(By Adebayo Oladejo)
No fewer than 250 residents of Iju/Ishaga community in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State benefited from a free medical screening and awareness campaign. This was recently organised by the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Iju/ Agege Zone, in collaboration with Howard University – Pharmacy Continuing Education Programme (HU-PACE).
The free medical screening and awareness, which took place at the Palace of the Olu of Ishaga, had among the numerous people in attendance, chiefs-in-council to the king, clerics, members of the Motorcycle Riders Union, popularly known as okada riders, and members of the Market Women Association.
Speaking with Pharmanews, the coordinator, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Iju/Agege Zone, Pharm. Agbude George, explained that the free medical screening and awareness was organised to have an impact in the community where members of the association practised. According to him, “Many people do not know the difference between pharmacists and other healthcare providers, especially the medical doctors. So,we are here to showcase our presence to the people of this community and to tell them that there are lot of things that they are missing by not regularly patronising pharmacists.”
Continuing, he said, “Our major concern is about the health status of our people; so we have come to assess their health situations and offer medical advice. We are here to carry out HIV tests, so as to know their status, check their blood sugar level, check their blood pressure levels, check their body max index (BMI) and also counsel them, where necessary. We are doing this in collaboration with Howard University – Pharmacy and Continuing Education Programme (HU-PACE), and we intend to make it a continuous project.”
Speaking on the responses of people towards the medical screening, Agbude said he was overwhelmed by the way people embraced the programme. “We were at Ishaga Community main market about a week ago and the responses were massive. Today again, it has been impressive, with the way people are scrambling to get tested and asked questions about their health. This shows that people are in dire need of this medical screening and that they really want to know their health status. Meanwhile, one thing I have noticed from our various medical screenings and exercises is that the health situations of Nigerians are really improving, as there is a lot of awareness and people are more enlightened on how to avoid infections, especially HIV/AIDS, which was once the number one killer disease.”
Beaming with excitement, he added: “The good news is that people are more enlightened about the precautions to take in order to avoid HIV/AIDS, and I am happy to tell you that, out of the over 100 people that we tested last week at the main market and about 250 that we have tested today, we have only recorded one person who tested positive. This is an indication that HIV/AIDS is no longer a major threat, as it used to be in the past…”
While thanking the association, the traditional head of the community, His Royal Majesty, Alh. A. Ajibode, the Olu of Ishaga, expressed happiness that people of his community were enjoying free medical services, adding that the exercise, if continued, would greatly help to prevent illnesses in the community and promote longer, healthier life. “The rate at which people slump and die is quite alarming; yet most times the cause of death is something minor that could have been treated if properly diagnosed earlier. So, it is good when one is aware of his or her health status and I am happy that this is happening in my community” he said.
The king, who disclosed that the secret of his youthfulness and physical fitness, despite his old age, was a combination of healthy diet, regular exercise and constant medical screening, said he often counselled his subjects to follow his example.
Corroborating the king’s statement, the Aare of Iju Ishaga, Chief O. E. Adeshina, said it had been a long time that such free medical exercise took place in the community, while also urging the organisers to extend the exercise to other parts of the community, as there were other people who would be willing to participate but lived far away from the vicinity of the king’s palace.
Thanking the organisers, one of the beneficiaries of the programme, Mrs Oluwatoyin Jacob, said the community had been neglected for a long time in the area of free medical screening and, as such, she was very happy that community pharmacists were bringing back what the community had missed for a long time. “It is a wonderful privilege that this kind of exercise is holding in our community today because it is over a year now that I, particularly, have been privileged to know my health status,” she disclosed.