Dr Aida Habtezion: The African scientist’s exceptional achievements

The story appeared on BBC-Tig on 17 May 2022

Dr Aida Habtezion

 From her pleasant demeanour and superb articulation we could gather she is a thoughtful and astute academic/scientist who took part in the campaign to beat COVID.

Aida Habtezion MD MSc. is a professor of medicine at Stanford. Her clinical focus, academic appointments, administrative appointments, honours and awards, professional education are all highlighted in her Stanford pages.

Now Dr Aida Habtezion is the Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer.  She joined Pfizer during the height of the pandemic.

Pfizer is one of the world renowned bio-pharmaceutical companies.  It developed the COVID vaccine, to say the least.

At the moment Dr Habtezion leads Pfizer’s Worldwide Medical & Safety organisation responsible for ensuring that patients, physicians, and regulatory agencies are provided with information on the safe and appropriate use of Pfizer medications.

Dr Habtezion is born and raised in Asmara. She went to Comboni School during the Derg, the military junta that ruled Ethiopia and present-day Eritrea from 1974 to 1991.  When she was about to finish her secondary school education the Derg nationalised the celebrated school and changed its name to ‘Barka’.

‘What do you remember the most of your upbringing?’ we asked. Her answer was crisp and to the point. The Derg era’ she answered.  She described that era as a time of cruelty and anguish.

‘As a teenager, I grew up without experiencing the beauty of Asmara and its night life. I remember the dreadful curfews, the war, terror the Derg caused throughout Eritrea and Ethiopia’, she reminisced.  ‘The memory that carried me through my young life was the support and tenderness of my beloved family members’, she added.

She said she grew up cherishing the ‘cradle of love’ that rocked her, and sticking to the guidance her parents provided – to develop a passion and develop it to the highest degree. And that is what she did in Canada and later in the US. She managed to attain the highest level of education in medicine with utter focus and tenacity.

“One has to hunt for and identify his/her ‘North Star’/ passion, and work hard no matter how hard are the challenges of life” she said with certitude.  “I was lucky to be endowed with the capacity to convert challenges into opportunities” she revealed her secret.

Dr Aida Habtezion she is the granddaughter of the renowned Dejazmach Haregot Abbai who served as the Mayor of Asmara from 1963 until 1974. Mayor Haregot was credited with modernising the city, covering the Maibela river – the open sewer that split the city into two parts, paving city roads and sidewalks, installing city lights, building thousands of residential homes, and creating tens of thousands of jobs for commuter belt. He was executed by Ethiopia’s Derg in October 1974 by the military dictatorship, the Derg.





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