*The day I regained my sight, after 20 years, I burst into tears – Beneficiary
By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
For 20 years, Yusuf N. Shonga was blind. And for 20 years, he never gave up seeking cure, although at some point he almost gave up hope but he might ever see again. In came the Kwara State Community Health Insurance Scheme.
“Ironically, I was initially hesitant when told of the scheme. Some people even dissuaded me from coming to the hospital, saying the doctors would use their knives to worsen my condition. But the nurses here persisted in their efforts to convince me and that persistence eventually paid off and I went for the surgical operation and miraculously I regained my sight,” he said.
One of the major thrusts of Governor Bukola Saraki’s administration in the state is the provision of quality and affordable healthcare for the people.
Done in partnership with Hygeia of Netherlands, the scheme offers a comprehensive healthcare delivery to the people all year round at the payment of a token N300 per annum. It was the first of its kind anywhere in Nigeria. . The pilot of this novel health insurance scheme was launched in Shonga, a rural community in Edu local government area.
The scheme had since been replicated in Patigi and Asa local government areas of the State. Plans are on to spread it across the 16 local government areas in the State.
Asked his first reaction when he opened his eyes and found out he could now see, Yusuf Shonga in an emotion- laden voice said: “The first day I regained my sight, I burst into tears. I had been living in darkness for about 20 years; I never knew I could ever see again.
“I knelt down immediately to thank the Almighty God for the miracle he brought to my life. Can you believe that all it cost me was N300? I thank Governor Saraki for making it possible for poor people like me to enjoy this wonderful healthcare delivery.”
Another beneficiary, Adamu Ndanusa said he had been blind for five years before he underwent a successful eye surgery at the health centre. “Before then, I had visited many places for medical attention to no avail. Today, I can see clearly. I am grateful to the state government and thankful to God. I paid only N300 for the surgery and treatment”.
Mallam Jubril Gana, 45, who was battling hernia, had initially resorted to unorthodox medical treatment, until he was persuaded to take a chance at the health centre. He did and today he is alive and very happy to tell the world his story.
“It is indeed a miracle. I could have died out of ignorance. The hernia was at advanced stage. Since I was operated upon, the ailment has disappeared. I’m grateful to God and Saraki’s government for its assistance”, he said. Gogo Mohammed, a 65 year old grandmother is another beneficiary who regained her sight through the scheme after being blind for 2 years.
“I was treated here at the Shonga Health Centre after paying N300 for the scheme. Now, I can see clearly. We got to know about the scheme through the Emir of Shonga and the state government. We have benefitted immensely from the scheme”, she said, adding that she only pays occasional visits for check_up at the health centre.
The Chief Nursing Officer of the Centre, Alhaji Suleiman Yusuf in his reaction, commended the role of the traditional rulers in mobilizing the people of the community to enjoy the rare benefits the scheme offers them.
He described many of the beneficiaries beaming with joy and happiness now as reluctant draftees. Said he: “the traditional rulers are the ones mobilizing the people. The medical team and representatives of the Emir move from village to village in sensitizing the people on the need to patronize the hospital”.
Alhaji Yusuf added that the villagers have wholeheartedly embraced the scheme as they can see the advantages inherent in it.