From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
In Nigeria, out-of-pocket spending, according to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) accounts for more than 70 per cent of health care spending, as a means of financing the Nigerian health system.
The report revealed that majority of Nigerians do not have health insurance covers of any kind: “Nigerians that are largely poverty-stricken probably do not have or have extremely limited access to quality health care.”
Though there have been arguments that policy makers and political actors should increase public health expenditure in the budgetary allocations to the health sector. Some groups and individuals have taken it upon themselves to complement government’s efforts at giving health lifeline to different categories of people in the society.
Ogbomoso 1st Group (O’1st Group), did just that recently. The group organised the exercise in collaboration with some development partners. It organised a free medical outreach for 3,000 residents of Ogbomoso, Oyo State. They comprised different categories of people, including aged, weak, sick, vulnerable persons as well as security agents and journalists to be more effective in the discharge of their duties.
It attracted beneficiaries from five local government areas in Ogbomoso zone, namely Ogbomoso North, Ogbomoso South, Surulere, Oriire and Ogo Oluwa. The exercise, was held at O’1st Centre, Oke Osuru, Ajaawa Road, Ogbomoso. It had about 100 medical doctors from different specialisations, more than 100 nurses and 10 practitioners of natural medicine to dispense free medical services to beneficiaries.
Journalists that covered the opening ceremony of the exercise in Ogbomoso were also given opportunity to undergo the medical consultations, and tests. And some of them that needed reading glasses were given at no financial cost to them.
Chairman, Ogbomoso First Group, Sir Olusegun Adekunle, said: “It is an outreach meant to bring awareness on health issues to support government to meet the expectations of the citizens. It is to provide a platform upon which the citizens in the categories that we have mentioned and other categories as a matter of fact, to check their health status, receive counselling, go through cost free consultation. They will also receive referrals to tertiary health institutions around us like the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) and LAUTECH Teaching Hospital that are collaborating with us.”
Provision was also made in conjunction with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for a drug free test, apart from National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), Oyo State Agency for the Control of Aids (SACA), and a United States-based professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology, Oluwole Ajagbe, a native of Ogbomoso, to carry out the exercise.
He said doctors, nurses and other experts were available to attend to people, adding that provision was made for over 3,000 people: “There were other value additions to what we did. There was a pharmacy, manned by pharmacists and public health workers. They dispensed drugs such as anti-malaria drugs, that we can dispense to people, after they have done all our consultations and tests.
“These tests include blood sugar, and other things. We also took their vital signs and we advised them to know if there was any form of danger, such as high blood pressure or not.
“But the good side of it is that the National Agency for the Control of HIV and Aids, came. The agency donated rapid test kits, as part of their community engagement process.”
Chairman, local organising committee for the medical outreach, Otunba Bayo Babatunde, said about 6,000 eyeglasses, 3,500 COVID-19 test kits, and 3,000 HIV/AIDS rapid test kits, were among medical facilities provided for people that came for the medical outreach. Each of the beneficiaries was made to undergo necessary medical consultations and tests before they were treated, given eyeglasses, drugs and so on at no financial cost.
The professionals on ground for the exercise, he said, included medical and dental surgeons, optometrists, dental technicians that help to fix glasses, apart from 20 medical students, and 30 student nurses, from Bowen Teaching Hospital and LAUTECH Teaching Hospital. He added that the students during the outreach were exposed to community health practices.
Babatunde noted: “We have given them remedial care. But we have many beneficiaries. We shall review their cases one by one towards giving further assistance to the beneficiaries.”
Prof Ajagbe said he collaborated with the Ogbomoso First Group for him to give back to the society. One of the beneficiaries, 76-year-old Madam Arike Afolabi, said: “I have eye impairment and that is why I came for this outreach. I could not see very well.
“I am happy that I came here. They attended to me very well. I was tested and they have me free drugs and eyeglasses. When I put on the glasses, I could see what I was unable to see before. I am very grateful to Ogbomoso 1st Group.”
Another beneficiary, Christy Ogunesan, said: “I came here for general medical check-ups, especially for my blood pressure (B), eyes, COVID-19 and HIV. The results came out, my HIV test result was negative and COVID-19 test result was also negative. But the BP was a little bit high. They gave me different drugs to use. Then, they said I did not have any problem with my eyes.
“I must say that this is not the first time that I would benefit from the philanthropic gesture of Ogbomoso 1st Group. I have been with this group since 2017. I have benefitted so many things from this group. I say thank you and may God continue to bless, help and protect you all.”