Uzokwe's Searchlight

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alfred Obiora Uzokwe, P.E



Nigerian pediatrician, Dr Mrs. Ruth Ngozi Agwunah, has decried the absence of a line item in Nigeria’s budget for health. She was speaking during a gala event organized by the Nnewi Community Organization of Washington DC Area(NCOWA). The event, which was held at the Village Commons Community Center in Gambrills Maryland, brought together Nnewi sons and daughters and their friends.

Dr Agwunah noted that in Nigeria, “when some people get sick, instead of going to see a doctor, they elect to visit native doctors, pastors and others”, a fact that exacerbates their problems. To compound these problems, she opined, “some pharmacists sell bad or fake medications to the detriment of consumers”.

She said that the famous saying of President John F Kennedy of: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”, was a call to action for her as a doctor. She returned to the United States and began to conduct internet research. Her research unearthed information on how to procure, sometimes free of charge, medical supplies and drugs, from charitable organizations, to help in the Nigerian situation. From that moment on, she started helping in the planning and execution of medical missions to Nigeria.

According to Dr Agwunah, when the medical missions first started, sometimes when they shipped medical supplies to Nigeria, the bureaucracy of men and women of the Customs tended to hamstring their efforts. Additionally, the lengthy approval process of the Nigerian Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) was also an obstacle. As time went on and they became more conversant with the system and process, these obstacles dwindled to manageable levels. Now, they go to these medical missions in Nigeria, hand out drugs and medical supplies to the needy while teaching lay people diabetic care and the likes.

She called on those with compassionate heart to join the effort of going on the medical missions. According to her, “one does not need to be a medical professional to join in the trip”. She admonished those Nigerians living in the United States to also be taking care of their health.

Speaking earlier, the chairman of NCOWA, Mr Nwabufo Ojukwu said that the gathering was geared towards bringing “attention to the health care situation in Anambra state”. He decried the age-old practice in Nigeria where superstition still “dominates our view of illnesses” and hence people fail to make necessary doctor visits for preventive care. He noted that NCOWA was seeking donations to help the organization continue her efforts at helping the less fortunate in Nigeria. He also catalogued some of the accomplishments of the organization like sinking borehole for the orphanage in Nnewi and providing a 3000-gallon overhead water storage tank.

Speaking later, Dr Joe Nnadike noted the deleterious effects of inaccurate health information that make their way through Nigerian communities. He called for health education for Nigerians on how to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. This will begin to set aside bad information people sometimes get like a diabetic patient being advised to drink bitterleaf water as a cure.

As the night wore on, young members of the association conducted a fashion parade, displaying various types of African attires to the delight of those gathered. The attendees were also treated to a traditional dance by the children again to the appreciation of the people.