Dr.Jolanda Koçi will be remembered for many reasons, especially during the current Covid-19 Global Pandemic. As a leading scientist with her impeccable wisdom, charm and scientific credibility, Dr. Jolanda, along with her peers, would have had a great impact in addressing pandemic challenges, including the Covid-19.
By Kastriot Kotoni,
The memoirs of prominent figures of Albanian medicine are perpetuated in an outstanding book written by Professor Flamur Tartari, perhaps one of the most meticulous/renown authors of all time in the recorded medical historic journal in Albania.
Professor Tartari was as passionate about working in the hospital in the department of urology as he was writing books on various topics, but especially writing about prominent figures of the Albanian medicine, where he was extraordinary for researching and enriching archives with crucial additional material for each figure.
Dr. Jolanda Osmanlliu Koçi was the first scientist of the Albanian Medical School, Prof. Tartari used to tell me among other things. She distinguished herself as a leading woman in the emerging Albanian science elite.
On May 5th, 2020, Dr. Jolanda Osmanlliu Koçi, would have turned eighty. Dr.Jolanda Koçi will be remembered for many reasons, especially during the current Covid-19 Global Pandemic. As a leading scientist with her impeccable wisdom, charm and scientific credibility, Dr. Jolanda, along with her peers, would have had a great impact in addressing pandemic challenges, including the Covid-19.
Dr. Jolanda started to pursue her career, after graduating from high medical school in 1955. After graduating from Tirana University Medical School in 1960, with very high grades, she began her career as a physician at the Central Bacteriological Laboratory HQ, later Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. She worked in the Department of Vaccine production, in diphtheria and tetany antitoxin department.
Her professional growth began as a junior doctor to the head of department, head of vaccine production department, to deputy director of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology from 1989 to 1994; a total 34 years of non-stop hard work till May 30, 1994, when she passed away.
Her distinguished career ended abruptly, as she lost her battle with a very serious illness.
In 1971, after a three-month specialization in Bucharest, Romania, she merged two vaccines together, that of diphtheria antitoxin type with that of native tetanic antitoxin, which until then were separated. She was then successful to combine the vaccine against pertussis (cough), thus producing in our country, the very famous Tri-Vaccine diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), used throughout the world in preventing three very dangerous infectious diseases. This was certainly a breakthrough in the Albanian medical research system, and beyond. Dr. Jolanda certified this vaccine based on world standards. She vaccinated (inoculated) all children and monitored its safety. The Vaccine proved to be safe (very few minor side effects) and effective with no reported deaths from tetanus for nearly 10 years. Also, for the first time, pregnant women were vaccinated during their third trimester of pregnancy and as a result, the risk and the infection during childbirth, from the deadly tetanus, was completely eliminated.
Dr. Jolanda Osmanlliu Koçi is also the first Albanian woman in the field of prophylactic medicine to proudly attend world and European medical congresses, meetings and forums, respectfully distinguishing herself as a high caliber professional authority among her colleagues, highlighting therefore the work of the Institute as well as hers in the field of prophylaxis and vaccine production in our country.
Dr. Jolanda conducted a comprehensive study of the epidemiology of tetanus in our country from 1949 to 1977, examining cases one by one, the types of the disease, the cause and treatment and also the outcome. Her meticulous research on tetanus culminated in a scientific paper which was conducted in order to obtain the degree of medical science candidate in mid-1977 under the title “Tetanus; Epidemiological, immunological and prophylactic aspects”. With the approval of the High Attestation Council of the Ministry of Education, Decision no. 28, dated 27.12.1979, and the Council of Ministers Decision, no. 99, dated 28.12.1979, Dr. Jolanda Koçi received the degree of Candidate of Science as the first doctor in the epidemiological and hygiene infectious services (prophylaxis sector) in our country.
Dr. Jolanda completed many studies in her lifetime and many of them were published in journals like “Bulletin of Medical Sciences,” “Bulletin of Military Sciences” and “Bulletin of the Institute of Hygiene”. Her studies on diphtheria and tetanus and the effects of post-vaccination have also been published in foreign journals in Romania, Italy, and in the World Health Organization Bulletin.
Dr. Jolanda Koçi has also been a regular participant in meetings of the WHO European Bureau of Hygiene and Epidemiology, in the years 1988-1992.
She passed away at a time that she would have fully enjoyed the benefits of her work and life; she would have seen her career and science dreams come true, as well as the progress of the Institute where she worked all her life.
Dr. Jolanda was an extraordinary woman, a highly respected doctor, a loving mother, revered and cherished by her family, colleagues and friends. Her untimely passing in 1994 left a deep void in the hearts of all of those who knew her, worked with her, and benefitted from her research and achievements. She will always be in our hearts and thoughts.
Dr Jolanda Osmanlliu Koçi holds the title of the “Grand Master”, the highest award bestowed from the President of the Republic of Albania to notable individuals with valuable contribution for their scientific research and achievement in service of humanity on national and international level.