DOTMA Free Medical Outreach Supersedes Intended Number of Patients

For five days, precisely from Monday September 27th, 2021 to 1st October, 2021, the premises of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia, the Capital of Nasarawa State were overflowing with patients from all over Nasarawa State, with some from outside the State.

The patients were there to be attended to by medical personnel drawn from some of the hospitals mostly from outside Nasarawa State.

And the patients presented varied health challenges some of which they had endured carrying them for several years.

At the end of the five-day medical outreach, the team of medical personnel under the auspices of Doctors On The Move Africa (DOTMA) surpassed the intended number of persons.

The statistics show that the Out Patients Department (OPD) recorded 8, 166 patients, over 2000 Reading glasses were given out, 185 eye surgeries as well as 232 general and gynae surgeries were done. Also, over 321 scanning were caried out.

The medical services were rendered courtesy Doctors On The Move Africa (DOTMA), a leading NGO in Nigeria primarily involved in pro bono delivery of quality healthcare including HIV/AIDS care, general, gynecologic, and ophthalmic surgeries to less privileged persons in Nigeria and across Africa.

Gov Sule Celebrates DOTMA

At the start of the medical outreach, there was a formal opening ceremony which the Governor of Nasarawa State, whose Government partnered with DOTMA to render the free medical services to the people was there together with the Deputy Governor, himself medical personnel. There also were many high Government functionaries as well as traditional rulers.

Gov Abdullahi Sule speaking at the opening ceremony

The Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, while flagging off what was described as a mega free medical outreach, said it would provide free medical care for 6000 patients, with medical doctors to undertake over 300 surgeries.

The medical outreach, which was carried out as part of activities marking the 25th anniversary of the creation of Nasarawa State, was in conjunction with the Doctors on the Move Africa (DOTMA), a not-for-profit organisation and will provide free OPD drugs, general gynaecology operation, cataract operation, ultra sound scan, lab tests and free reading glasses.

Declaring the one-week event open, Engineer Sule said the exercise was in furtherance of the state-wide free medical outreach, aimed at improving the quality of life, particularly of the less privileged and indigent members of the society.

He disclosed that, the exercise was organised for the people of Nasarawa South Senatorial District of the State, with another 6000 persons already benefitting from similar outreach carried across six Local Government Areas of the State.

Engineer Sule, who couldn’t hide his excitement at the turnout of people who went to access the free medical services, said the gesture was in line with the policy drive of his administration, towards alleviating the plight of especially the common people.

Dr Kigbu Taking The BP Of The Governor

The Governor lamented that, mostly as a result of high cost of healthcare delivery, a lot of people are not able to treat diseases afflicting them, explaining the reason behind the decision of his administration to sponsor the free medical outreach.

He called on the people to embrace the State’s health insurance scheme recently passed into law, with a view to accessing cheap and efficient healthcare services, especially that the free medical outreach was just a temporary solution for the medical challenges of the people.

Engineer Sule sympathised with a woman going about with a growth in her womb for 18 years, unable to access medical care because of poverty and ignorance but who will be attended to at the outreach.

The Governor appreciated Dr. Joseph Haruna Kigbu, CEO/Chief Consultant Gynaecologist, DOTMA, for assembling an experienced medical team to be part of the outreach.

He used the opportunity of the event, to caution the people on the Delta variant of the coronavirus, urging the people to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols, in order to curb further spread of the virus.

Earlier in a remark, Dr. Janet Angbazo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, appreciated frontline health workers, for their continued support, in the provision of healthcare services to the people.

The Deputy Governor, Himself A Specialist Checking the Eye of a Patient

The PS recalled that, a few weeks prior to the outreach, her Ministry carried out a medical outreach in some local government areas namely Awe, Keana, Obi, Doma and Nassarawa Eggon, in fulfilment of Governor Sule’s covenant with the people of the State.

Also speaking, Chief Medical Director of DASH, Dr. Hassan Ikram, in a goodwill message, said the free medical outreach was organised based on the directive of Engineer Sule, for medical professionals, especially specialists at the facility, to the healthcare services to the people in rural areas.

While assuring the patients of continuing with their treatment in DASH even after the termination of the outreach, Dr Ikram disclosed that, so far, 30, 000 people have registered under the health insurance scheme in the State.

He pointed out the State Government will sustain the outreach through the Nasarawa State Health Insurance Scheme passed into law by the Engineer Sule administration.

Dr Kigbu and Permanent Secretary Nasarawa State Ministry of Health, Dr Janet Angbazo

On his part, Dr. Joseph Haruna Kigbu, disclosed that he assembled one of the best medical teams comprising of a former acting CMD of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), two neurologists, a plastic surgeon, who participated in the separation of Siamese twins at the ATBU Teaching Hospital in Bauchi and a goitre surgeon.

According to Dr. Kigbu, DOTMA has been operating in the country for 17 years, having worked in 22 states of the country.

The Chief Executive Officer of DOTMA, Dr Joseph Haruna Kigbu, who is better or popularly known as Doktan Talakawa, meaning Doctor for the Poor, earlier spoke whereby he gave an overview of the services being rendered

He said: “Your Excellency the caliber of people assembled here to render services to the people of Nasarawa South, are people that are amongst the best in their respective areas of specialization. We have Prof Ramil, Prof Legbo, Dr. Makama and Dr. Kefas. Your Excellency Professor Ramil is a teacher, teachers. He was former acting Jos University Teaching Hospital. Professor Ramil is a Urology surgeon from the University of Jos. Professor Legbo is a plastic surgeon; it is very difficult to get them in outreaches like this. But because they have agreed to honour your government they decided to come.

Dr Kigbu speaking at the opening ceremony

“Professor Legbo, former Dean of Medicine Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, Dr Kefas small but mighty, Dr. Kefas Bwala is a pediatric surgeon, he together with us separated Siamese twin at Abubakar Tafawa Belewa Teaching Hospital, Dr. Makama I call him Sarkin Fulani, Jos; Dr. Makama is also urology surgeon. But in an outreach, we call him goiter surgeon. He plucks out goiter with ease and honestly, he has done some already you will see it in the ward.

“Your Excellency of what good is our knowledge if we can’t share it with these poor ones? Of what good are our skills and talents if we can’t share them with these common ones? Of what good if we are in leadership position and we can’t feel the pains of the people or watch their health? And this is why Doctors On The Move Africa, an indigenous non-profit organization decided to partner with your government.

“We have been working in Nigeria for the past seventeen years. We are in twenty States in Nigeria working and promoting Nasarawa State. Because wherever we go, they say where are these people from? This Hausa Doctors are coming from where? We say Nasarawa State. And we have done big time surgeries successfully that were reported even in the world conferences in Cape Town South Africa.

“Your Excellency this is a mega outreach. The World Health Organization proposes this universal coverage because this gesture is not sustainable in the long run. So universal health coverage is a message for all government in Africa. But notwithstanding we have strong need in sub-Sahara Africa. Number one is because of ignorance; number two is because of poverty and of course poor health seeking behavior. It will interest you today to see a woman in the theatre that has ovarian turmoil she has been carrying for eighteen years going about with it. And if you ask her why didn’t you go to the hospital? She would say she didn’t have money. Why didn’t you go to the hospital she would say if she goes to the hospital she would die. But let me say that this time around these mega outreaches, we are going to work with these senior colleagues practicing medicine in this country to see that we attend to their needs. We have done some of them already.

“We strongly believe that your government will continue to achieve so much in the area of health. This is because I strongly believe you are in the right path. And if you are in the right path you are ready to keep on working then you keep progressing.

“So, Engr. Abdullahi A Sule, you are making progress in Nasarawa State, you are making progress in North Central Nigeria and of course the world at large.

“So, we thank you for this opportunity to work with these ones. Our goal is to see about six thousand patients. I know that we are behind time Your Excellency. But notwithstanding, seeing is believing, we are going to see not less than six thousand patients.

“By the grace of God, we will operate at least three hundred before we go. And as much as cataract patients we see we will also operate. There are other volunteer Doctors who are working at service points, they are not here you will meet them one on one. We want to thank you for this gesture.”

Speaking, the Emir of Lafi, who was represented by the Madakin Lafia, commended the medical team and the organization for thinking it wise to offer such services to people free.

While praying for divine blessing unto the medical team, the Emor of Lafia enjoined the people to avail themselves of the services being offered by the DOTMA.

Represented by the Madakin Lafi, the Madkin Lafia said, inter alia, that “I call on the people to think deep. Think deep of what the Governor has brought to us.

“Your Excellency this thing you are doing, there is nobody to pay you, except God Almighty. Some of the operations, if you go to other hospitals you won’t be attended to except you drop at least a million naira.

“To me, amongst the good works the Governor is doing, whenever I look at them, they are all behind what we are doing here today, because when you go home and meet someone lying critical and he doesn’t have money to go the hospital and you too you don’t have money to go the hospital, then you will start thinking you will die.

“Governor A.A Sule may God bless you. And those of you that will benefit. If you go home start thinking of what you will do to Engineer A. A Sule to know you are grateful with what he has done. You people know I am not a politician. I am saying this because he said they are doing this out of the fear of God.

“Governor A.A Sule this is our Doctor, Dr. Haruna Kigbu he has been doing this kind of work for long. May God bless him and bless the team.”

Before the end of the outreach, the First Lady of the State, Hajiya Silifat Abdullahi Sule was at the Specialist Hospital where she also appreciated the medical team for the services rendered.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the creation of Nasarawa State and the 61st Anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, the First Lady of Nasarawa state visited Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, DASH Lafia on Friday 1st October, 2021.

The First Lady who was accompanied by the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Sheila Tosan Akabe and wife of the Speaker of the State Assembly, Hajiya Maryam Balarabe where she sympathized with beneficiaries of the Governor Abdullahi A. Sule free medical exercise.

Leader of the medical team, Doctor Joseph Kigbu took the First Lady and her entourage round to see those undergoing surgery and those receiving medical treatment after they had been operated upon.

For the five days that the outreach lasted, Eggonnews observed the huge number of people seeking to be attended to. Every point in them line of the services was a beehive of activities as people thronged such places.

It was observed that for as many that were treated, they went home smiling appreciating Gd and DOTMA for the solution to their health challenges.

For instance, the woman had been carrying what the Doctors describe as ovarian turmoil for eighteen years came all the way from Zaria, Kaduna State and was attended to.

When she underwent the surgical operation and was relieved of the condition, she and her relations who travelled with her from Zaria were dumbfounded. All they could do was to shed tears of joy as they could not believe that it could be done.

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