As a show to support civic responsibility, a team of health practitioners from across various organisations in Nigeria and from the United States of America, converge in Kebbi State to aid the less privileged. In this report YAHYA SARKI sheds light on activities of a free medical outreach and its impacts on a society full of hope.
Kebbi Medical Centre recently became a beehive of activities as its multipurpose hospital in Kalgo, was host to 250 medical experts including doctors, nurses and consultants from Moses Lake Medical Foundation in faraway United States of America. It consists of a team of 27 as well as 45 from Pro Health International.
Other medical experts that joined the foreign team of doctors included 33 from University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, 20 from Usmanu Danfodio Teaching Hospital Sokoto and 30 health experts from the host state Kebbi. While the remaining 95 are volunteers from different organisations. What is so unique about these health experts from different fields and organisations is that they are all united with one aim, offering free medical services to people. This is not only for people of Kebbi state but to anybody irrespective of any religious or ethnic background .There is no barrier, the services are completely free. This ranges from getting a card for registration, seeing doctor / consultation, medication, drugs and surgery.
The three Weeks free medical outreach programme started on 24th of April, 2018 and is expected to end on the 12th of May,2018. This is the 4th one organised by Kebbi State Government in collaboration with Moses Lake Foundation from the USA and Pro Health International, an NGO that is actively engaged in providing free healthcare to the less privilege in the society. It also covers eyes, nose, dental, paediatrics, orthopaedic surgery among others.
The Kebbi Medical Centre where the outreach programme is taking place with over 100 doctors and 130 nurses also has six theatre rooms, 30 consulting rooms with 2 doctors in each of the consulting rooms to cater for the hundreds of patients trooping to the hospital from within and outside the state to take advantage of the free medical service. Hundreds of patients with different ailments thronged the hospital daily. The current strike action embarked upon by Joint Health Medical Workers Union of Nigeria also necessitated the large influx of patients to the hospital.
According to the Commissioner of Health Kebbi State, Alhaji Umar Usman Kambaza the gesture by the state government and all the partners who joined hands in the programme was for the common man to get access to medical services free of charge from the calibre of medical personnel such as the consultants, doctors and nurses which the common man cannot reach easily free of charge. “ All services are absolutely free ,everything free including the medication, the surgery and the drugs , the State government will bear the cost ‘’, he said.
Kambaza said also that apart from the humanitarian and philanthropic aspect of the programme, it helps the medical personnel of the state to interact with their counterparts from other parts of world to strengthen their medical skill towards giving people better health services. He said the programme is targeting cover over 35,000 patients within 3 weeks of the program and that the ministry of health was liaising with other ministries and agencies, governmental and nongovernmental for the success of the programme.
Dr Aminu Haliru Bunza, Director of Medical Services in the Kebbi State Ministry of Health who is the Chairman of the clinical committee for the medical outreach program opined that all that was needed for success of the programme was provided by the government. He described this fourth medical outreach in the state as the most successful one in terms of arrangement, coordination, number of medical experts and even coverage for the benefitting patients.
“So far this fourth outreach had been the most successful one, everything was done smoothly, as you are from the first outreach we started, over 50,000 thousand patients have been seen. But this outreach is a special one because of the JEHESU strike in the country. You can see we have large numbers of patients because the FMC Birnin Kebbi and Usmanu Danfodio Teaching Hospital Sokoto in view of that we have a lot of patients coming in, already in the first day a lot of surgeries have taken place. Everything that is been done here is free of charge from registration to seeing of doctors ,going to the labs and surgeries .If a patient is admitted, we feed them before discharge. We don’t turn anyone down, be you from Kebbi, from Niger or Sokoto, any patient that comes we attend to him, it is open to all and sundry “, he said.
On the calibre and number of patients coming, the programme is targeting three weeks of its operation. Dr. Bunza opined that they would as much as possible cover as many patients as humanely possible.” We don’t fix number, we are going to work as much as possible. If it means we see 80,000 patients we will do our best. We have a professor only on data analysis to do the capturing for us. And concerning the calibre of medical experts we have, first and foremost we have doctors, consultants and nurses from University college Ibadan, we also have a big team from Pro Health, an NGO that is involved in health care delivery, we also have Moses Lake Medical team from United States of America that have been partnering with the state government that have been offering free services to our people,
“We also have doctors from Usmanu Danfodio Teaching Hospital Sokoto, we have doctors from FMC Birnin Kebbi and of course we have a lot of doctors and health workers in the employment of Kebbi State that are here with us .One important thing about this outreach apart from seeing patients, it creates synergy and bring experiences and skills from doctors and other experts from within and outside the country .WE have over 100 doctors from different specialities , over 130 nurses ,pharmacist, Lab scientists ,radiographists, radiographers and many others .I want to assure you that we have six theatres in this complex and they are fully busy .
We have 30 consulting rooms, each of the rooms is man by two doctors. Everything we offer here is completely free,” he said. Dr. Bunza however said the major challenge they have was the crowd control issue. He call on people especially patients to be orderly in order to allow the medical experts do their work smoothly.
The head of Moses Lake medical team from USA, Dr. Lateef Olaniyan who is also the President of Moses Lake medical team, while explaining the motive of their visit to Kebbi State also commended the arrangements put in place by the Kebbi State Government for the success of the programme.
“ We are here in Kebbi State for free medical outreach, for free medical mission to help people of Kebbi State especially the people who cannot afford to pay for their medical services due to their financial circumstances they cannot pay for their medical bills .We have the intention to help them out ,to help the state . We know the state is doing the best it could but we are just complimenting what the state is doing. And in terms of arrangement, I can say this is the best because the things that have not been taken care of in the previous ones have been provided in this 4th medical outreach. For example last one we did we have problem in oxygen supply at the theatres. But now we have excess supply”, he confirmed.
One of the patients, an old woman of 63 years of age, Amina Alhaji said she has been attended to by the foreign doctors due to her eye problem and everything she received was free “” I came with eye problem, I was tested free of charge, saw the doctor and even my medication, drugs everything was free unlike before when I go to hospital I usually pay “” she said.
Umar Maliki (55yrs) from Kalgo local government area in Kebbi State was diagnosed to be suffering from waist, joints pain. He said he suffered for over five years in pain but finally, he prayed that all will be well after seeing the doctors. Maliki pleaded for more and more of this type of free programme from government especially for them who could not afford to pay for such medical services. In his words ‘’ Let the Kebbi state government continue with this program, interestingly, I have seen the governor. Senator Bagudu made several visits to see us here and see what is going on”, he concluded.
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