Taking The Lead In Mass Health Provision

18 May 2013

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The free healthcare exercise commenced on May 9, 2013 ran for three days in 70 sites across Lagos and Ogun States. The sites include community halls, hospitals and Rotary Centres.

Sponsored by Coca Cola through its foundation, The Coca Cola Foundation (TCCAF), the outreach aims to touch the lives of about 100,000 people through counselling, testing and vaccination against polio, malaria, diabetes, cholera and other communicable diseases for parents, children, grandparents, friends and family members.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Rotary Centre, Ikeja to kick off the programme, the District Governor Mr. Kamoru Omotosho noted that the Rotary family health day’s programme was about Rotarians taking the lead in a massive health campaign in line with their motto “Service Above Self.” Although the programme was initially conceived to address the critical health issues like HIV/AIDS, the project has been expanded to include other health care services to address other challenges.

According to Omotosho, “With an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria as at 2011, it became critically important for us to garner support from not only government, but corporate partners and the media to address the problem and implement our prevention control programmes.” He noted that while the programme had become a regular fixture in the club’s calendar, this year’s outreach promised to be even bigger as 900 Rotarians from 62 clubs worked with trained medical staff on the designated days to deliver services to community dwellers in 70 sites within Lagos and Ogun States.

Omotosho, while giving details into the activities marking the programme, said over the three days, testing and counseling of over 20,000 people for HIV/AIDS will take place simultaneously in two states, other services will include malaria test, cervical and breast cancer screening, diabetes and blood pressure screening, polio immunisation, de-worming, distribution of treated malaria nets and sanitary towels. The exercise, according to him, was part of Rotary’s mission geared towards improving the health conditions of Nigerian citizens through the prevention of illness and the promotion of healthy lifestyle.

To ensure sustainability of the programme, the Rotary DG further noted that there would be monitoring and evaluation template to measure the effectiveness of the programme, which Rotarians from 54 clubs working in 78 sites reach a 100,000 people across Lagos and Ogun States.

Coca-Cola reaffirmed its commitment to promoting wellness and building sustainable communities in conjunction with like-minded organisations like the Rotary Club.

“At Coca-Cola, we always seek ways to empower our communities, focusing on key areas such as water, health, education and entrepreneurship. By investing in these critical areas, we aim to expand opportunities and improve the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities,” Clem Ugorji, public affairs and communications manager, said.

While commending the effort its partners, which include the Coca Cola Company through its Coca Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the USAID Rotary. Omotosho added that they are at the service of the RFHD to ensure its success.

The District Governor-elect, Mr. Olugbemiga Olowu who gave an overview of the activities of the RFHD, said that the programme was held simultaneously in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. He further stated that the rotary club intends to take the programme to district 9125, which is the northern part of the country, also to other West African countries including Ghana.

While commending Rotary and Coca-Cola on this laudable initiative, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, stressed that community based healthcare was becoming increasingly vital to tackling the scourge of diseases in the country. He referred to the Rotary Club as mutual partners with the state government, stating that the partnership was targeted at taking health care and literacy to the citizens, starting at the community level.

“The country today is currently tasked with responsibility of improving our health rating, which has been abysmally poor in the past,” he said. “We in government appreciate initiatives like this from private organisations because it complements our efforts in this regard. The Rotary Family Health Day is an intervention that goes a long way in making preventive healthcare available to those who ordinarily can’t afford it.

“This scheme is aimed at the poorest in the community in areas of people living in rural communities whereby they pay a very small amount, either on weekly or month basis and with the support from the government, it gives them an insurance to cover basic illness, usually the package including pregnant women and children less than five years.

Basically this is a way of improving health care for the poorest of the poor and one of the major advantages is that the host community is in control of decisions of how money is spent on health care at the community level, thereby decentralising health care”, he added.
While commending the effort of the rotary and the involvement of the CDC, the associate director CDC, Mr. Scott Falo said: “We are in the same team when it comes to promoting healthy Nigeria and the way they have been able to mobilise communities to provide this kind of services is wonderful. Unfortunately, CDC is a domesticated agency with offices oversea; we don’t have near the manpower to provide the services that the rotary can, knowing that the rotary is a worldwide organisation with very worthwhile goals, which makes us want to join hands with them to provide health care services to Nigerians.”

Rotary is a global humanitarian organisation with more that 1.2million members on 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Its top priority is the global eradication of polio. RFHA was formed in 2004 for the specific purpose of mobilising Rotarian volunteers, resources and partners in support of the vulnerable children and families affected by HIV/AIDS and other diseases in developing world.

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