Enugu: Rt Hon Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and member representing Aninri/Awgu /Oji River Federal Constituency has stressed that disease prevention, rather than treatment ought to be given greater attention by the Annual Medical Outreach organized by the Toby Okechukwu Foundation.

Toby stated that on Friday, 17th June, 2022, while addressing the press, after a tour of activities at the UNTH Outpost, Ugbo, venue of the free medical outreach he is sponsoring in conjunction with a Medical NGO, Doctors on the Move Africa, DOTMA, to meet the health needs of the people of his constituency and beyond.

Dr. Joseph Haruna Kigbu, the team leader for Doctors On The Move Africa (DOTMA) in a remark after conducting Toby round the different units including; eye clinic, general theater, eye theater pharmacy unit, laboratory unit, diagnosis center, etc said:“Today we are at Ugbo in Awgu Local Government of Enugu State being sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, in the person of Rt. Hon. Toby Okechukwu. We are doing a comprehensive short term medical mission having done the needs assessment of this community.

Dr. Kigbu, who coincidentally was Toby’s colleague in the House of Representatives, representing Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency threw, more light on the program:

“This is our fourth day working in this community. Over 2000 patients have already been treated which include over 87 general surgeries. Over 33 cataract surgeries were done already but still counting.

He equally emphasized the positive impact of the medical outreach and commended Rt. Hon. Toby for sponsoring it for over eight years.

For the beneficiaries of the outreach, Dr. Kigbu said:And so, you can see the joy in their faces. Those who could not see can now see because their have lenses are removed and new ones are fixed for them. Little children come in with congenital hernias, their hernias are fixed. Now they can go back to school, they can learn and of course the farmers and traders who have such problems will be tackled and they will become economically viable to the community. So, as an organization, Doctors On The Move, we are thankful to Rt. Hon. Toby Okechukwu that has provided this platform over the years.”

In his address, Rt. Hon. Toby expressed satisfaction with the level of success recorded. He however expressed that prevention of diseases ought

“If you really check the statistics of the number of surgeries last time, last year, it was over 300, but presently, what they are having is about 87, then 33 hard surgeries by this time last year. By this period, they have done 100, so my assumption is that it is reducing, which means it is having effect. So, the idea is to see how we can provide some intervention regarding the challenges of rural medicine and medication.”

He said that the idea is to intervene and mitigate the challenged the people have in accessing much needed healthcare services which include lack of funds, accessibility, bureaucracy, the lack of specialists in some areas and so on.

“As a matter of fact, you know, this area is challenged. Even when you have the UNTH, it is not everybody who can go there. They have monetary issues, they have problem of access, we also have issues of specialization. And then, the number of people that flock in there and the bureaucracy and the logistics is quite challenging, so, we are happy that UNTH has this outpost here that can attend, at least, to some of the problems. And that is why Doctors On The Move have come through our instrumentation to intervene.

” So, the idea is to provide some succor to our people – to intervene where we can and then in the long term we want to also build facilities that in a sustainable manner, deal with these issues. You didn’t know about this place before, you hadn’t the privilege of providing this kind of intervention. But now, it is a UNTH outpost, it is going to be sustainable. Presently, they have two doctors that are posted here permanently. They have nurses, they also have pharmacists and they have employed administrators from this area who would provide some administrative responsibility. So, in the long term is to build the facility, in the short term, is to provide intervention so that those who can, who may not be able to wait for permanent structure will have intervention and live long.”

On what motivates him in putting together free medical outreach for the people, Toby said that it is a burden when somebody is actually sick because the person has no economic viability or contribution to make.“The point to make is that we need to intervene constructively in which ever way we can to ameliorate the challenge of our people,” he asserted.

He stressed that the Universal Health Insurance is by act of parliament and that since there are certain things that can’t be done by compulsion, awareness is required to make people to understand that when they pull their resources together, they are better off.On the challenges of the medical outreach, Rt. Hon. Toby pointed at the ability to move the people to the point of contact with the medical practitioners and the lack of adequate time to deal with all the cases of everybody. “But we will continue to do our best to make sure that some of these challenges are mitigated,” he said.

Furthermore, Toby stated that another aim of the outreach was to conduct researches and surveys on the cause of certain prevalent diseases in his constituency.

“Because of our belief that disease prevention is better than disease treatment, the medical team carried out a research on the prevalence of scrotal lymphedema, known in Igbo Language as ibi, in Nenwe, Aninri Local Government Area, after having several persons from that location undergoing the above mentioned surgery here.

“Research revealed that the disease was caused by tsetse flies associated with donkeys, Nenwe has a thriving donkey market /abattoir”.

Our correspondent also discovered that there was a high case of congenital hernia, with more than ten male children, ranging from ages of three to ten years undergoing surgery.

The womenfolk of Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, in appreciation, sang the praises of the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, raining emotive benedictions on him, for touching their lives and those of their loved ones.

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