Cedars House of Grace Church recently took its free medical outreach to Agungi and Ajiran communities in Lekki area of Lagos State.
As early 9am, members of the communities started coming in trickles to the open field that was used for the programme. As gathered, the exercise was thrown open to people of all ages and religious beliefs. By the end of the exercise, no fewer than 500 people had been attended to.
About 20 medical workers, comprising doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists, who are members of the church, were on ground to attend to patients. The beneficiaries, having been screened for the common diseases, were given drugs. The experts made some referrals on the cases that were beyond them.
Speaking on the importance of a regular health check-up, the chairman, planning committee of the programme, Temitope James, a medical practitioner, said the church spent over a million naira to organise the event, despite the fact that all the experts were volunteers.
“We try to be as comprehensive as possible. We don’t just test people, but allow them to go to the general practitioners first. Then after the consultations; the doctors will determine who need what kind of investigation. If we cannot carry out the diagnosis, we refer the patient to a diagnostic centre to have the right test done.
“Here, we have ophthalmologists who give free spectacles to patients with identified eye problems. We screen them for malaria, upper respiratory tract disease, hepatitis, high blood pressure, sugar level and the dental problem.
“We have seen over five cases of hypertension today. There was a 24-year-old young man that we screened who had a BP of 160/99, which is abnormal. Hypertension in a young adult is very rare, so we have to follow him up to know the possible causes and to give him a comprehensive treatment,” he said.
He believes that the future of a robust health care system in Nigeria lies in primary health care, adding that it is at that level that a lot of prevention takes place. But he stated that it was sad that cases that are supposed to have been taken care of at the primary health centres would still be found t the tertiary health institutions. He added that when the people are healthy, it would increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, and here would be high productivity.
On how often people should go for a general health screening even without any symptoms, James said it was important that people should have yearly full medical evaluations done. But he said the reason most people don’t carry out regular check-ups was the fact that access to quality health care was nothing to write home about in Nigeria.
“As far as we are practising our medicine on the basis of out-of-pocket payment, we are not going to get a lot of people going for routine medical check-up. And that is why it is always too late before people present themselves in the hospital. Some sicknesses don’t come with symptoms.
“In the hospital where I practise, to register is N10, 000, and to consult a doctor is N20, 000. Looking at what we are giving the people for free today, each of the beneficiaries would have spent nothing less than N20, 000 if they had gone to any private hospital to get the same services. We give out free drugs, tests and consultation,” he said.
Apart from addressing the health needs of the people, he said the essence of conducting the exercise was to also preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to members of the host community.
The pastor of the church, Gbeminiyi Eboda said the initiative was one of the ways of giving back to the society and helping government to prevent and combat different diseases. He described the opportunity to give back to the communities as an honour and a privilege. “There is nothing that God blesses you with that should end with you,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Samson Aondohamba, who hails from Benue State, said that was the first time he was benefiting from a free health care service organised by any individual or group. He said he had been having a headache and itches in his private part for days, which prompted him to partake in the exercise.
“I am grateful to the church because I have been suffering but I have no money to visit the hospital. I was tested and the doctors gave me drugs after the result came out,” he said.