After surviving gunshots that nearly sent him to an early grave in 2010, Dr. Kunle Megbuwawon floated Project Gray, a charity that provides free health outreach for the elderly. Funke Olaode reports
He was gasping for breath under an electricity pole in Anthony area of Lagos that evening of 2010. His luggage had been snatched earlier by dare-devil armed robbers who also pumped bullets into his neck. His co-commuters had taken to their heels and he was left alone to fight for his life. Blood was gushing out and his life seemed to be gradually coming to an end. But he was hopeful. Alas! Help came his way through a driver who had just closed for the day.
Being a medical doctor himself, he told the Good Samaritan, if I can get to the hospital I would survive. For the next one month, Megbuwawon fought for his life at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. His life was not only restored, he did not pay a dime for his treatment. He didn’t forget that lifesaving gesture as he vowed to give back to society. In 2014, he floated a non-governmental organization tagged Project Gray, an Orange Health initiative that provides subsidized medical care for persons above 60.
“I thought I was going to die. I had about 50,000 Naira with me they didn’t take it. I had a new iPhone with me but nothing mattered to me because I was facing death. I made a vow that if I could survive it I was going to give back. I brought out my Insurance card and called the HMO and immediately they got in touch with LUTH. I was favoured as I was taken to the private emergency where so many investigations were carried out. The next day I had blood transfusion and surgery. I survived it. I spent one month in LUTH and didn’t pay a dime. I told myself I am going to give back my time, my talent, my resources and my network to assist those who cannot afford medi-care.”
For the next four years, the Ondo State born family physician kept the project under wrap. But in 2014 with the support of a like-minded person and his former boss, Dr. Segun Ogundimu, he registered Orange Health Limited a non-governmental organization that looks into the health care of Nigerians especially the vulnerable and the elderly in the society having realized that they need health care insurance but are not insured.
The first exercise carried out in 2014 in Mushin area catered for over 1,500 elderly. In 2015, the elderly in Igbobi and its environs also benefited from this kind gesture.
Between January 26-28, 2017, Mecure Healthcare Limited in partnership with Orange Health Initiative held its Project Gray free health outreach for the elderly people with a theme: Save Our Sight”. The event held at the open field of Ifako football in Ifako-Ijaye, Agege, Lagos saw over 600 elderly in attendance.
On while “Save Our Sight” was chosen as this year’s theme, Megbuwawon said though his team is using save our sight as a point to care for the elderly, they also observed that not all of them have eye problem but they have decided to do a comprehensive medical screening to find out what is going on in the body for them. “We did screening for about 10 of them last week and the result is ready. It contains 60 investigations. You know our body is like the iceberg you can also see the tip. Cancer did not start in a day and because there is no symptoms we believe all is well. We conducted 60 investigation covering the heart, kidney, liver, metabolic syndrome, hypertension profile, diabetes profile, nutritional wellness and critical life parameters. We will print out their result and give it to them. And because they cannot interpret the result they will need a doctor.
Our target is to treat over 10,000 elderly in Lagos.
Commenting on Megbuwawon’s effort in taking care of the elderly in Lagos State, Chief Medical Director of Mecure Healthcare Limited, Dr. Bolaji Akinrimisi said her institution is partnering with Project Gray as part of its corporate social responsibility. It is a common knowledge that health care is very expensive, Akinriminsi used the opportunity to call individuals organization and philanthropists to be partners in taking care of the elders.
Praising the initiation of the project, one of the beneficiaries, Mr. Samuel Olalere Ojo said it was a great relief for somebody like him with eyes challenge.
Mrs. Comfort Ajose who was initially skeptical, she said the programme is real. “I came for the various test and the result was handed over to me. I did eye test and a pair of glasses was given to me free of charge. I am very grateful to the initiator of this programme.