By Juliet Umeh
Residents of Makoko, a slum in the Yaba area of Lagos, have received free medical attention for various ailments, courtesy of Health Empowerment African Initiative, HEAI, during a 2-day medical outreach to the waterfront community of over 100,000 people.
The residents were checked for hepatitis, HIV, blood sugar level, blood pressure among others.
The Coordinator, HEAI, Mr. Uzor Ezechukwu, said the rate of people suffering from hepatitis B was worrisome.
“Almost all of them are having hepatitis B and for the children, it is skin rashes and malaria. This is possible because of the dirty waters around here since the people defecate in the same water they swim.”
He noted that the rate of HIV infection in the area was very low but most of the pregnant women tested had high blood pressure.
Explaining the choice of Makoko, Ezechukwu said the reason was to offer back to humanity hence there’s no medical care in the community.
“They don’t have a single doctor or a chemist shop, and we are here to close the gap as an NGO. Where the government cannot reach, NGO steps in to fill up the gap.
“We are especially grateful to our generous donors, and the community for being gracious hosts, especially to the Baale Shemede for help in sensitising the community.”
He commended the volunteers including the medical personnel that supported the initiative.
In the view of the Medical & Strategy Director, HEAI, Dr. Uzo Abakporo, there was a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the community.
“At HEAI, and through the SlumDoc initiative, we aim to foster deep partnerships with communities like this and contribute to improving access to health and other services to aid them in improving their quality of life. This will in turn contribute to broader societal gains,” Abakporo added.
Also, the founder of the NGO, Dr. Joy Abakporo said: ” I founded HEAI to improve the capacity of Africans to take full responsibility for their health through improving education, awareness, and literacy especially.
“Over time, we are creating different initiatives that focus on specific areas of the broader system that has an impact on the individual and population health”.
Appreciating the gesture, the community head, Baale Emmanuel Shemede, said they were so excited about the medical aid.
He said: “This is one of the things we have been looking forward to. The last time we had something like this was about eight years ago.
He noted that it is Makoko mainland that experiences a gesture like this. Shemede, therefore, called on the state government to come to their aid by establishing a hospital in their community.