…Lagos Committed To Universal Coverage
By Chioma Umeha
As for Alhaja Sherifat Azeez, a middle aged woman residing in Apapa area of Lagos, life is worth living again. Before now, her health status became worsened because she did not have financial power to to take up her hospital bill whether in private or public facilities. She didn’t have drugs that could ameliorate her health condition which has become a threat to her dear life. However, Alhaja Azeez, told Independent weekend that she has the necessary treatment as well as drugs and can now stand on her feet like her fellow women with the coming of Eko Health Mission programme.
Azeez said: “I have been visiting hospitals and I could not buy drugs for my ailment because I didn’t have money, but as the government of Akinwumi Ambode brought this free medical mission to our place, I went there and I did general body checks they gave me drugs for free. I am indeed truly grateful and I say thank you to Gov Ambode,” she said.
A young lady who simply identified her name as Blessing could not hold her joy as she giggled, while speaking to Independent. The free health programme has according to her, saved her some pains and money. “My teeth have been paining me and I didn’t have money to remove it. Private hospitals said to remove one is N7000 and two is N14,000. When I came here I did everything free of charge. I also did thorough body checks as well. Not only was my teeth removed, I collected glasses, I did HIV test. I am calling on everybody to come out to benefit from this noble initiative.
“I heard about it on Monday and I was here on Wednesday and I did everything on that same day without stress,” Blessing said.
Olabanji Fabiyi, could not read prior to now until he was give a pair of glasses in the ongoing free health initiative of the governor. “I feel very happy because I have been looking forward to getting glasses, but due to financial constraint I could not lay my hands on any. But when the issue of Eko health mission came, having heard that they want to do it in one of the areas near me, so I took that opportunity to go there. “To God be the glory I was given this glasses I am wearing now free of charge. So I thank the Governor for this laudable programme he brought to the less-privileged people like us. I could not go through my phone except I strain my eyes, to God be the glory, I can now go through my phone,” Fabiyi said.
Mrs. Giwa Alake was apparently full of gratitude to Almighty God for using the Governor of Lagos to save people’s lives. “I appreciate the governor for this initiative. I benefited from it. I washed my teeth and its not paining me again. Before now I could not eat strong meet but I can eat it now. I thank the governor for what he is doing in Lagos state, may God bless him,” Mrs. Alake said.
Azeez and blessing are among over 60,000 Lagos residents who have benefited from the ongoing Eko free medical mission organised by the state government to boost primary health care services in the state.
Already, seven Local Government and 12 Local Council Development(LGAs/LDAs) Areas comprising Ojo, Oto-Awori, Iba, Badagry, Badagry-West, Olorunda, Oshodi, Isolo, Ejigbo, Amuwo-Odofin, Oriade, Ajeromi, Ifelodun, Apapa, Iganmu, Ikeja, Onigbongbo and Ojodu have benefitted from the Eko Health Mission programme.
Reacting, Rachael Olabanji, a Senior Secondary two student who resides in Apapa area of Lagos, said her academic pursuit was nearly truncated. She was finding it difficult to study her books because of eyes defect. But, the free health mission has once again rekindled her hope of pursing her future academically.
“I will like to show my gratitude to Governor Akinwumi Ambode for giving this pair of glasses to me. I went to Apapa last week Thursday, because I am having problem while reading my books. So I was told to come today to collect my glasses,” she said.
In the same vein, 13-year-old Isiwat Odebiyi, an Ikorodu resident got a pair of glasses as well.
Commenting, the Governor of Lagos, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, who flagged off the on-going health mission ceremony at New City Primary School, Palm Avenue, Mushin noted that the Eko Health Mission is in furtherance of his administration’s objective to take health care to the grassroots and underserved areas in the State.
The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Oluranti 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 is 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 is 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 Lagosians 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 Lagos residents, stressing that this is geared towards promoting health, detecting diseases early and offering treatment and rehabilitation.
He posited that the overall goal now is ensuring that residents have access to Universal Health Coverage(UHC) adding that the Ministry of Health is working tirelessly to develop and implement strategies, programmes, interventions and initiatives to improve the health outcome of residents.
“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.
“These health missions are significant because they enable this administration to provide healthcare services to all who come irrespective of their age, gender, socioeconomic status and affiliations”, he added.
The Commissioner added that services offered under the programme are provided free of charge, and will include medication to address complaints, eye glasses and prompt referrals to the State Health Facilities, where necessary.
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.
The Commissioner noted the Medical Mission will be carried out across the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas for three-days every week and will end on the June 8, 2017.