevention project in Nigeria—the need to isolate and maintain social distancing makes this school-based immunization project untenable at this time—but we will resume as soon as the pandemic is over.

The widespread contraction of coronavirus has been described as the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. This pandemic is also causing an unprecedented mental health crisis. In a June survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45% of Americans felt that it is harming their mental health (19% felt it had a “major impact”). In a mortality and morbidity weekly report published by the CDC, 40% of adults reported worsening mental health in late June because of the pandemic, and suicidal ideation-related emergency department visits are up by 11% since it started and are continuing to rise.

Because of these reasons, there has arisen a need to help people cope with the uncertainty and loss that is causing great emotional distress in our communities. Ekopimo Ibia Foundation has been invited to educate and inform several faith-based and minority communities about the potential current and future mental health outcomes of this traumatic event and how to deal with them. In the past three months, we have held six virtual mental health awareness seminars. We have adapted the words of Theodore Roosevelt as our motto during this time: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” We invite you to participate in what we are doing by safely reaching out to friends and neighbors to offer whatever support you can during this time. Just a talk and normalizing of anxious feelings goes a long way to battle the fear that many feel.

Below is advice (derived from a World Health Organization pamphlet) from a take-home slide we shared during one of our talks. We hope you can keep these recommendations in mind as you walk through the rest of the year—and further. Godspeed.


The Ekopimo Ibia Foundation


Acknowledge that there is a crisis and that any anxiety or helplessness you feel is valid.

Know the risks by heeding the guidance of medical professionals.

Get the facts and avoid conspiracy theories.

Focus on what you can control and not on what you can’t.

Switch off the disturbing news and ignore peddlers of false information.

Take care of self and family by wearing and encouraging the use of masks, handwashing regularly, social distancing, exercising and eating well.


1760 Reston Parkway, Suite 215
Reston, VA


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I received word from the Ekopimo Ibia Foundation "Thank you for your donation. These young people's lives are protected from cervical cancer because of you. You rock!! We are currently on our mission trip in Uyo and Calabar, Nigeria." Itoro E Ibia, M.D
This is a deserving foundation committed to women's health in Nigeria. Dr. Itoro Ibia makes 2 mission trips a year to provide care to an under-priviledged community. I can endorse her efforts and if you feel so moved, please consider a donation.