Recently, SET Plc visited Apapa/Iganmu LCDA where residents numbering over 1000 were given free heart screening and drugs to curtail the high rate of cardiovascular and related diseases ravaging the people, writes Peter Uzoho. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Health Response Initiative (HRI), the management of Secure Electronic Technology (SET) Plc has successfully conducted a three-day free screening exercise on cardiovascular and other health related diseases for residents of Ijora-Badia in Apapa-Iganmu Local Council Development Area of Lagos.
The exercise carried out from Monday 15 to Wednesday17 August, 2016, in partnership with the LCDA and some other non-governmental organisations saw residents numbering over 1,000, comprising women, men, and the elderly getting examined by Dr. Sabu George, a cardiovascular disease specialist based in Philadelphia, United States of America.
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer, SET Plc, Dr. Odunlami Kola-Daisi, said one of the reasons that drew their attention to the area was because of the high population of indigent and vulnerable people living in the local government as revealed by the United Nation’s statistics.
Daisi, who is also the Chairman of NSL Foundation pointed out that apart from the three days free screening and consultation, the organisation also provided the beneficiaries with seven to 30 days free drugs supply and in serious cases, onward referral to state specialist clinics.
He also stressed that apart from the free medical attention offered to the residents, the exercise was dedicated towards capacity building and development of local doctors and nurses on the basic cardiovascular health issues by the foreign specialist.
“The expert will teach our doctors and nurses on the basic cardiovascular health issues and how to use and read data from the Electrocardiography machine (ECG or EKG) provided for the LCDA medical centre,” Daisi noted.
He also disclosed that as a trained medical doctor the programme was very important to him because he recognised the importance of good health to productivity and that the foundation would ensure that other parts of the country have access to the periodic medical mission.
Also speaking on the programme, specialist cardiologist, Dr. George Sabu, said that cardiovascular diseases was a general term used to describe diseases of the heart or blood vessels, saying that the diseases could be controlled, if detected at the early stage.
Sabu who is an Indian citizen born in Nigeria, and attended the University of Jos, where he was trained as a medical doctor before moving to America 25 year ago, said “Cardiovascular diseases are a silent killer, and if not detected at the early stages, the sufferer is at high risk and can lead to sudden death.
“It is more expensive to treat the ailment and cheaper to prevent it by maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, checking cholesterol, avoiding too much of carbohydrates and sugar.
“We can avoid cardiovascular diseases by eating less of carbohydrates, but more of
vegetables and drinking more water than fizzy drinks. We will ensure that any person detected to have such ailment will be given proper care by providing free treatment and there will be regular consultations, to monitor the patients,’’ he said.
Speaking further, Sabu said “I believe if the Nigerian government must do one thinn about the health section in the country is to encourage the citizens to regularly check their blood pressure, I saw over 200 people whose blood pressure was above 200, I saw cases which most people only read in textbooks.”
However, Sabu noted that although he had always desired to come back to contribute to the development of Nigeria, a country that gave him a lot, his busy schedule made it almost impossible until he was invited back by Dr. Kola-Daisi to participate in the medical mission.
He said that the gratitude they got from the beneficiaries and the staff during the programme was so overwhelming, saying it was “the kind you can hardly get anywhere else in the world.”
Sabu revealed that plan was on the way for him, Dr. Kola-Daisi and seven other international renowned medical specialists, all of whom attended the University of Jos, to come back to Nigeria next year for the expansion programme and also to give back to the society that made them.
Expressing his gratitude to SET Plc and Dr. Sabu, for the laudable programme, the Sole Administrator, Apapa-Iganmu LCDA, Mr. Olumide Olayomi said it would go a long way in curtailing the pace at which people die of heart disease due to ignorance.
According to him, “Since heart-related diseases have been observed as one of the major causes of sudden death in recent times worldwide, early detection can help stem the tide of sudden death.”
Olayomi, a Fellow of Rockefeller Foundation, USA Leadership for Environment and Development, said he keyed into the screening exercise because of his desire to improve healthcare delivery to residents of Apapa-Iganmu and its environs within his sphere of influence, while also aligning with Governor Akinwunmi Abode’s policy on improved public health.
The council boss also stated that, “the health screening focused on individuals who do not have immediate access to treatment of heart-related diseases. The health of people in the community is critical to the progress of this local council development area, because it will boost our economy because healthy people are always productive,” he said.
Olayomi said further that many people were expected to benefit from the exercise, after which any critical health issues would be referred to the general hospitals and teaching hospitals, for further treatment.
On his part, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, urged residents of the Apapa/Iganmu Local Council Development Area and all Nigerians to undergo regular medical tests for diabetes and hypertension.
According to him, “non-communicable diseases are major public health challenges in the state which are as deadly as communicable diseases.”
The commissioner, who was represented at the event by the Director, Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Eniola Erinoso, said the state government would not succeed if its human capital was not healthy and productive. While advising residents to patiently go through the processes, Idris said the state government was focusing on disease prevention at the grassroots.
“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has a special interest in having a healthy citizenry and at the primary healthcare level, we are after disease prevention. We have been having ‘Wellness Week’ where medical doctors treat Lagos residents for non-communicable diseases. We are creating awareness for the next event which will hold in the Lagos East Senatorial District because cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are major problems for our people,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the beneficiaries who were full of joy and excitement for having such God’s agents in the like of SET Plc come to lift their burden from them, sang, danced and praised SET Plc for the kind gesture extended to them as they could not believe that their health challenges could be treated free.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Ike Akinsola, expressed her deep appreciation to the organisers for their thoughtfulness and their rescue mission.
According to her, she heard about the screening two weeks ago through a friend and she decided to come to take advantage of the free treatment.
“I am glad that I came because not only was I treated free of charge, I was also given free drugs which has gone a long way to save me money. I want to appeal to the organisers to extend the duration of the screening to enable many people to be treated because of the large number of people that will be coming for the screening,’’ Akinsola said.
Another beneficiary, Alhaji Wasiu Oseni, said that he was happy to be given such opportunity to know his health status for free.
“Many of us don’t even know that we need to go for medical check-ups regularly, but this free health screening and consultation has opened our eyes to the importance of putting our health first,” Oseni added.
A 46-year-old trader and beneficiary of the programme, Mrs. Basirat Adebayo, said a neighbour invited her for the free health check, noting that in spite of the crowd, there was adequate control which made the process very commendable as people didn’t have to fight over position.
“It is well organised, even with the massive crowd, the queue is moving, unlike some events where it will be rowdy,” Adebayo noted.
This article was first published on This Day Newspaper website