From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
For as long as she could remember, Mrs Ifeoma Okwesilieze, a 52-year-old woman from Alor community in Idemmili South Local Government Area of Anambra State had always suffered from uterine fibroid.
For that long, she writhed in agony, as according to her, her ailment literally drained her joy; leaving her almost with nothing to cheer about.
Okwesilieze told Daily Sun that her efforts to get medical treatment at the time were fruitless, as the cost of surgery, which was needed to enable her get well again, was very high.
She said she had resigned to fate before she learnt about a free medical outreach sponsored by the lawmaker representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Chris Azubogu.
For Mr Okwuchukwu Odunukwe, a 44-year-old farmer from Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of the state, his joy knew no bounds. He told Daily Sun that he suffered the pains of cataract for five years.
“I have never received this kind of favour before. I am still trying to know whether this is real or not. It still seems to me like a dream, because for five years I was devastated, rampaged by cataract,” he said.
The fourth edition of the medical outreach took place in four centres – Diocesan Hospital, Akwudo in Nnewi; Joint Hospital, Ozubulu; Diocesan Hospital, Amichi and General Hospital, Ukpor.
At the centres, there were crowds of patients with various ailments. By the fourth of the nine days the programme was scheduled for, over 9,000 patients, according to the doctors, had been handled.
With that number, it was projected that at the end of the programme, about 25,000 patients or more would have been treated.
Team leader of Doctors on the Move Africa, Dr Joseph Kigbu, told newsmen that he had over 90 health professionals in his team and had so far made appreciable progress.
“We have already done over 200 cataract surgeries; over 140 general and gynaecological surgeries and we have seen close to 9,000 patients already.
“We are here with over 90 health professionals. About 12 of them are specialists in various fields of medicine. I am a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
“There was a woman who carried uterine fibroid for 15 years and then the fibroid grew and almost equivalence of nine months pregnancy.
“So, it becomes technically difficult to help her. And we were forced to do very major surgeries like hysterectomy. God has been so gracious. All of these surgeries have been successful”, said Kigbu.
The lawmaker, Azubogu, said that the free medical outreach was part of the fulfilment of his promise to his constituents. He said that despite his other interventions in education, roads, housing, industries, empowerment, he knew his obligations to the people in the health sector.
“That first edition my team wholly undertook in 2017 opened our eyes to the real and enormous challenges facing my dear constituents.
“This prompted our decision to widen the scope, hence writing to and convincing the Federal Ministry of Health of the people’s basic medical needs in my constituency and consequently getting their consent of dedicated partnership.
“After the second edition that took place in January 2019, the statistical figure of our overall efforts stood at 7,750 patients attended to from within and outside the constituency.
“This number comprised 3,850 adult women, 2,780 adult males and 1,140 children. There were 134 successful general surgeries for uterine fibroid, ovarian cysts, lumps, scrotal elephantiasis, and hernia.
“There were also 204 eye surgeries, 776 patients treated with various forms of eye problems, 406 issued with medicated glasses, 706 laboratory investigations were conducted and over 250 ultra scans performed.
“The subsequent third edition in December 2019 saw an encouraging improvement from the first two editions. We attended to 7,723 patients, out of which 430 had surgeries comprising 268 eye surgeries and 215 other surgeries. We gave out 4,810 medicated glasses, conducted 3, 525 lab diagnosis and performed 434 scans. It became clear to us that we’re making the desired progress”, he stated.
Azubogu explained that the medical team was able to achieve the feat because they employed modern medical techniques.
“When people hear of surgeries, they most probably think of the old method where one is cut open, stitched up, stays in bed for seven days, then stitches removed before he/she learns to walk straight once again.
“What is mostly happening here, and has been happening in all the past editions is the absorbable and dissolvable strictures method. That is modern technology where the patient walks home minutes after without bothering about the stitches, which very conveniently heals with the cuts in a matter of few days,” Azubogu explained.