As Lagos government commences an all round free medical mission across the state to reduce various health conditions, not less than 60,000 persons have so far benefited from the gesture. Martins Ifijeh reports
It is no longer news that the economic situation in the country has forced most poor Nigerians to avoid accessing healthcare due to the increase in cost of service. But the Lagos State Government through its Eko Health Mission Programme is determined to change the narrative. It is taking free healthcare provision straight to homes of Lagosians, especially the poor ones who are unable to afford it.
The mission, which started March 1st and will end June 8 has so far reached not less than 60,000 residents from seven Local Government Areas and 12 Local Council Development Areas, comprising Ojo, Oto-Awori, Iba, Badagry, Badagry-West, Olorunda, Oshodi, Isolo, Ejigbo, Amuwo-Odofin, Oriade, Ajeromi, Ifelodun, Apapa, Iganmu, Ikeja, Onigbongbo and Ojodu.
The residents have so far been screened and managed for non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, common ailments, eye diseases and dental problems, among others. The programme also offered antenatal care services as well as family planning services to persons of reproductive age. HIV screening and counseling sessions were part of the health package.
Speaking at the official flag off ceremony of the on-going health mission Tuesday, the state Governor, AkinwunmiAmbode said by June 8th, the exercise would have reached residents across the 20 Local Governments Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas of the state.
He said the Mission was in furtherance of his administration’s objective to take healthcare to the grassroots and underserved areas in the state.
Ambode who was represented by his deputy, Dr. IdiatOluranti Adebule, explained that the programme was introduced as a strategic initiative and comprehensive medical outreach programme to complement the established healthcare system in the Lagos for the attainment of sustainable development goals.
He added that the health mission programme will avail residents the opportunity of being screened and managed for non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, common ailments, eye diseases and dental problems.
“I would like to enjoin all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to know their health status and receive treatment from our team of qualified medical personnel. These experts are equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to provide the appropriate care you need by applying global best practices, ensuring equality and professionalism at all points of contact,” the governor said.
Ambode while commending members of the Health Mission team for their commitment to the success of the initiative, noted that it was gratifying that beneficiaries of the programme include elderly, pregnant women and people living with disabilities.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, while speaking on the importance of the programme noted that the state government was continuously finding ways to improve the health status of its ever-increasing population adding that the plan for achieving this was based on the Health Policy Thrust of the state which is guided by the noble goal that every Lagosian enjoys unfettered access to qualitative healthcare without any barrier whatsoever.
Idris disclosed that the strategies adopted in implementing these policies includes the introduction and provision of various programmes that have direct impact on the health outcome of Lagosians stressing that these programmes are geared towards promoting health, detecting diseases early and offering treatment and rehabilitation.
He posited that the overarching goal now is ensuring that residents have access to Universal Health Coverage adding that the Ministry of Health is working tirelessly to develop and implement strategies, programmes, interventions and initiatives to improve the health outcome of all Lagosians.
“One of these interventions is the Eko Health Mission, which the state government has used over the years to complement health service delivery in the state. This was put in place, as part of the state government’s quest to find ways to take healthcare to the grassroots and underserved areas of Lagos State, by addressing pressing health issues of the rural communities in the state,” the commissioner said.
While noting that the Health Missions were short-term interventions, Idris stated that the programme was geared towards the Strategic Development Plan of ensuring Universal Health Coverage, adding that the Missions provide services that take healthcare to the doorsteps of its citizens at no cost to the people.
“These health missions are significant because they enable this administration provide healthcare services to all who come irrespective of their age, gender, socioeconomic status and affiliations,” he added.
The commissioner while stating that services offered under the programme were provided free of charge, and will include medication for presenting complaints, eye glasses and prompt referrals to the State Health Facilities, where necessary, noted that the medical teams providing these services were competent professionals committed to ensuring that the mandate of the state government is fully realised.
Idris stated that the vision of sustainable healthcare and universal coverage demanded that the state adopted an approach that was not only efficient, but also effective in addressing the growing health demand of Lagos megacity.
Expressing appreciation to the Lagos State Government, one of the beneficiaries of the programme, Mrs. Aishat Adeleye; who was screened and managed for hypertension said that the intervention offered through the medical mission is a form of succour especially to poor residents who cannot afford the cost of accessing medical care at health facilities.
“With initial doubts in my mind, I came here after I heard about the programme from my neighbour but I was amazed at the level of coordination I saw here. I was ushered well to the section where I was attended to and got my medications at no cost,” she added.
Another beneficiary, Mr. Chidozie Onyewuchi who was seen and treated at the Dental Unit, gave kudos to the team of medical personnel who attended to him. He added that the relief that came with extraction of his tooth was awesome.
For Alhaji Niniola Muyideen; a 65-year-old beneficiary who was treated at the General Out-patient Department for complaints of body and joint aches stated that the free health services offered by the state government could not have come at a better time than now where the cost of accessing care is very high.