By Adewale Sanyaolu
The rustic community of Imeke, a suburb in Olorunda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Badagry will not forget April 17, 2021, in a hurry.
It was a day chosen by the local chapter of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Pyrates Confraternity, Saratoga X Deck, Festac Branch in partnership with Sir. Afam Chukwuma Hope Foundation to propagate the ideals of the NAS Medical Mission initiative.
The event was also part of activities to commemorate the World Health Day which held across the globe on April 7, 2021, but due to logistics, distance and terrain of Imeke and the Easter break, it had to be shifted to April 18.
As early as 8am that morning, the aged, middle-aged, children, nursing mothers of the predominantly fishing community had converged on the palace of the paramount ruler of Ajagun of Imeke Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Abraham Olatunji Adebowale Ogabi, to have a feel of what NAS Saratoga X Deck had in plans for them.
While waiting for the programme which was slated for 10am to commence, those that had gone for early morning fishing, also hurriedly joined others waiting patiently under the big tent that was provided by the Palace.
By 9am, the Palace ground, venue of the medical mission was filled up with no less than 80 beneficiaries already seated and at exactly, 9.30am, a medical officer, Dr.Tunde Obajimi, commenced an induction programme to intimate the locals on the essence of the programme, what it seeks to achieve and the expectations from the beneficiaries.
Obajimi who spoke in Yoruba language because most of the beneficiaries were illiterates who could neither write nor speak the English language, told the crowd that tests which included; blood pressure test, sugar level test, weight, and prostate cancer test for men above 40-year-old would be carried out on them.
He added that, once one attains 40-years old and above, one begins to experience some changes in the body system and ailments including; high blood pressure, high sugar level, among others begins to manifest.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Oba Ogabi, who also participated in the medical exercise, commended members of NAS Saratoga X Deck for deeming it fit to consider the community worthy of the laudable initiative which he said will go along way in supporting the health needs of beneficiaries.
He said most the beneficiaries ordinarily cannot afford to pay for healthcare service which comes at a premium, saying the drugs given to the patients after tests and diagnosis will forever remain indelible in the hearts of the beneficiaries.
He however called on other spirited organizations to compliment the good spirited efforts of NAS in bringing relieve and healthcare support to those living in rural communities.
Ogabi added that the NAS initiative would afford beneficiaries to know their health status, saying majority of them do not have the resources to carry out health checks was done free of charge by NAS.
Also speaking, 80-year-old, Mr. Ebenezar Idowu, said the gesture remained one of the very first in the community, saying Government should take a cue from NAS in supporting the health needs of those residing in rural communities.
‘‘Since I have been living in this community, I have never seen this kind of gesture either from Government or a private entity. I thank the organizers for remembering us’’
For 74-year-old, Noimot Folasade Adewale, the Iyalode of Imeke Kingdom, said the programme is a welcome development for the community and is well appreciated.
She urged the organizers not to forget the community in hurry and should do all it can that they become a regular in Imeke Kingdom
In her remarks, 47-year- old Mrs. Ajoke Amosun, urged NAS Saratoga X Deck not to relent on its oars by ensuring that the medical mission to the community is not a one-off gesture and should be carried out frequently.
Commenting, the Steerer, NAS Saratoga X Deck, Mr. Afam Chukuwma, said the association decided to make the gesture a rural one due to the high poverty level in such communities, adding that healthcare remained a luxury for these set of people.
He said it would have been easier to carry out the medical centre in urban centers such as Festac and it environs, saying doing such would have been counter-productive because those in such areas live above the poverty line and could easily afford the cost of medical bills, hence they may not appreciate the initiative.
‘‘From the huge turnout, you can see the welcome reception accorded to us. They probably may not have seen this kind of gesture in a long time. For us it is our joy that we are touching lives of people that may not have access to quality medical care often.
Chukwuma explained that NAS Saratoga is just a branch of the larger NAS which has its membership spread across over 60 chapters across the globe, stressing that the NAS medical mission is one of the advocacy tools its uses to reach citizens. Others according to him are; the street child project, an initiative which targets to rehabilitate out of school children and the less privileged in the society.NAS Redball and the Citizens Summit.
He noted that the paucity of funds to carry out the medical mission informed the decision of the branch to partner with the foundation in a bid to shore up the contributions of its members.
In his remarks, the Medical Pyrate of the branch, Dr.Bonaventure Egbujuo, said the target audience for the medical mission was deliberately designed to capture the children between the ages of 5 to 10 year-old, the aged which included men and women.
Egbujuo said what struck him the most was that majority of the patients consulted were not aware of their medical conditions.
He disclosed that high blood pressure and diabetes remained a major reoccurring factor among the members of the rural community while most children presented cases of respiratory tract infection.
For those with medical issues, he said the medical team on ground has been able to counsel them alongside the drugs given to them which could now be presented at a hospital for follow-up appointments.
Prior to the take-off of the programme, the Deck leadership had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the office of the Department of State Security Services(DSS) and the Divisional Police Officer(DPO),Badagry Division.
The highlight of the event was the distribution of free mosquito treated nets, hand sanitizers, face mask and drugs to children and aged.