Agnes Yewande Savage (1906-1964) was a pioneering Nigerian medical doctor and the first West African woman to train and qualify in orthodox medicine. She achieved a groundbreaking milestone by graduating with first-class honors from the University of Edinburgh in 1929 at the age of 23, becoming the first West African woman to receive a university degree in medicine. Despite facing gender and racial barriers in her career, Savage made significant contributions.
After graduation, she joined the colonial service in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) as a Junior Medical Officer, where she faced inequality despite her superior qualifications. In 1931, Savage was recruited by Achimota College and served as a medical officer and teacher for four years. During this time, she mentored Susan de Graft-Johnson, who later became Ghana’s first female medical doctor. Savage’s influence extended to Matilda J. Clerk, another medical pioneer who trained at Achimota and Edinburgh.
Returning to the colonial medical service, Savage worked at Korle Bu Hospital in Accra, where she played a vital role in establishing the Korle-Bu Nurses Training College. She retired in 1947 due to exhaustion and spent her remaining years in Scotland, caring for her niece and nephew. Savage’s significant achievements and legacy continue to inspire generations, breaking barriers for women in medicine in West Africa.
Agnes Yewande Savage passed away in 1964 from a stroke.