Beneficiaries of Achina Health Day
The Lift a Widow Initiative (LAWI), a Non-governmental Organisation, on December 30. 2019, organized the Achina Health Day at the Amaiyi General Hospital, Achina, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra state, with outpouring of thanks and praises from beneficiaries, writes CHUKWUDI EJIMOFOR.
Within this past ten years, the Lift A Widow Initiative (LAWI) has partnered with individuals, corporate bodies, Achina medical personnel, Sorompitmist International of Surulere, Nigeria, Sorompitmist International of Swindon, United Kingdom and lately with League of Achina Women Professionals (LAWP), to give free medical assistance under the auspices of Achina Health Day, to Achina people and beyond.
The organizers believe that when there is life, there is hope of human existence. According to them, what makes life worth leaving is the healthy life of individuals. Human existence to them is meaningless without healthy life; that healthy life begets healthy individuals hence a healthy society.
The organizers’ primary motive is to give back to the society that built them, through medical outreach to the rural persons in Achina town and beyond free of charge.
Barrister Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa-Mbah, the first chairman of Sorompitmist International Future African Federation (SIFAF), former director, Board of Soromptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland and the executive secretary, Lift A Widow Initiative, an indigene of Achina in Aguata LGA Anambra state, said that the NGO’s major focus is to stabilize the womanhood through healthy living.
According to her when women are well catered for, every other problem in the society will seem to be half solved.
“Yes, on the Achina Health Day, health they said is wealth, and if you don’t start by helping the women and the children to be healthy, you are going to have a lot of sick babies on your hand, and you are going to have a lot of mothers that lose concentration on your hands also, and as such, we need to make the community healthy first, before we engage in other advocacies. When they are healthy, they can listen to you, and there will be a healthy brain to comprehend,” she stressed.
Barrister Chinwe Ezenwa-Mbah said her personal childhood experience necessitated the establishment of the programme.
“What engineered us to engage in this venture was during my childhood, I had a sickness that crippled me, and the Almighty God saved and healed me from it.
“Am now a healthy person. I have never gone to hospital for treatment except for child delivery, so we thought of where to start, I suggested we should make our women healthy first, and follow up with other things,” she posited.
Explaining the quality of medical team that attends to patients during the Achina Health Day Outreach, Ezenwa-Mbah said: “in our medical team we have a professor of pediatrics, professor of gynecology, a doctor of gynecology, consultant pediatrician, doctor of dietician, in fact we have well qualified medical personals in virtually all the medical fields on the Achina Health Day team.
“We have volunteers also, who are working with us all through that day. Again, what we are actually trying to achieve is training our children in humanitarian services, a way of telling them that one day, they will be the ones spear-heading and helping others. So our children are part of the volunteers.
”At the inception of the programme, we started with 300 patients. In fact the patients population graduated in that order; 2018 we had 900 and above, the figure of 2019 is yet to be computed, but I know it will be over a thousand patients.”
Also, the LAWI team provides food, fruits and water to all the patients during the outreach. The idea is that since many of them especially the adults are advised to come without eating, in order to have accuracy on their sugar test, the need therefore arises to feed them.
At inception, when we attended to about 300 patients, it was manageable, but since their numbers keep increasing yearly, it is becoming an uphill task but one we do not know how to stop and we do not want to stop.
In the present economic realities an NGO or individuals financing projects of this magnitude, it’s usually very tasking. Mrs. Ezenwa-Mbah maintained that ”Sourcing of the funds for these projects starts from me in the first place. Every year, out of my personal income, I budget a certain amount, which normally amounts to over half of the expenditure on a given outreach, then the rest is sourced from my clients, my friends and my family members who have been very supportive.
”Yes there are some individuals and corporate donors, who have been very supportive, but we have never had any international donor(s), thus our constraint basically has been finance and how to mobilise a team to do the job” she asserted.
For expansion of the project, she said the noble gesture has touched other parts of Nigeria and she is hoping to celebrate the 11th year of the existence of the Outreach.
”We would have loved to break every barrier on expansion. We also did this in some other parts of the country. We have done so in Lagos and Osun states in Yorubaland.
“We don’t have to concentrate only in Igboland, because in Nigeria we have similar situation in every tribe. All we need is a little of local content to kick it off. If individuals and or corporate organisations decide to replicate this in their locality, we are ready and willing to partner with them.
”This is the 10th year of the Achina Health Day Outreach; we intend to mark the 11th year in a grand style. We shall invite those who have been helping us to come and witness what they have been supporting” Barrister Ezenwa-Mbah concluded.
Dr. Beatrice Ezenwa, consultant pediatrician, Lagos University Teaching Hospital,(LUTH) Idi Araba, who is also the Medical Coordinator of Achina Health Day, said the group had found out that common illnesses were killing the people, hence medical doctors who hailed from Achina decided to introduce the scheme meant to give succor to their roots.
She said: “When we commenced this Outreach in 2009, a lot of medical Personnel from Achina actually came out for the programme. We conducted free medical care to all the patients that came out that year, and in subsequent years, most of the medical personnel from Achina did not show presence again”.
At that point Lift A Widow Initiative took it up, and continued with the programme. Since then, they have been sponsoring it through the philanthropic gesture of some Achina indigenes, and others from outside the community.”
She added that “the medical consultancy and drugs administered during the Achina Health day are all free of charge, adding that “we conduct medical tests, check their sugar level, and their blood pressure.
“Initially we were also checking their liquid profiles. But after some time, we did not have the capacity for that any longer, because it’s a bit expensive than every other tests”.
Dr. Ezenwa harped on the major illnesses the Outreach has successfully treated, and the challenges they are encountering from severe health cases during the outreach.
“Some, who has chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes, we do give them drugs that last them for some time.
“During the Achina Health Day, we have been able to dictate a lot of people that had diabetes and hypertension, and they were not aware of their medical condition.
“ It’s been a way for us to pickup these diseases early, those in high levels, we usually refer them to Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi, our link will follow them up there, but some of them don’t like going there, I don’t know why.
“There was a time we got a patient with serious eye problem; we referred him to Oji River Eye Hospitals where he did surgery in cataracts, but it is not exercise we do quite often.
“Recently we tried to develop our own eye section during the Achina Health Day. If you come to the outreach you will see more of eye patients, as result our eye doctors usually spend longer time.
“Recently we procured several medical equipment for diagnosis of eye problems. We are making maximal use of the eye doctors we have here, however, we cannot perform eye surgery here..
The responses of some of the patients interviewed at the Health Outreach portrayed the fact that they are satisfied with the humanitarian services provided for them, and they are benefiting a lot from the gestures rendered by the Health Outreach.
One of them is Mazi Chukwudurue Oraebosi, from Umuezeiyi Achina, was highly enthusiastic and celebrative of Achina sons and daughters that organized the outreach.
“What we are witnessing here today is the well-educated, adequately trained Achina citizens, Doctors of all discipline in medical fields assembled all the sick persons from Achina and beyond for a free medical treatment. It is wonderful and very commendable,” she said.
Mrs. Nwuba Cecilia Chinelo, said she was at the outreach specifically to complain about an eye problem, adding that she has been administered drugs and eye glasses by a doctor free of charge.
Chief Daniel Idika, 87 year-old-man, he said he heard the announcement and came, he appreciates the organisers selfless service to humanity.
“Yes it was announced in our church that there will be a free medical care of all illnesses at Amaiyi General Hospital Achina. Am here, I was treated for eye problem, I was not given eye glasses. I was informed that it was cataracts issue, and it has matured for surgery. They don’t engage in surgical operations here.
“But am happy to have been informed it’s due for surgery. I will now plan when to go for surgery soonest. I thank them for this wonderful selfless and humanitarian service they are rendering to the society. Only God will reward them”. Chief Idika stated.
Mrs. Juliet Dim a native of Akpo, said she had benefited from the free medical care in four different years, and it has been of immense help to the health conditions of her family.