Over five thousand indigent persons have benefited from a free medical outreach organized by a group called Afikpo Organization, Inc (AOI) USA, in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The five days outreach took place last week at Mater Hospital, Afikpo, with beneficiaries from Afikpo North, Abakaliki, Umahia and other nearby communities from different Local Government Areas.
Afikpo Organization, Incorporated (AOI) USA is a non-profit organization made up of Afikpo sons and daughters who residence in USA and every year organize the free medical care as a show of love and care to their people who cannot afford to visit hospital for medical treatment.
Speaking to Journalist who was at the outreach, the leader of the 2019-team Immaulata Ulu, explained that the organization has been in existence for a long time and assured that they will continue to give back to their people through the outreach and other human oriented programs.
Ulu commended the volunteers who sacrificed their time and energy to ensure that the outreach recorded huge success.
Ulu said, “I live in the United States for a long time now, there is an organization that I am part of called, Afikpo Organization Incorporated (AOI) USA, it is a group of Afikpo people in the United States of America. We come together every year, we have been doing this as far back as in the 1980s.”
“But at some point, we came out with an idea of what can we do to give out to our people, and we decided that medical care is a critical issue in our community, so we decided to form a way to raise funds every year and help those people who ordinarily will not have access to health care and that is why we started a medical mission.”
“It’s been a yearly program for quite some time. Dr. Egwu who is our member usually led the team but this year he took a break so I came.”
She said the medical extermination starts from general practitioner. “We have surgeons who are doing operation of fibroids, tumours, Hernia, you name it. If it is lab we have lab, we have eye clinic, GYM, dental and referral.
“It has been in existence since 1989, we also do community health Education in teams of chronic illness. We spend not less than 25 thousand dollars every year. Personally we add to what they give us.”
“Apart from our transport which we pay ourselves to come and the excess luggage, it is probably close to hundred thousand dollars if you add everything together”. She said.
On her part, a nurse based in US and also a member of the organization, Leticia Ibe, explained that the motive is to help the downtrodden in their community because good health is the most important thing one can afford.
Leticia said, “We do this every year to help our people, but any time we visit, it is not only Afikpo indigenes that benefit, we have people from neighbouring town and villages, people from Okaigwe, Abakaliki, Enugu, we are not discriminating people in the program as long as they are here. So we do this every year to help our people. Because health care is something we are lagging behind.”
“Different types of surgeries are going on right now, we are just coming out from a surgery. We know we can’t take care of everyone but we do the little we can.
On their source of income, she said, “We don’t have partner, we tax ourselves, do fundraising to get fund for the program.
HRH Ezeogo John Ekuma, Izuegu 1, of Afikpo Autonomous community who was one of the beneficiaries commended the team.
He said, “I’m highly delighted. It is a health humanitarian job, to help the people who can’t afford any kobo or much to be attended to. This group has come to make them health wise. They should come yearly to assist those who can’t afford any medical bill for themselves.
The chief executive of an NGO called NIWA but volunteered to work with the team, Nancy Oko Onyia called for proper health Education among the rural communities in the state so that the people will know when and how to seek for medical attention.
Onyia said, “The turnout is very high and the volunteers stood up, worked so hard that at least the last person that came was seen by a doctor, that means we met our target, we served the people, the people were satisfied. The target was to reach 4000 but we exceeded and reached a target of 5000 people, we are so happy.
“The organization also did well in the provision of commodities, drugs were perfectly arranged. We had our fear but everything worked well. One of the major fears was crowd control but the program generally was successful and I am fulfilled.”
“There is a need for this type of outreach because anyone who is healthy may not understand what people pass through. The numbers of persons we saw, over 80% of them are hypertensive. They look quite healthy and strong, but on checking them, we discovered that they are not well.”
“We also discovered that people cover their sickness with cloth. There is also need for government and individuals, even corporate organizations to partner, there is a need for a lot of health Education. People are misinformed, people don’t get adequate information, and people don’t get timely information, so there is need for adequate timely information which will help people to manage their health system properly.”
“There is also a need to educate people on how to feed. We have enough food around but we don’t know how to use them. A lot of Education needs to be done and engaging the health extension workers, volunteers who will be trained on how to give out that information, that will help manage the citizen’s health properly.
The local coordinator of the program, Mr. Otu Agbo Osborn Chukwuemeka applauded the group who taxed themselves just to give back to the indigents.
He said, “They have taken their time, energy and finance to see the success of this program I commend them and they should not relent in doing the good work to our people. To us down here, were are going to see how we can organize locally to support this dream which they have led us into it is a very big thing.”