By Vincent Ujumadu
THERE was excitement in Awka, the Anambra State capital recently when indigenes of the town resident in the United States of America and Canada carried out a five-day free health care programme for sick persons in all villages in the town as part of their think home projects for their people.
The exercise, under the Awka Union USA and Canada International Medical Mission, took place in five strategic locations in the town, with an estimated 3000 indigents benefitting.
Difficult cases were referred to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital at cost borne by the health mission. President General, Awka Union in Diaspora, Mr. Henry Okwuchukwu Onwumbiko, said the Union received assistance from the USA for some of the drugs while members also contributed. The Union brought five medical doctors, a nurse, lawyer and physical-therapist and engaged the services of 10 medical doctors, 20 nurses, 10 pharmacists and other support staff.
A member of the team, Dr. Anthony Nwobum noted: “Our main target is to reach people who have limited access to healthcare because they do not have the resources due to their low income. “Most of us had come home in the past to discover that their relations were dying at home because they lacked the resources to go to hospital for treatment. We therefore met and took the decision that we should be visiting home on regular basis to assist our people.”
“From what we have seen, our people are in dire need of regular medical check- up and this is one of the messages we would take back to the USA and Canada so that colleagues who did not come back with us would appreciate the problems our people are facing at home.
Another member of the union, Dr. Titi Uyawune expressed happiness at the opportunity provided by the exercise for her to be part of the team offering free health care services to her people, adding that she would always look forward for the annual event despite the cost implications.
“If not for anything, this exciting programme is enough incentive to make someone to come back to Nigeria on a regular basis. In fact I consider it a big privilege to visit all the villages in Awka and come face to face with their problems. From what we discovered, most of the ailments can be treated routinely, but because of lack of resources, they live with the sicknesses at home, thereby worsening their health conditions,” Dr Uyanwune said.
Some of the patients who spoke during the exercise commended the team for remembering their root, and pleaded with them to come home regularly. Mrs. Evelyn Okeke, who said he was suffering from diabetes expressed satisfaction with the caring nature of the doctors and other health professionals and urged them to keep it up.
Mr. Damian Nwafor from Umuzocha village said the decision of the team to carry out the exercise in all the villages in Awka made it easy for the sick people to benefit as they did not have to walk a long distance to the venue of the treatment.
All things being equal, the expectation is that the medical team with carry out another exercise by the end of the year.