Two thousand Nigerians have received free medical treatment including surgery from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The medical service, which was in collaboration with a non-governmental agency, Vision Savers was taken to Nko, a densely populated village in Yakurr Local Government Area, in central Cross River State.
Members of the community turned out in their numbers to welcome the team led by Mrs. Lauren Braide, the Director, Community Development and Education in the Ministry, who represented the Permanent Secretary.
More than 100 people received eye surgeries, including a traditional leader, Eteng Omini, who commended the Nigerian Government for empowering the Ministry to provide such services to people in the Niger Delta region.
“I have been blind for more than 3 years now. But, I was glad when my people told me that the government was sending doctors to help those of us here in Nko, who do not have the kind of money needed for operation,” said Omini.
He further said “Now, I can see again. Although, the doctor said I will use the dark sunglasses for some time I am grateful to the people for giving me my sight back”.
In an interview, Lauren Braide of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs said providing free medical services in partnership with notable non-profit organizations was an annual event.
Braide hinted that Nko village specifically appealed for free eye care, which the Ministry decided to grant.
She disclosed that the number of people seeking free medical services outweighed the 500 budgeted for in the 2018 fiscal allocation.
“Every year the Ministry conducts medical outreaches and sensitization on malaria, typhoid, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and eye care. But, for the 2018 appropriation, we had a request from certain communities particularly this community to book for eye surgeries. So, we looked at it and decided to extend the outreach into free eye surgeries; and this is what you are witnessing here”, stated Braide.
“To tell you the truth, the number of persons we are seeing here is beyond our expectation. We had looked at attending to 500 people. However, we will take very serious and severe cases, but make referrals and follow ups,” she further stated.
According to Braide, “the Ministry is partnering with Vision Saver to give the community free eye surgeries. Ordinarily, it would cost nothing less than Four to Five hundred thousand naira (400,000.00 and 500,000.00) but Vision Saver is providing the services and the Ministry bears the cost for consumables, the surgeries and the personnel”.
Leader of the medical team, Dr. Kamal Umar said the services provided would include giving out prescription glasses besides eye surgeries.
“We have seen about 300 patients for HIV and we have given them medications. Others are malaria and diabetes treatments. We were expecting to see 500 patients, but as we progressed, we realized that the number was more than what the Ministry planned for,” Umar disclosed.
He added that the outreach, which would last for 3 days, has witnessed an impressive turnout, noting “we have already exceeded the target, but we volunteered to treat more than 2,000 people. So far, I am impressed”.