The American Initiative for Health and Wellness in Africa (AIHWA), a United States-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), recently concluded its medical mission to Nigeria offering free integrated medical care, including 38 surgeries to over 2500 residents of Orlu senatorial zone, Imo State. It was the organization’s maiden medical mission in Nigeria although plans are on for the second phase of the mission. Working in partnership with the Holy Ghost Hospital, Mgbidi, the programme commenced with the arrival of AIHWA’s health experts from the US, who were welcomed to Abuja by the CEO of AIHWA and his wife, Dr. Jim and Sandy Richard, who had been in Nigeria and working on AIHWA outreach programmes for the past six months.
A pre-mission music concert featuring the “Nigerian Tenors” was held at the NAF Conference Center, Abuja and had in attendance eminent personalities and friends of AIHWA, including the Papal Representative in Nigeria, Monsignor Fernandez Javier; representatives of the embassies of Spain, Switzerland and Italy; immediate past Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and his wife; the retired director of Security, FCT, Abuja, Engr Jibril Ibrahim and his wife; Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Healthcare, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed and family; Director of Renewable Energy, Prof Ifeabunike Joseph Dioha, and many others. In his remarks, the President of AIHWA, Rev. Fr Kenny Udumka, explained why the mission had become imperative, adding that the organization was mindful of the fact that the government could not provide all the needs of the citizens alone. He, therefore, expressed gratitude to AIHWA donors, friends, and volunteers for their support, which had helped the organization contribute to the wellbeing of the citizens of the country. “We are indeed appreciative of your continued support. But let us also note that the journey is just commencing and so much needs to be done to positively touch the lives of as many people as possible in Nigeria. This is a noble cause and I urge you to avail us of your support,” he said.
Monsignor Javier thanked AIHWA for sparing a thought for the less privileged members of the society, adding that the organizations intervention was timely and would help give the vulnerable a new lease of life. “What you are doing is laudable and indeed worthy of emulation. Despite the sacrifice involved, I urge you to continue to touch lives as you are already doing,” he said. The former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase equally echoed similar sentiments and encouraged the organization to keep up the good work. The President of AIHWA, Rev Fr Kenny Udumka welcomed all the dignitaries and patients at the venue of the mission while the integrated medical mission at the Holy Ghost Hospital Mgbidi was declared open by the Superior of the Holy Ghost Father, Very Rev Greg Olikenyi CSSp which was followed by the flag off of the event by the CEO of AIHWA, Dr Jim Richard.
AIHWA had earlier conducted pre-registration and orientation at the mission site, a process which helped the host community understand and appreciate the imperative of such a rare charitable intervention within their locality. The response to the offer for free medical care was tremendous, which was not surprising in view of the gaps in medical care coverage within the country.