…As group offers free medical treatment to residents
From Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia
At Awba-Ofemmili, a community in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, all is not well. Hospitals, clinics or basic health centres are lacking in the community, leaving residents with few options.
But some succour came the way of the mostly indigent members of the community recently. A non-governmental organisation, Archbishop Maxwell International Pastoral Care Resource Centre (AMIPCRC), stormed the village and gave the residents a free medical service.
Members of the organisation converged on the community with loads of drugs and a team of 15 medical officers. The medical experts diagnosed the residents, mostly farmers, of various ailments, such as malaria, typhoid fever, high blood pressure and diabetes, among others.
The visit of the NGO was like a lifeline to the villages. Before the visit, the people of Awba-Ofemmili had no means of accessing healthcare besides visiting herbal homes and through occasional visits of non-profit medical teams.
Even before 8 o’clock when the AMIPCRC team arrived the venue of the event, many of the villagers were already waiting. Most of them had collected numbered tallies to promote a smooth exercise. Few hours after its commencement, the heavens opened their dams, and rain began to pour down in torrents. But that did not deter the people from trooping into the Community Secondary School, venue of the event.
Speaking on the rationale behind the exercise, the Chairman of the Nigerian chapter of Archbishop Maxwell International Pastoral Care Resource Centre (AMIPCRC), Prof. Anthony Agbata, informed that the gesture was propelled by the group’s desire to extend its milk of human kindness to the people. He lamented that the community had no functional hospital for treatment of their various diseases.
He added that members of the group also helped in educating the people on healthy lifestyles and health management.
He added: “We also sensitised the people to understand that diseases which they have and which is in every community are not caused by witches and wizards but that they occur everywhere in the world. And we are trying to make them understand that if they do the right things, they will live a healthy life.”
The Professor of Pathology regretted that many communities across the country were still lacking in basic amenities, including hospitals. “Through this programme, we also try to get the attention of the government to know that there are areas of this country that are totally neglected health-wise. This is such an area.
“Hypertension is almost a scourge in this country. We don’t know why but we believe that daily stress from daily living is probably a factor that influences the manifestation of the genetic traits in this regard. The important thing is to educate that there are ailments that are not cured but are controlled, which unfortunately most of our people don’t understand. Cases like hypertension cannot be cured but can be controlled. And it’s important for us to emphasise to them that if you control it by taking your drugs daily and regularly, you’ll live normal productive life. But if you don’t, you run the risk of having a stroke. Also, diabetes is not cured unlike in the traditional medicine where there is cure for everything. We know that diabetes is a metabolic disease, with changes occurring at the cell level. So, you cannot cure it unless you can reintroduce the missing factor into the cell. But you can control it. So, it is important to teach them how to control it through diets and drugs, and to let them know the complications if they choose not to control it. Without control, they run the risk of having complications in the eyes, having their legs and toes amputated because the diabetes causes neural changes in those areas to the extent that sores develop in those areas, leading to amputation.
“And in this particular area, Awba-Ofemmili, they are versatile farmers. So if they’re sick, they cannot produce food again. And already, it is telling on them, because stroke is a menace in this community, as I understand. There is no available healthcare to monitor their blood pressures. And they are very hardworking people, working late into the night and then coming and sleeping with all the stress. Like we noticed today, everyone is virtually hypertensive,” he informed.
Some of the residents who spoke to our reporter expressed gratitude to their benefactors for bringing succour to them. This is even as they also decried the decrepit state of the community, saying it is lacking every basic social amenity, including a functional hospital.
A community leader, Mr. Ozua John said: “We are very grateful to the archbishop for this kind gesture. Since he became archbishop, he has been sending this group to this community to treat sick people free of charge. There was a time he sent oculists to treat people with various eye problems. They also gave them free eyeglasses. He does that almost on yearly basis. He has this community at heart.”
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Catherine Obidigwe, who was visibly elated, dazed everybody when she openly declared that witches and wizard had inflicted her with various ailments but expressed thanks to God for being on her side.
According to her: “I came here because I am sick. The witches and wizards, who are looking for those to kill are after me, but God has not allowed them to harm me. They sent me stroke, but God did not allow that to reach me. They sent me hypertension but God saved me. So, I thank God for this group. They have done well for coming to this community to save lives free of charge.”