. . . Targets Free Eye Medical Treatment in Forthcoming Outreaches
By Uchechukwu Enem
As a way of inculcating ‘think home philosophy’, promoting good health and touching lives, the Awka USA & Canada Union held a one-week free medical outreach in Awka which started on 6th May and ended on 10th May 2019 at different community centers.
Speaking to Fides newspaper, the Chairman of the Medical Mission Awka USA & Canada Association, Greg Chidi Okafor who is from Umuzocha village, said that the association was an umbrella to unite all Awka indigenes in America and Canada. He said that the free medical outreach started three years ago with the aim of helping Awka Community and providing free medical care especially in areas of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, pains and malaria. Mr. Okafor, recalled how the union has helped in building maternity in Amaku Hospital and has also provided chairs for schools.
He added that they received sponsorship for members, individuals and contributions from all the chapters namely; Atlanta, Michigan, Dallas, Maryland, New York, Houston & Chicago. He said that this years’ outreach was targeted to six villages which are; Umuzocha village, held on Monday, 6th May; Umudioka village which was on Tuesday, 7th May; Ifite village (Wednesday), Amikwo & Umunaga (Thursday) and Umuokpu village which was on Friday, 10th May, 2019. Nevertheless, he said that working with the local community and creating awareness is one of the major challenges faced by the union. He said that funding was a big challenge to them in the union; adding that some drugs were bought from USA while some were bought in Nigeria.
He added that they haven’t gotten enough funds for eye medical outreach. Mr. Okafor disclosed to Fides that the union also takes care of the bills of patients who needs intensive care or sometimes refer them to Udoka Hospital which is owned by one of their members for proper medical care.
Also speaking, the President General of Awka Union USA & Canada INC, Henry Okwuchukwu Onwumbiko, who is a native of Umudioka, said that since the program started, there have been progressive statistics of people’s participation. He added that they have recorded 1400 participants in the first years after having medical outreach in six locations within five days. In the second year, the union also recorded 1800 participants after their outreach in five locations. He added that since the beginning of the week, the participants were growing higher than past years and hopefully, the record will be 2000 participants in total this year after taking their free medical outreach to six communities.
He said that our health system in Nigeria is still growing and needed more attention. Mr. Onwumbiko added that medical doctors were brought down to carter for the health of the patients. He said that because of limited resources of the union, they couldn’t do enough publicity. He added that the local intermediaries were helpful in creating awareness about the programme. He explained why it might not be possible for the team to come down 2- 3 times yearly because of constraint of funds, time and resources. Onwumbiko lamented over the way people do not give or impact lives.
Also speaking, Tony Nwombu & Dr. Tochukwu Agbata Uganwune (Physician in USA) who are both residents in USA, said that they don’t receive any money from the government in USA and in Nigeria; adding that they sponsor themselves. They said they will focus on eye care in subsequent outreaches. They thanked the union for their help and their support and other members who travelled from USA to be part of the programme. They urged all to be ready to participate in voluntary programmes adding that it is a sacrifice to help one another and our community.
Onyebuchi Nwaka Mbonu from Canada & Ugochukwu Onwumbiko from USA, said that they derive so much joy helping their community. According to them, it has been a humbling experience and a moment of eye opening to the people.
Mr. Chilie Okoro, who is a beneficiary to the free health care service said that he came to check his Blood Pressure. He thanked the team for coming to help and carter for the need of those that are poor who may not have money for their basic health needs.
Another beneficiary who disclosed her name as Anulika, said that she was happy about the free medical service. She said that she received free Malaria drugs on her visit to the center. She prayed that God will reward them and give them the strength to do more.
Other members of the team are Austin Okoye, Dilim Iloanya, Oby Anene, Iyke Ezeji Okoye.