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May 25, 2023

How Emmanuel Osemota Foundation medical outreach is complementing govts’ efforts

How Emmanuel Osemota Foundation medical outreach is complementing govts’ efforts

By Agbonkhese Oboh

Delivering effective healthcare solutions to underserved communities in developing nations is a complex endeavour. Coordinating with governments, developing practical strategies, and establishing meaningful connections with community leaders are just a few of the challenges faced by those who seek to provide medical care to impoverished populations.

However, for nearly two decades, the Emmanuel Osemota Foundation (EOF) has been tackling pressing medical disparities in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions—Edo State, Nigeria—using grassroots tactics.

As a non-governmental organisation (NGO) registered in both the United States and Nigeria, EOF has successfully implemented outcome-oriented strategies to promote healthy living, combat diseases, and establish meaningful relationships with low-income communities, which crave authentic communication.

At the helm of EOF is the founder Emmanuel Osemota, a US-based Nigerian epidemiologist who works at the intersection of medical outreach, human trafficking prevention, and community engagement. With his expertise in epidemiology, Osemota combines practical insights with interpersonal skills to deliver empathetic and impactful on-the-ground strategies that protect young children, invest in their potential, and foster long-term empowerment among vulnerable populations.

“A troubling lack of access to reliable healthcare lies at the core of numerous social issues,” says Osemota.

“Even when medical treatment is available, ineffective communication strategies often prevent at-risk individuals from seeking the help they need. By focusing on the connection between outreach and access, our aim is to provide sustainable solutions that empower a new generation of resilient Nigerians.”

To gain a deeper understanding of the EOF’s approach to medical outreach, let’s explore Osemota’s perspective on Nigeria’s health systems, their collaboration with NGOs, and how the organisation directly delivers high-quality care to those in need.

The State of Health Systems in Nigeria
While Nigeria has made progress in various aspects of development, its healthcare systems are undeniably inadequate, especially considering the country’s continuously growing population.

The healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria is among the weakest in Africa by several measures. Insufficient modern medical facilities hamper the country’s ability to keep up with the exponential birth rate.

Furthermore, the shortage of medical professionals exacerbates the situation.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria needs approximately 237,000 doctors to effectively serve its population. Currently, there are only 35,000 doctors working in the country.

These challenges are compounded by inadequate surveillance health systems, which are crucial for tracking, containing, and preventing the spread of diseases. The scarcity of modern medical facilities and a limited supply of medical professionals hinder the development of robust disease surveillance programs.

Given these systemic weaknesses, organisations aiming to provide assistance struggle to distribute resources effectively and establish sustainable aid programs. The EOF recognises this foundational problem and tailors its strategies accordingly.

Complementing existing health systems in Nigeria
The core mission of the EOF is simple: empowering communities to be self-sufficient by addressing their basic needs at an individual level.

To achieve this goal, the EOF actively seeks to synergize with existing leaders in target regions. Local leaders possess an intimate understanding of their communities, and Osemota and his team fully embrace and leverage this knowledge in every outreach programme.

Close collaboration with influential community members also involves working closely with those who have insights into the existing health systems within the community. As an epidemiologist himself, Osemota shares a common ground of knowledge that facilitates collaboration with medical leaders.

“We are not here to dictate or coerce people into accepting help they are not ready for,” explains Osemota. “As self-sufficiency is a critical pillar of our work, we believe it is essential for the people we assist to understand what we provide and why. Earning their trust involves working with existing health systems, not against them.”

For instance, the EOF always seeks permission from community leaders before offering free medical outreach programs. By obtaining their consent and endorsement, the EOF team can deliver care in a trustworthy manner, contrasting with organizations that provide assistance without community collaboration.

Complementing existing health systems ensures the success of the EOF’s medical outreach efforts, both on a daily basis and in the bigger picture.

Role of NGOs
NGOs play a vital role in delivering healthcare and education across African countries. In an ideal scenario, governments would be fully capable of providing these programs themselves. However, regardless of the underlying reasons, people still need access to these resources.

Moreover, the scope of NGOs is expanding. Between 1997 and 2006, the nonprofit sector in South Africa experienced a 400% growth. Funding for these programs continues to pour in, highlighting the increasing reliance of Africans on NGOs to meet their basic needs.

“While we are a proud NGO with support from around the world, we also strive to balance outside resources with collaboration with government leaders in our target regions in Nigeria,” states Osemota.

“Walking this fine line is challenging, but we witness firsthand the impact that sanitary pads, vaccines, and medicines have on the lives of real people.”

A look back at Emmanuel Osemota Foundation in 2022
The year 2022 was significant for the EOF, marked by one of the organisation’s largest outreach events to date.

On September 24th, the EOF team set up a mini medical clinic in the town hall of Okabere, Ikpoba Okha LGA, Edo State, Nigeria, offering free medical services to all who could attend.

As with any medical outreach event, the EOF obtained permission from community leaders, specifically The Okhiaghele, to proceed with the services. Given the scarcity of medical equipment in Nigeria, special attention was paid to transporting the necessary technology to the town hall, ensuring its safe operation, and maximising its utilisation.

The setup included a nurses’ station, a mini lab, an optometrist station, a dental station, medical doctors’ stations, and a pharmacy station. All participants received health education talks from Dr. Ochuko Onovae, underwent testing programs and data collection for key diseases, and received general health screenings.

Within a few hours, over 200 community members attended the event, more than 40 conditions were diagnosed, and over 100 prescriptions were distributed. The coordination and collaboration involved in this on-the-ground initiative exemplify the EOF’s progress within the NGO community.

By prioritizing self-sufficiency, Osemota and his team successfully build authentic and trustworthy relationships.

Moving forward with the Foundation
The EOF has numerous medical outreach initiatives in the pipeline. In addition to delivering tangible healthcare services, the organization plans to expand its efforts in health education, sex trafficking prevention, and academic scholarship distribution aimed at increasing the availability of Nigerian doctors.

“We view nonprofit work as a holistic strategy, and healthcare serves as a pillar of quality of life. By developing a compassionate and people-first approach to medical outreach and healthcare equality, I am confident that we are making strides in safeguarding the potential of the rising generation of Nigerians,” concludes Osemota.

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