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In Lagos, it’s a free health bonanza for cops

By Bose Adebayo

Due to the strenuous and demanding nature of their job, many policemen barely find time to visit  the hospital to seek medical attention  for such common ailments as malaria and typhoid even when they are down with symptoms that indicate that they have been so infected.

Yet they work under conditions that expose them to diseases which are easily contracted from the environment.

The concern is that where this is the case,  then one cannot honestly expect the police to perform their security duties effectively, especially where medical attention is not readily available to members of the Force.

Police men taking turns to receive free medical check-up
Police men taking turns to receive free medical check-up

But  a non-governmental organisation, Health Matters Incorporated(HMI) believes that the responsibilty of catering to the health needs of police men should not be left to the government alone.

This is why it is presently working in collaboration with another NGO, Society for Family Health, to contribute its own quota towards ensuring that police personnel in Lagos are assisted to overcome their health challenges.

Recently the two NGOs visited the Iponrin Police Station in Orile-Iganmu to distribute anti-malaria drugs and insecticide-treated nets to officers of the station.

The visit afforded  the officers the opportunity to enjoy other free health services, including BP and weight check as well as listen to various talks on health  matters.

Project Coordinator, Oke Matthew, drew their attention to the fact that malaria can sometimes become serious and lead to disability or even death and urged them to be sensitive to the various malaria symptoms.

He charged them to have access to effective and affordable treatment within 24 hours and promote the use of insecticide treated nets, especially for children and pregnant women.

Okey charged them to be alive in sanitation exercise. According to him, mosquitos and other agents of diseases will always thrive if the environment is not kept clean. “Avoid stagnant waters in your environment, clear bushes around you, do not leave empty buckets or use broken buckets to keep water around your house and use insecticides treated nets (ITN),” he advised.

Also speaking, Chief Executive Officer of HMI, Peter Ujomu, said the programme was basically on social mobilisation for malaria control and prevention which entails reaching out to different communities.

“It was meant to increase the awareness about malaria prevention, ensuring the officers are treated with Interminant Prevention Therapy(IPT),” he said.. On the choice of location, he said the community suffers malaria as a result of uncleared drainage systems, poor environmental sanitation, stagnant waters.

“All these give birth to malaria infection and there is need to address this by educating people to keep their communities clean,” he told Vanguard Metro.

Ujomu said the aim of the project is to bring about an increased and informed demand and use of malaria prevention and treatment product services in all local government areas in Lagos State, saying the project commenced in September 2008 with his team working in five  local governments like Eti-Osa-Lekki/Ajah axis, Mainland, Ikorodu, Epe and Surulere. “We have successfully reached 75  vulnerable communities in Lagos State.

Under this project, HMI dramatised the different ways of infection and prevention of malaria in the communities and also facilitated the sale and distribution of malaria prevention and cure products like Long Lasting Insecticides Treated Nets(LLINs), Artemisim based Combination Therapy (ACT) drugs for children under six, and Sulfadoxine and Pyrimethamine Tablets USP (Single dose anti-malaria for Chloroquine resistant malaria  for pregnant women,” he explained.

Some of the officers expressed joy and happiness at the kind gesture from these organisations. “They are trying to protect us from illness. You know our job is a strenuous one and they have helped to prevent malaria which can disturb our job. Our families will also benefit so that people do not just call us to tell us they are sick at home,” said Debo Ayebola.

“I close around 8pm and will not get home until 10pm; where is the time to visit hospitals? This gesture has helped a great deal. Many of us are always on duty but we have received enough education on malaria as well as its prevention and treatment,” said Mrs. Yare Aminat.

“It is a job well done because we never expected such a thing. Our job is so cumbersome but today, we have received a helping hand from the organisations. It is a privilege to have them in our midst. I am sure the various items they have given us will be effective,” said Simeon.

In a chat with Vanguard Metro, Ujomu urged various communities to avoid anything that could encourage mosquitoes to breed in their environments.

Tobacco control: ERA, FOEN laud Osun Govt
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) has commended Osun State Government for passing the bill prohibiting smoking in public places, saying such a step would reduce cases of heart-related problems in the country.

Addressing journalists in Lagos, Programme Manager, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi said the law had gone a long way to aid a smoke-free environment in the State. “We want to use this opportunity to commend the Osun State House of Assembly for the public health milestone. We are also calling on other states to emulate Osun State by passing a smoke – free legislation.

The law bans smoking in restaurants and bars, government buildings, hospitals, motor parks, public transportation, terminals, factories, private vehicles with non-smoking occupant or children below 18 and residential houses and such premises where children are cared for,” he said.

Overloading, overspeeding cause of accidents
The overloading and overspeeding  of vehicles on Lagos roads  have been blamed for most of the  road  accidents  occurring  within the state.

This was the position of the Vehicle Inspection Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation during its 2009 Safety Campaign Week.

The Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer Eng. Abdulhafiz Gbolahan Toriola  in a press release  made available to  Vanguard Metro  stated that  in order to ensure adequate  safety  on Lagos roads,  drivers  are required to regularly maintain their  vehicles so as to  make them road worthy.

The same he said applies to motorcyclists, who he warned, should stop  overloading and over-speeding  while using the roads.


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