BY OBIOMA OGBONNAYA
It was a quite sunny Tuesday morning, Traders, men, women and children sat patiently at different tents at the Sangotedo, Ibeju Lekki market, Lagos, waiting to be profiled and directed to the appropriate medical team. The event was the Sanwo-Olu Free Medical Outreach created by the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to touch lives, and as a tool for stretching his electoral campaign. And this Tuesday morning it was the turn of the Ibeju Lekki local Government Development Council Area.
The program kicked-off at Gbaja Market, Surulere and has since extended to other local governments in the state, garnering massive turnout at different locations. At each event, the team, which comprises of ten doctors, five dentists, four optometrists, five nurses, five pharmacists and ten support volunteers attend to the crowd that had been waiting for medical attention. The market medical intervention was designed to reach out to at least one thousand people per day, while providing various services covering a range of general medical services like hypertension, diabetes, peptic ulcer disease, malaria, respiratory tract infections, and referrals to general hospitals for follow-up.
There were also dental consultations: tooth extractions, tooth filling, scaling and polishing, and hospital referrals for follow-up advanced cases. There was also eye care, which included consultations and medications, free glasses, referrals for follow up cases, while women were profiled and screened for cervical and breast cancer, and in some cases with referrals for follow up cases.
Patients are first seen at the registration stand where registration is done and biodata is collected along with contact information. They then move to the nursing station where their vital signs are measured before they are segregated depending on the services they would like to access.
Patients then proceed to the general medical, dental and eye and women’s care stand, depending on services they’ve previously indicated interest in. After consultation, they go on to get their medication at the pharmacy stand. The last station is the stand where women dedicated volunteers engage beneficiaries on their choice of a governorship candidate in Lagos, and how they should use their PVC wisely at the forthcoming elections.
Sanwo-Olu who designed the free medicare outreach as one of the tools of campaign, said that the programme is a test-run of “Our healthcare plan, which will be anchored on comprehensive health insurance scheme for Lagosians, to improve access and affordability. We will improve primary and complete many secondary health facilities. We will work with private investors as well ensure that Lagos is the health care destination for Nigerians.”
The outreach, which sees market places as strategic in terms of locations and convergence point of people living in particular location, has reported an increase in the number of people with access to the service with increasing report of High Blood Pressure, cervical issues and breast ailments at the outreach events.
According to available statistics for example, Surulere recorded a total number of 1,448 of attendees, while 1136 were treated for dental care, 120 for eye problems (free glasses and drugs), while192 were tested for cervical and breast cancer. In Ajegunle, 1560 came out, while 1124 had a general medical consultation, 200 people accessed dental service, while 56 were profiled and tested for cervical and breast cancer.
The story was similar in Ikotun as about 2916 attended the event, 1138 had general medical consultation, 442 were tested and treated for dental problem, 361 for eyes, and 161 women screened for cervical and breast cancer. In Sangotedo, Ibeju Lekki axis, the attendance was about 2011. Out of this number, 1446 accessed general medical consultation, 312 for dental care, 301 for eye related issues, while 118 were screened for cervical and breast cancer.
Alhaja Modinat Akinlolu, is not a trader at the Sangotedo market, but resides within the Ibeju Lekki axis. Clutching a nylon bag containing some medications and wearing a new recommended glass said, “I have been having this eye problem over time, but do not have the resources to see a doctor. When I heard of the Sanwo-Olu medical outreach, I told myself that this is the best opportunity to access the treatment.
“Today I was seen by a doctor who recommended a pair of the glasses for me as well as some medicines to treat this recurring malaria. I thank Sanwo-Olu for this initiative. For this singular act, he has won my heart and vote come the Election Day,” Alhaja Akinlolu promised.
Mrs. Ebele Njoku who was so happy that she defied security measures to have a selfie with Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-0lu, wife of the governorship candidate and a medical practitioner, said she had on several occasions wanted to go for cervical cancer and eye tests, but could not because of money; but with the Sanwo-Olu Care free medical outreach she could get those services.
She was happy that the cancer test was negative; but her joy knew no bound as she got free eye test and glass. As she struggled to get her selfie with Dr. Sanwo-Olu, she promised to vote for the husband. “It shows that Sanwo-Olu cares,” she said.
Dr. (Mrs.) Sanwo-Olu, also joined the medical team to see some patients disclosed that months before the election campaign started, associates and family members of the “APC Gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu launched a free medical outreach program called, Sanwo-Olu Cares. This initiative clearly depicts the value he places on the healthcare of Lagosians. It also gives a hint on how he will prioritise healthcare when he becomes governor in May 2019.
“The healthcare intervention is designed to hold in the marketplace, where you have a convergence of people of all socio-economic class. The marketplace also hosts the hardworking Lagosians who barely have time for hospital visits or cannot afford the kind of care they deserve. Again, the market is probably the most popular and most easily accessible place in any community hence, the use of market place,” she explained.
Speaking in an interview at Sangotedo Market in Ibeju Lekki, Dr. Tunde Ajayi, Team Leader of Sanwo-Olu Health Care said healthcare coverage is a problem in the Nigerian society that needs to be managed with the most cost effective and innovative approach possible.
The value of market medical outreaches, he agreed, cannot be over-emphasised, as they help, in no small measure, to fill the current gaps in healthcare access and delivery in Lagos state, apart from being one of the prosocial initiatives of the APC governorship candidate. He said that this is a pointer to some of the things Sanwo-Olu would do in the health sector in the state if he gets the electorate’s nod to become the governor of Lagos as they go to the poll on March 9th.