• As US doctors hail Nigeria’s cheap organic foods
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It’s still two years to 2015 election, but the frenzy at Ekiti Central senatorial district between June 15 and 28 could be likened to a political rally of sorts. The mammoth crowd had gathered to benefit from a two-week mission, which provided free healthcare services to over 8,000 citizens.
The medical team, comprising seven United States-based healthcare providers and two local medical doctors began the mission at the Ewi of Ado’s palace before moving to Ijero. By the end of the outreach, the team had touched Ipoti, Aromoko, Okemesi, Ikogosi Warm Spring Tourist centre, Igede, Are-Ekiti, Efon and Ado-Ekiti, leaving behind sweet tales of succour and relief.
These strings of communities across several local government areas were beneficiaries of the free health mission facilitated by their representative at the green chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Monisola Oladaye, a woman leader in Efon Local Government Area of the state was delighted to have been a beneficiary. According to her, the free health programme was helpful to many, who have feared going to hospitals for check-up because of money.
“Many of our people do not have the money to visit hospitals and buy prescribed drugs. Ojudu has saved many lives through this and I wish it can be repeated, may be annually. It is happening exactly as we witnessed it during Awolowo’s era.”
For Otunba Adeyemi Olufemi, chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, the free health mission is like a miracle. “I have a swollen neck to the point I could no longer raise my right arm. My blood pressure is high. I have spent money seeing doctors, going for laboratory examinations and buying drugs but this problem has defied all medications.
“These foreign doctors just gave me two small tablets. They asked me to swallow one and put the other under my tongue. Within 24 hours, the swollen neck has gone down, my blood pressure is now normal, and I could raise my arm. For the first time in a long time, I slept well and even rolled off my bed, which is as big as Maracana Stadium in Brazil.
“I have since been wondering if the drugs I have been taking were poison. The least was N17,000 and some were as expensive as N25,000. I now realise that good health has nothing to do with the number of tablets prescribed, as we tend to believe here. I have suffered but I am now free. I used to have blood pressure of 180/110 and was taking drugs daily to manage it. Within 24 hours, I went down to 140/80,” he added.
The programme also left a lasting impression on members of the medical team. Dr. Shakirah Abdulhaqq, said Nigeria could have one of the lowest child mortality rates in the world if mothers are properly educated during pregnancy.
“Ignorance is the biggest reason for child mortality. I spent more time educating the mothers. The children are strong naturally and I believe it is because Nigerians eat a lot of organic foods,” she said, adding that Nigeria should not have unhealthy children.
“Many of the children are dehydrated and this can cause high temperature. All they need then is water, but the mothers give their children needless drugs instead. I noticed the women wear heavy clothing for their kids also. This is a hot climate and the kids do not need that.
“The weather here is almost perfect. You have good environment and eat a lot of organic food. In the US, we spend a lot to get organic, we eat lots of additives; but Nigerians are fortunate to have cheap organic foods here. The mothers need only to know how to detect dehydration, or what to look for in case of malaria and other cases,” she said.
Another doctor, Mary Clayton, said: “The people are strong and live long. I saw so many old people in their nineties and they are still strong. They could walk, see, talk and their activity generally do not reflect their age. In the US, people like that would have been in a nursing home and would be very sickly. The children also are very strong, almost not needing to see a doctor in their entire childhood.
“We pay to eat organically in America and that is costly. See, your children all have healthy teeth, which is now a problem in US. Many kids have cavities because they eat a lot of candies. In Nigeria, you have it right when it comes to food. Everything in our restaurant comes in big sizes, so you see the kids are overfed. I see many fast foods springing up, but I will say processed foods are not worth having.”
Impressed by the relative success of the mission, Ojudu promised to hold the outreach every year. “We intend to make this an annual event. I have acquired a 40-foot truck, which has been converted into a mobile clinic. We will employ healthcare providers that will be on the mobile clinic moving round the senatorial district to provide free health services, especially on market days.”
On the quality of drugs available in the country, he said: “It was shocking when I heard our people saying the imported drugs from US worked better. They found relief from long-term ailments. We can no longer doubt the fact that there is something wrong with the medications coming into Nigeria and I will make these observations known to the chairman of senate committee on health.”
The medical team, led by Dr. Abdulrasheed Abassi, rendered their services free though the senator provided logistics, which included feeding, accommodation, and travel expenses.