Access to quality health care in rural areas is restricted by poor infrastructure and a smaller health care workforce, hindering the utilization of preventative health services and compromising the implementation of wellness and healthy lifestyle programs in these regions.
To meet the health care needs of members of a rural community in Nigeria; a non- governmental organization (NGO) 360degreeHEALTH NETwork has successfully completed a two-day medical outreach which catered for over 300 sick people in a rural village at Degema community; Rivers State.
The outreach, which took place on Tuesday 15th January and Wednesday16th January; 2018 at Obiama village, Degema witnessed a turnout of almost 300 people, most of whom were in dire need of medical attention.
One of the co-founders of the NGO, Eze Victor Obinna in a press briefing held at the location expressed his satisfaction as he said that they had prepared for this to ensure that members of the rural community gets access to adequate medical assessment, diagnostic testing and treatment. He was also present at the venue to monitor the progress.
The Medical Team Leader, Dr. Oladapo Michael said the diseases diagnosed and treated included hypertension, diabetes, malaria, arthritis, pneumonia, ulcer and that free diabetes, malaria and hypertensive screening was also done as well as distribution of drugs.
He stated that “We have adequate doctors and other medical personnel on ground to screen people, treat and give free drugs and refer more complicated cases to the state hospitals. We are attending to women, children, youths, even the men and old people. Children are being de-wormed, and treated for malaria, while adults are being diagnosed and treated of hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, among others’’
Chief Clement Jackson, a traditional ruler commended the NGO for bringing the outreach to his community to alleviate the sufferings of indigent people.
“I want to say a great thank you to the organizers for making it a reality and changing the health story of our community. I am also a beneficiary; free drugs were given to me to manage fever and ulcer; this is the first of its kind that people are being diagnosed, treated and giving drugs at no cost. I want other NGOs to emulate this good legacy,” the monarch said.
In his concluding statement, the co-founder of 360degreeHEALTH NETwork
stated that the aim of the organization is to get free health care service to as many people as possible in the slums and rural communities; focusing more on preventive and diagnostic medicine. With its health and education initiatives, the NGO will sensitize and alleviate people in the community from complications related to infectious diseases and chronic ailments.
The 360degreeHEALTH NETwork is a health consultancy platform that bridges the gap of health care service distribution inequality through free medical outreach project in rural communities and slums launched with support from National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Partnership For African Development (NEPAD), Health initiative for rural dwellers (HIRD) and DUFIL Foods in September 2019.
360degreeHEALTH NETwork was co-founded by Eze Victor Obinna (a Public health advocate and Registered Nurse), Scientist Festus Odoh (a laboratory Scientist) and Dr. Oladapo Michael.
The organization consists of a medical team comprising doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists and other non-medical experts and volunteers that help the team to various localities that are mapped out for them to cover during their yearly campaigns and free medical outreaches.
These health workers, which include volunteers, get to interact with the people in the various communities they visit, learn about their felt and unfelt health needs and create a database for these patients and the various diseases they present. Over time a rapport is built and they win the trust of their patients and refer them appropriately to the nearest health facility if there is a need to admit them.
I was opportune to get an overview from one of the founders of the group; Eze Victor Obinna; he noted that working on the project in various rural communities and slumps in Nigeria was not all smooth but it’s a health care delivery platform that can go a long way to alleviate the suffering of those Nigerians who live in hard to reach regions. The goal is to provide them with the basic needs like malaria treatments, vaccination against childhood illnesses, HIV, diabetes, typhoid fever, malaria and Hypertension screening, maternal and child health services and other life saving essential products.
The organization has partnered with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to organize a drug awareness program in Warri; Delta State. They launched a mass HIV/AIDs awareness campaign in Choba Community in collaboration with Rivers State Agency for the Control of Aids (RIVSACA); which got a good media coverage from Today FM 95.1, NTA and AIT in December 2016 following it establishment and a free health medical outreach in Degema community where over 200 non-toxic insecticide mosquitoe treated nets where distributed, endorsed and supported by the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board (RSPHCMB).
They have also partnered with National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to organise a program on environmental friendliness in the impoverished slum of Ogoni land; Rivers state as a means of propagating and supporting the federal government plan to clean up the environmental damage caused by oil spillage in the region. In 2018; 360degreeHEALTH NETwork was consulted and partnered with the Delta State Health Contributory Commission to organize a 2 days rural community based health outreach in Ekwuoma community in Delta State; Nigeria attending to about 500- 700 respondents.
As part of its program; the organization also partners with secondary/tertiary private and government owned hospitals for the referral of medical conditions in rural communities that requires prompt expert management; notably was the sponsorship of 5 patients diagnosed of Chronic Kidney disease to benefit from episodes of dialysis in University of Benin Teaching Hospital; Edo State; the assistance given to few patients who needed financial assistance for minor surgical procedures and the contributions of the organization in maternal and child health; decreasing the countries burden of mother and child mortality rate in rural communities.
The annual report of these projects which has gone on for the last three years is available and it shows the number of people reached per month and in each rural community. Statistics may not be available here but I have a very strong feeling that the people who live in the less privileged regions of the nation, deserve essential free health care services; let’s not neglect the difficult to reach them, they are as much human as those who live in cities.
Though the 360degreeHEALTH NETwork is working towards ensuring equity in health care service delivery, but the challenges of assessing funds, medical supplies and support from government and health affiliated agencies still threatens its existence.
Its founders and members are however resolute to meeting the needs of low income community members and vulnerable groups in rural communities in Nigeria low and would broaden their scope to more regions in sub-Saharan Africa with more sponsorship and partnership with international agencies.