Judex Okoro, Calabar
At least 8,000 asylum seekers from Cameroon as well as residents are expected to benefit from a free medical exercise across 26 primary health care facilities in eight border communities of Cross River State.
The medical outreach, which is expected to last 12 weeks, was initiated by the Cross River State Ministry of Health and the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency, with support from the Nigerian Red Cross Society and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It was organised for the benefit of warring communities and refugee camps in the state.
The communities include Belekete up the Ranch, Amana, Utanga in Obanliku, Danare 1 & 2, Bashua, Ikom, Agbokim, Ajasor and Mfameyin, Ekang in Obanliku, Boki, Ikom, Etung and Akamkpa local government areas.
During the outreach, a team of medical experts was selected from the collaborating agencies to carry out tests and routine examinations on the people. The areas covered were antenatal care, delivery, HIV and tuberculosis, general OPD, reproductive health and psychological support,
Other medical services were in the area of infectious diseases monitoring, referrals and drug administration, just as diagnosis were also done for malaria, gastroenteritis/diarrhoea, peptic ulcer and upper respiratory tract infections.
Speaking at Akamkpa community in Akamkpa Local Government Area after the team had visited about four communities, the director-general of Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), Dr. Betta Edu, said the Nigerian Red Cross Society and United Nations Population Fund had been committed to educating, informing and empowering warring communities on the dangers of fratricidal war.
Edu said the agencies always responded swiftly, supporting the people by way of relief materials and medical aid; in addition, the two international aid agencies had also done well in helping to build the capacity of health workers to respond to health challenges in selected primary health centres.
She said the outreach would go a long way in enabling the agency meet its antenatal healthcare needs and assist those that had been molested in the course of the crisis by offering them psycho-social support and referrals.
Also, UNFPA representative, Joachim Chijide, said: “My organisation will continue partnering with Cross River State and other relevant agencies to bring healthcare closer to the refugees as seen presently with the medical outreaches across the affected areas.”
Chijide added that condom outlets had been set up to help refugees and residents access family planning and protective measures easily for free.
Calling for more support at all levels to give priority to health, he noted that a healthy community was a developed community: “Government should give more priority to health. It is when people are healthy that they will think of moving the nation forward.”
The project focal person and health advisor of the Nigeria Red Cross Society in the
state, Dr. Ernest Ochang, said the refugees’ health condition was poor, hence the need to intervene. “We are glad we could do this much with the state,” he added.
He also spoke about his organisation. His words: “The Nigeria Red Cross Society is part of a global movement with more of humanitarian activities. We work in collaboration with UNFPA and Cross River State Government in places where there are disasters, diseases, displacements from conflicts, and dehumanisation of human beings.
“The health need was seen as one of the most critical needs to be provided for the refugees, and so the organisation has provided refugees with free treatment cards that would enable them to access free health services in any primary healthcare centre they visit in the state.”
He advised the primary healthcare workers in the UNFPA and Red Cross facilities to refer cases that require more clinical attention to the secondary healthcare facilities and the general hospitals.
One of the beneficiaries, Miss Roseline Agbor, from Agbokim in Etung Local Government area commended the quality of the services rendered. He said the exercise was a divine intervention in the people’s health situation.
Her words: “I am very happy because it is about progress of the people in the community. Today, we have a newborn baby in our family. They have checked my blood pressure and they asked me to reduce my sugar intake.
“I was also given drugs and a mosquito net. I encourage other organisations and politicians to come to the aid of our people, because most of us do not have money as we escaped from war in southern Cameroon.