Abiodun’s health care palliative for poor, vulnerable indigenes, saving lives

One disturbing news coming from various parts of the world is the economic recession that has greatly affected the lifestyle of millions of people. As part of the global community, Nigeria and her citizens are not exempted as they are currently going through perhaps, the worst hardship since independence.

The situation is so bad that families are finding it extremely hard to provide for their loved ones. The regrettable aspect of the whole thing is that life is getting harder and harder by the day and the people are groaning under the yoke of difficulties.

One interesting thing that Nigerians should be happy and look forward to is the fact that governments at different levels, be it federal, State, or local, are concerned and are taking steps to bring relief to the people.

For any government worth its name, the welfare of the people should always remain its primary concern. A government that relegates the well-being of its people to the background, even if it succeeds in every other area of governance, is deemed a failure.

The 1999 Constitution, section 14, subsection 2, gives credence to this when it expressly states that, “security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America, once said: “If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists -to protect and promote their welfare – all else is lost.”

In Ogun State, for instance, Governor Dapo Abiodun is a firm believer that the whole essence of being in government is to serve the people. He has demonstrated this not only in words but in actions. A cursory look at his administration’s policies and programmes shows that they are tailored toward the welfare and well-being of the people.

Just recently, precisely on Wednesday, the 21st of February, 2024, the governor called for a meeting of stakeholders in Abeokuta where traditional rulers, community leaders, market men and women, trade unions, artisans, student bodies, and even uninvited members of the public were in attendance.

At the meeting, Abiodun announced that his administration would offer free medical surgery to the poor and vulnerable as part of palliatives aimed at ameliorating the hardship people are currently facing. The announcement took many by surprise. “Ko sele ri”, some said, while to others, it was one of the rhetorics they often hear from Nigerian politicians. To them, the announcement does not make any difference as they have heard several of such unfulfilled promises since the advent of the current democracy.

But to the surprise of everyone, including his friends and foes, the intervention programme took off in earnest on Monday, the 26 of February 2024, five days after the announcement, with the registration of patients taking place in all government-owned State and general hospitals across the State.

To ensure that the Free Surgery programme achieved its desired object, the state government mobilized not only manpower but also made available adequate material resources needed to cater to the expected large number of people who would want to take advantage of the governor’s gesture,

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Rotimi Ogungbe who was on the ground to witness the first surgery performed on a patient under the free surgery programme at the State Hospital, Ilaro, said the programme is the brainchild of the governor and it is meant to bring relief to people with medical challenges that needed a surgical operation.

The services rendered under the programme, Dr. Ogungbe highlighted include, preoperative, operative, and post-operative, which is unprecedented in the history of this state. The free surgery programme covers all operations, including orthopedics, gynecology, obstetrics, and others.”

The special adviser applauded the state government for making available medical equipment and other surgical resources, noting that medical personnel has been fully mobilized to make the programme a success.

Collaborating with his colleague, another Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Tayo Lawal, who monitored the free surgery exercise at the Ijebu-Ode State Hospital noted that everyone registered to undertake the free surgery, would have their turn.

Throwing more light into the programme, the Executive Secretary, Ogun State Health Insurance Agency, Dr. Afolabi Dosunmu who also supervised the programme, said the intervention was a mandate given by Governor Abiodun to provide succour to the people at this difficult time.

Dr. Dosunmu said: “The modalities are very simple. As long as you are a resident of the State, as long as you have one surgical need or the other, you are free to walk into any of our State or General Hospital and register for the free surgery

“The doctors there will assess you, if it is a case that is ready for surgery, and once all other perimeters have been concluded, we will get the surgery done.”

He said those whose cases are not ready for immediate surgery, would be enrolled for them to have access to the intervention when they are ready.

He added: “It is possible for someone to have, for example, a cataract, and the cataract is not yet matured, we will still enroll the person. We will give the person a date for when the cataract is going to mature.

“For example, if you want to remove fibroid when you see the doctor and the doctor says your electrolyte is a bit high or your blood pressure is a little bit high, it needs to be controlled before you can be taken in for surgery.”

The Chief Medical Director, State Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta, Dr. Bababunmi Osinaike, speaking on the progress of the intervention in his hospital, said it has been seamless as a large number of people have been registered and operations have also commenced.

Listing the types of illnesses that qualify under the programme, the Chief Medical Director said: “All medical conditions that require an operation. Some of them are Orthopedic and Ophthalmic. There are also general surgery cases like hernia, undescended testicles, excision of breast lump, lipomas and gynaecology cases like fibroid and thyroid are been handled under the intervention programme.”

Head of Clinical Services, the unit carrying out the surgical operations, at the State Hospital, Ijaye, Dr. Samuel Tolulope, said the free surgery programme has attracted a huge turnout of patients, and it has been hitch-free with no death recorded.

The Chief Medical Director, State Hospital, Ijebu-Ode, Dr Adeoye Banjo, on his part, thanked the Ogun State helmsman for the opportunity given to the less privileged to have access to free healthcare. According to him, the hospital is fully prepared to ensure that all registered beneficiaries are attended to.

For the beneficiaries of the Intervention Programme, the medical palliative could not have come at any other time but now that the economic situation has made life difficult for an average Nigerian. For them, the governor is a “God sent”, as his gesture has given them another opportunity to live.

Mr. Owolabi Soretire, a resident of Abeokuta who was operated on lumps in the hand, elbow, and head said: As soon as I saw the advert on the Net, I quickly ran down to the State Hospital, met with nurses and doctors who registered, carry out the necessary tests on me free of charge and today, they successfully carried out the operation. I want to appreciate God and our amiable governor for this free surgery.”

Mr. Sunday Alayade, who was operated on a hernia, was moved to tears as he showered praises on God and Governor Abiodun for allowing him to benefit from the programme, saying with the operation done, his health would return to normal.

“I have been suffering from this sickness for long. I have visited a lot of hospitals but their charges were always very exorbitant which I could not afford. Because of lack of money to do the operation, I have given up hope and decided to die with the sickness when death comes.”

Mrs. Arinola Adenuga, whose six years old son was operated on at the State Hospital, Ijebu-Ode, says her happiness knows no bounds for the opportunity given to them by Governor Abiodun, saying that the burden of raising funds for the treatment of her son had been taken care of by the programme.

Others who were operated on for hernia included 20-year-old Okuwobi Ayomide, 18-year-old Onaleye Solomon, and 13-year-old Olusola Abdulquazeem. They all appreciated Governor Abiodun for the generosity extended to them.

They lauded the governor for impacting directly on their lives. “Everything is free from the moment we walk in and get enrolled, screened, and do tests as well as the surgery. Some of us are even given free drugs after surgery,” they admitted.

Yes, the government can build roads, houses, schools, and bridges, amongst other critical infrastructure, but all these would be meaningless if the health of the people is in jeopardy.

Governor Abiodun knows that the Gateway State would achieve more if the people were healthy and he is working round the clock to give them healthy palliative just as he is equally working round the clock to give stomach palliative knowing fully well that only a living and healthy man or woman, can have appetite to eat.

Udofia writes from Oke-Mosan Abeokuta.

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