Large turnout of residents to a free medical outreach at Karamajiji community, FCT, Abuja, has exposed the poor primary healthcare system in the community, residents say.
They also stressed the need to improve the system in rural areas.
The outreach was organised by the West African College of Physicians (WACP), Nigeria Chapter, as the society’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and part of activities to mark the 44th/45th annual general and scientific meeting.
The 500 residents of the community, located on the Airport Road, Abuja, had been targeted to benefit from the outreach.
However, 750 individuals; 308 males (41.1%) and 442 females (58.9%), turned out for the exercise.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), some of the beneficiaries described the exercise as timely for many residents as financial constraints made access to services at the primary healthcare facility difficult.
Mr. Abubakar Mustapha, an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) from Maiduguri, and a beneficiary of the exercise, while showing appreciation to the WACP, said that the exercise was timely for members of the community.
Mustapha said that most residents of the community did not have the resources to afford the healthcare services at the primary healthcare centre or to pay for medicines prescribed by the centre.
The free exercise was an opportunity for residents to access the medical assistance required without fear of financial capability and also have access to quality medicines.
“I am here because of my health condition and my daughter to get medication from this free medical exercise.
“I am an internally displaced person from North East, from Maiduguri, Borno state.
“It is not only me that benefitted from this exercise, but many of my people who are also displaced.
“I see over 200 of them here and I know them. They all benefitted and more are still coming.
“My daughter did not sleep throughout last night because of the environment we are. They have told me what is wrong with me and my daughter and gave us medication.
“This morning I was on my way to the primary health care centre to at least get some medicine not for me but my daughter; I know for me I can just take something that will give me relief to get better.
“But now my daughter has got her medication and I have also got my medication. I thank the organisers, this is a very wonderful support.”
Mrs. Aisha Zakari, a housewife and beneficiary of the free exercise, said that she turned out for the exercise to enable her and two of her children to receive medical assistance.
“I am here to check my health condition because since yesterday I have been in bed and suffering from lower abdominal pain and back pain, I feel unwell.
“I also have two children who have not been feeling well.
“When I heard that a free medical outreach will be carried out here and medicines will be given as well, I decided to bring my children and myself to get the medical assistance we need.
“I am happy with this development because most times we do not have the resources to afford the medicines given to us by the health centre.
“Sometimes when we have money and we go to the healthcare centre the money can only buy some of the medicines prescribed and so we are only given the medicines we can afford.
“We return home with incomplete medicines to treat our ailment and sometimes we get well but other times we do not get better.
“This free medical outreach is a welcome development and we are sure that the medicines are original and safe for us to take.
“I have benefitted from three other medical outreaches to this community and anytime we hear that this type of exercise is going to take place we ensure we come quickly to get treated.”
Prof. Aboi Madaki, the WACP National Chairman, said that the outreach was organised to address the health needs of the people for both infectious and non-infectious diseases.
“What you have seen here is a well-organised, systematic, and structured outreach where you see the population in need of service; the men, women, and children.
“We also have the leadership of the community here.
“We visited some pharmaceutical companies that gave us some drugs, and hospitals such as the National Hospital, Abuja, gave us an ambulance and drugs.
“Some individuals have supported us with medical tools which we are using for this exercise.
“When we came in, we were told that 500 persons have been given numbers to see us.
“The services we are providing include health talk that addresses common problems as malaria, nutrition, personal hygiene, oral hygiene, and immunisation.
“We have set up different stations to screen, check people’s blood pressure, weight, height, and carry out some quick rapid diagnostic tests.
“We have opened a temporary pharmacy here and equipped it with medicines that can address hypertension, nutritional problems, malaria, worms, and vitamins to help those with a deficiency.
“We have seen people with hypertension, we have also seen a few with diabetes which we have provided health education and referred.
“We are also seeing people with skin conditions, those that are suffering from anxiety, and underweight children.”
Earlier, His Royal Highness, Dauda Dogo, the Village Head of Karubiyi, called on the Federal Government, private institutions, and individuals to engage the community in more outreaches and help improve the primary healthcare facility.
The traditional ruler, who was also a beneficiary of the free medical outreach, made the call when members of the WACP paid a courtesy visit to him at his palace before the commencement of the exercise.
“We have a primary healthcare facility but it is not enough.
“As you can see not every community member can afford to take even three square meals a day not to talk of going to the hospital and affording drugs.”
According to statistics made available to NAN by the WACP, 99 of the beneficiaries are between the ages of zero to five years; 195 are between the ages of six to 11 years, 120 between 12 – 17 years, and 336 of the beneficiaries are 18 years and above.
Some of the health conditions diagnosed during the exercise include malaria, acute respiratory infection, osteoarthritis, eye conditions, diarrhoea, enteric fever, bronchial asthma, infertility, chickenpox, and lumbar spondylosis.
The WACP is a professional body for medical specialists within the West African Sub-Region.
The medical specialists include doctors, physicians, and nurses.