By Steve Oko
At no time will the free medical/surgical outreach floated on Tuesday by the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State, Professor Greg Ibe, be more apt than now that the health sector of the state is undeniably in a bad shape.
This is because the intervention will bring a huge relief to thousands of residents with different kinds of health challenges but could not access the needed medi-care in public hospitals due to the sorry-state of affairs in the critical sector.
For instance, Doctors at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH, Aba, has been on strike for over one year now following 25 months of salary arrears.
Similarly, doctors at the Abia Health Management Board, HMB, have also downed tools for months in protest to over 11 months of unpaid wages.
Sadly, ABSUTH has already lost accreditation to admit medical students, even as there are concerns that if no urgent intervention is done, the institution will also lose its clinical accreditation, meaning it will no longer graduate medical students.
Consequently, the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, has declared strike action every Tuesday for all doctors working in the state both in public and private hospitals.
The NMA has vowed to escalate the measure if after one month, the State Government failed to meet the demands of the affected doctors.
The far-reaching implications of this sad development is that public hospitals across the state which have been grappling with lack of adequate facilities, are now faced with new challenges of manpower.
Hon. Ichita being screened
Innocent patients already plagued by the harsh economic situation in the country are at the receiving end.
Due to the deplorable condition of the health sector, a number of doctors in the state have since left the shores of the country in search of greener pastures abroad.
Findings by Wawa News Global revealed that some indigent folks with some medical conditions had already resigned to fate as what to eat took precedence over medi-care due to dwindling economy.
To such folks, the floating of the free medical/surgical outreach was a divine intervention.
The outpouring of residents to the venue of the annual exercise underscores this.
This was confirmed by the Head of the medical team, Dr Ojum Ogwo, who told newsmen that over 1000 patients had already showed up for medical examination few hours after the exercise was flagged off at the Event Centre Isi-Gate Umuahia. He had noted that daily target was 1500 cases but said that the surge at the centre was massive.
However, over 50 medical doctors and medical personnel from different areas of specialty are on ground to attend to patients.
Giving more insight on the six-day exercise, Secretary of the Gregory Iyke Ibe Foundation, Hon. Boniface Ikwuagwu, said the exercise would be rotated around all three senatorial zones in the state before Sunday when the zonal phase is expected to be rounded off.
“The six-day free medical exercise will tarry in Umuahia for three days before moving to the Umunneato axis of Abia Central zone, commencing at Isiala Ngwa North before terminating at Isiala Ngwa South on Sunday 7th August.”
Then afterwards, the free medical outreach will begin to move from one Local Government Area to the other to ensure people at the grassroot also benefit from the scheme.
Perhaps, more interesting is the explanation by the organisers that surgery cases and serious medical conditions would be referred to the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia where they will be handled by specialists at no extra cost on the patient but everything bankrolled by the Gregory Iyke Ibe Foundation.
Ikwuagwu disclosed that 20,000 beneficiaries were targeted in this year’s edition of the humanitarian gesture.
Interestingly also, is the fact that Professor Ibe is not an emergency philanthropist like most political office seekers, but has been into humanitarian services for years.
His Foundation has provided succour to humanity since 1991 when it was set up.
Investigations further revealed that over 300 students in different courses of study, are currently enjoying free scholarship in his university – Gregory University Uturu.
It is also glad to note that the gesture as stressed by the State Chairman of APGA, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere, is for all residents of the state irrespective of their political affiliations.
Professor Ibe who was represented at the flag off exercise by his running mate and member representing Aba South state constituency, Hon. Obinna Ichita, had also explained that the exercise had no political undertones.
He said that the programme had nothing do do with his political ambition as he had been in the humanitarian gesture for many years.
“Professor Ibe is not doing this to get elected into office; he wants to elongate the lives of the people”.
Insisting that medi-care is the best gift one could give to humanity, Ichita explained that he embarked on the free medical outreach as an interventionist programme to bridge the gap in the health care delivery system.
With the free medical/ surgical outreach coming at a time public hospital have enough dose of challenges to grapple with, many Abians will get quality medi-care and enjoy a longer life span.
Family resources that would have been expended on drugs, will now be channelled into other areas of need.
Most importantly, untimely early graves of hapless folks especially the low-income earners would have been prevented.
This explains the outpouring of encomiums by Abians on the benefactor, Professor Ibe, for this flow of milk of human kindness.
Expectedly, the critical health sector as well as other sectors of the state will witness transformation under the watch of the Professor of Entrepreneur, if voted into power in 2023.