– By Patrick Ochei

Stakeholders within and outside Issele-Uku community in Aniocha North LGA of Delta State, have commended the efforts of Issele Association of North America (IANA) for sponsoring the three-day Medical Mission in the community with a view to helping rural dwellers tackle the challenge of inaccessibility to proper healthcare, while also appreciating the Anioma Medical Professionals Forum (AMPF) for making themselves available as channels through which the Medical outreach was carried out.

Speaking to journalists during the Day Two of the Issele-Uku Medical Outreach, the National President of IANA, Mr. Matthew Azuh who came in from America purposely for the programme, affirmed that the stress of putting together such a monumental health initiative was worth it.

He said before now, IANA was engaged in several other projects like digging of Wells for public schools, distribution of school materials to students and teachers alike and other beneficial programmes for the Issele Communities, maintaining however, that the idea of embarking on Medical Missions was conceived when he was elected as IANA National President in 2018.

According to the IANA National President, “When we saw the impact of this medical mission first in 2018, we were convinced that this was the kind of humanitarian project needed by our people at home. In the larger body of Issele Association of North America, there is an established Board comprising of Chapter Presidents where decisions are made on projects to execute in our communities for the year, beginning with a new administration.

“I as President was inaugurated in 2018, and upon my assumption of office, I reconstituted the Board. The Board usually comes up with project ideas and this is one of such we had decided to continue on, in addition to other projects we have on the horizon.

“This project of Medical Mission was initiated in 2018, and we had thought it had served a big community back here at the Isseles and the benefit obviously regarding health is something insurmountable that we thought we should continue. Hence the reason we continued the project.

“I am impressed at the turnout of patients, it goes to challenge us on targets we should always look out for. For the first day of the Medical programme, six surgeries was successfully carried out; today we are hoping of doing eight to nine. Those are surgeries, there are about 400 general patients with other health needs that had already been attended to and there are still more targeted to be attended to.

“We have seen the benefit of this medical mission to our people which cuts across various homes, rich and poor. We absolutely intended to continue it even after my tenure. Illnesses in most cases don’t have social strata or social limitations; we have seen the significant impact. The intention is to continue with it, perhaps extending beyond the current geographical regions.

“I am also impressed that our people appreciate the effort we are making to bring this project to bear, though the word has not been magnified enough. I was moved seeing the direct recipients commending and praying for us, it gives us courage that our communities are appreciative of our effort.

“Let me assure you that we will continue to synergize with our King, Agbogidi Obi Nduka and others on what needs to be done towards the growth and development of our Issele communities. A lot needs to be addressed and our Traditional Ruler being a progressive Royalty, we will not allow him to be the only one catering to the needs of the people. He is an important channel to continue to utilise in executing our projects to residents of Issele Communities and by extension other regions of Anioma”, Azuh affirmed.

Speaking also was another member of IANA and Pharmacist based in Denver, USA, Pharm. Ngozi Azuh who equally came to supervise the ongoing project.

He started by commending the Anioma Medical Professionals whom he said made it possible for IANA to execute the medical mission project, adding that without them IANA couldn’t have done anything.

His words, “We try to do things that will benefit our people and of course, one of such is this medical mission. It is our hope to be able to do this at least once every other year, pending when we will be able to grow the medical mission in such a way that other NGOs can come in to support.

“As you can see, the need for medical attention by our people is enormous. Unfortunately, our country Nigeria has not been able to develop medical infrastructure that the citizens can reasonably rely on. Our hope is that with the Covid-19 experience, our leaders in power will begin to pay more attention to the medical infrastructure for the overall good of the citizens.

“My advice to our people is to be proactive when it comes to their health. One of the important aspects of medicine is preventive medicine. It is the best and cheapest way to go in medicine. Economically, it makes sense to be on preventive measure in managing a medical issue. So, I advise that as soon as a sympom is noticed, go see a doctor; and when you are placed on medication, stay on the medication for your own good. On our part, we will continue to do our best in growing this medical mission to meet up with the health needs of our people”, Ngozi Azuh posited.

It is also imperative to know that the Board Chairman responsible for the resuscitation and management of Pilgrim Baptist Hospital Issele-Uku, Prince Ibe Ozoma is equally a member of IANA. He facilitated the hosting of the Medical Mission at the Pilgrim Baptist Hospital while also ensuring proper coordination of the programme.

He was busy working to ensure everything went smoothly as planned. He said he was happy the programme was largely a success and tipped to continue to do his best in conjunction with good spirited groups and individuals to develop our community.

On his part as the Founder and President of Anioma Medical Professionals Forum, Dr. Awunor Alexander Chidubem lauded the effort of IANA in bringing such huge medical project to their people all the way from America.

He said this is the biggest medical mission he and the AMPF team had handled in recent time, insisting this is the type of humanitarian service most NGOs and well to do Associations should emulate.

Awunor averred that IANA Medical Outreaches had always been the biggest he had had to handle because of their geographical location and resource spread.

He confirmed that the first of their medical outing in 2018 had so much patients but not as much as it is today in 2021.

Awunor said, “IANA Medical Missions had always been programmes that we have had to adequately prepare for. I must tell you that we really prepared for this with enough manpower. As at yesterday, we had 24 Healthcare workers on ground, including four Surgeons and seven Doctors. Today we have additional five Doctors, 12 consulting stations, five Doctors in the theatre conducting operations, Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacists at the drug section, Physiotherapy units manned by Physiotherapists and then Dentists conducting dental screening and surgeries. Everything is balanced as you can see, we are adequately prepared.

“I want to advise that government should begin to have programmes where people in rural communities that are indigent can access affordable comprehensive medicare. Yesterday alone, we had six surgeries, today, four done already and you want to ask where have these people been all along. Of course they are people living amongst us in the communities with these challenges. We have a lot of patients who want to be operated on but don’t have the means, that is why you see them coming en mass when they heard we were coming.

“However, we can’t solve all the problems in just three days. We need a regular programme where all these cases can be handled with little or nothing for the Poor rural populace who can’t afford the cost of treatment. And it is only government that can muster such financial energy to sponsor such free programmes if they so wished. This programme can be on ground at anytime where people with health needs can access and be attended to whenever, especially when it is proven that they can’t afford it.

“I am really bothered when I see huge health challenges that ordinarily should be affordable if there are adequate health facilities and conducive health governance system in place. It is also burdensome that few patriotic health personnel on ground are overwhelmed and overstretched. It is a welcome development that some of us are leaving the shores of this country to seek greener pastures abroad; however, for those of us here, we will continue to contribute our quota towards delivering health services to our people. I am not against travelling abroad for better working environment, but when you do, also remember to give back to your people at home.

“Majority of members of IANA took that decision years back, but today, they have decided to return home to help their helpless and less privileged people. In the end, it doesn’t matter where you are or working, what matters is the heart to support humanity. Those of us here can connect with those abroad to contribute to community efforts for growth and development. It’s a symbiotic relationship that we must encourage to work”, Awunor stressed.

During the programme, eminent personalities within and outside Issele-Uku like Comrade Kingsley Azuh, SSA to Delta State Governor on Special Duties, Chief Brian Onyekali Odiakosa, the Nwadialor of Idumuje Kingdom and others came to show solidarity and commend IANA and AMPF for the great humanitarian services they are rendering to the people.

At the round-off of the programme, the Medical Team of AMPF was hosted by the Traditional Ruler of Issele-Uku Kingdom, HRM Agbogidi Obi Nduka, where the IANA National President and Obi Nduka on behalf of Issele-Uku Kingdom, presented a Special Award of Excellence for Humanitarian Services to Dr. Awunor Alexander Chidubem, Founder of Anioma Medical Professionals Forum.

In the same vein, award of participation was presented to all the medical experts that took part in the Medical Mission under the aegis of AMPF.

Agbogidi Nduka commended the Issele Association of North America for their kind gestures towards their people by engaging them in medical charity, adding that their humanitarian and community effort will not be forgotten in the history of Issele-Uku.

He also appreciated the Anioma Medical Professionals Forum for the vision of the group which has become blessing not only to Anioma Nation but humanity at large.

He thanked them for making their time, energy and intellectual resource available to salvage the health challenges of the people at this critical time when medical personnel are demoralised to work. He admonished them not to be deterred in doing good, adding that God has placed them in a position to save lives first before He as God can take over.

Moreover, at the end of the three-day Medical Mission, a total of 749 general patients were attended to, 37 surgical procedures carried out (14 Herniorrhaphy, 2 Appendectomy, 3 Excision Biopsy, 18 Dental Surgical Procedures) and all were successful.

Having concluded the IANA Medical Mission in Issele-Uku, the next pot of call for the team is the remaining two Issele Communities – Issele-Mkpitime and Issele-Azagba.

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