By Christine Onwuachumba
By the end of next year, 2018, a world-class renal dialysis facility will be available at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). It is one of the projects announced by the Lions Club International (LCI) at its 100th International Convention in Chicago, United States last July.
The newly elected District Governor of Lions District 404, Mr Okpeseyi made the pledge recently. He was elected District Governor in August to complete the tenure of former District Governor Olusola Dada who died on July 12 at the Murtala Mohammed Airport while returning from the club’s international convention in Chicago, USA.
He said the club would continue with Dada’s programmes, one of which is the construction of the dialysis centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
“We are putting in our optimal effort to get it completed before the end of this Lions Year. If we can’t achieve that substantially, we would have achieved more than 75 per cent, and we can proceed from there in the next Lions Year. But we are working hard to ensure that we complete it,” he said. The dialysis centre is estimated to cost N200m.
Okpeseyi stressed the importance of having a world-class dialysis centre in the country. “What we are trying to do is a one-stop arrangement centre where everything connected to renal dialysis is taken care of within the building. The facility we are putting on ground is going to be one of the best in Nigeria, if not in the entire West Africa region. One of the reasons we chose a government hospital is to make this service accessible to those who do not have so much money to travel abroad to access this kind of facility,” he noted.
While admitting that a dialysis centre is a very expensive facility, he opined: “if we domesticate it on a sustainable partnership arrangement with the hospital, it would address the issue of the accessibility for the less privileged. It is not going to be totally free, but it is not going to be as expensive as you have it now.”
Speaking on diabetes, he said the Lions Club was making efforts to gather reliable statistics. He informed, though, that the discoveries so far are as startling as to demand an intervention awareness campaign to sensitise the public.
“A lot of people have diabetes and they are not aware. They don’t even know what it means,” he said.
Meanwhile, other Lions Club health programmes––such as cornea transplant, Cataracts surgery, diabetes awareness campaign, Pediatric cancer screening, eye screening and provision of glasses––are ongoing relentlessly.
Its eye screening and provision of eye glasses programme segues into the World Sight Day––starting on October 8, and ending in a grand finale at White Cane Safety Day on October 15 that will feature a walk to assist those who are visually impaired.
Other upcoming important programmes include the Peace Poster Contest and the Lion Quest initiative.
At the briefing, Mrs Funmi Alabi, Peace Poster committee chairperson, explaining how the international competition reflects one of the tenets of the club, namely, the fostering of a spirit of understanding among the people of the world, hailed its timeliness because “we need peace even in this country.”
The Peace Poster contest, which debuted in 1998, annually receives as much as 400, 000 entries from children between the ages of 11 and 13 around the world. Nigeria has not missed any of the edition since the advent of the contest whose grand finale in 2017 is scheduled for November 28.
“Lions Club programmes are designed in response to the prevailing conditions in the society, and presently, peace is one of the most sought after thing anywhere in the world,” Okpeseyi amplified. “The children angle to it is this: while trying to build their art skill, we are also trying to make them imbibe the culture of helping the society at large. A child that grows up to understand peace, will also live a peaceful life. We are trying to catch them young, to make them understand that peace is important to coexist as people,” he explained.
The Lion Quest programme, on the other hand, is directed at adolescents, but this year Lions Club is seeking to take it to a higher level with a “Train the Trainers” workshop scheduled to feature teachers from different schools who will in turn be trained by senior trainers from India.
Okpeseyi expatiated thus: “We are focusing on teachers, [that is] support the teachers so that they can handle the children properly and give them adequate training that is required to mold them into proper and responsible adult.”
The district governor also explained the rationale behind the “New Partnerships in Service” theme for the club’s present Lion Year.
“It is simply saying that we are operating an open-door policy whereby any organization that can help us deliver effective service is welcome on board. Service is not a campaign for Lion’s Club International alone. It is a duty for all and we are willing to partner with any organization.”