By Hamza Waziri

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t is said that “A healthy society is a wealthy society”, but, sadly, the people at the rural areas languish in ill-health and are desperately poor.

    For someone living in the rural area to have access to health centre, it is like journeying to Makkah on foot. First, you have to think about transportation; how much it would cost. Just imagining how you are going to navigate the difficult terrain to the nearest hospital itself can be demoralizing. indeed, it can worsen the health condition. And then when you have braved the odds to get to the health facility, your troubles are not over yet. When you have been diagnosed, you have to think about the scary bills to pay.
     Therefore, for some, it is better to save their time and money and patronise the traditional healer, who is using archaic and sometimes ineffective methods of treatment passed down to him by his forefathers, rather than go through the tedious stress to access orthodox medicine.
      Government is trying her best to ensure that more people get easy access to health care delivery centers but even the government is overwhelmed with the issue, hence the need for all hands to be on deck to salvage the problem. Well-to-do individuals in the society must join hands with the government to complement her efforts in order to save more lives from the oft-preventable diseases. And sincerely speaking, people are suffering from preventable diseases, which cause high mortality rate, especially, at the remote areas.
      Recently, some doctors performed what some villagers termed ‘magic’ on one, Baba Nma, who is over 60 years old, from Etsu Audu ward of Gbako Local Government Council, in Niger State. The old man was lifted on the arms of his two sons to the venue of a medical outreach in his village where doctors gave free medical consultations and medications, because he could not walk. He was languishing in an alien disease for more than six months! However, when the doctors diagnosed him, they discovered that he was suffering from multiple afflictions: Parkinson disease, diabetes and hypertension. After his diagnosis, he was given some medications and asked to lie down for a while. Lo! And be hold! The villagers, who had given up hope on the poor old man, breathed sighs of relief, as he got up on his feet and began to walk without any support! This feat was made possible by the grace of Almighty Allah, through the Medical Outreach programme, run by Hakima Empowerment Centre, a Non Governmental Organization ( NGO), in collaboration with a great philanthropist, Hon. Suleman Umar, who has been privately impacting on the lives of his people for the past three decades. He started the large scale humanitarian intervention, after entering into partnership with the NGO. The medical outreach from which Baba Nma benefited was the second in the series of planned interventions for the people of Bida, Katcha, and Gbako Local Governments in Niger State. The first phase of the programme, which took place in Katcha Local Government Area, last year, gave an insight into what is happening in the rural areas in terms of their health status. Many people were suffering from various ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, hernia, Parkinson disease, appendicitis, and sickle cell, and were unaware of what it was. Some had eye problems, typhoid or malaria fevers, which did not abate after several visits to the herbalist or traditional healer, and they had resigned to fate. Undoubtedly, many had died from these ailments, which were treatable or manageable.
    Little wonder! The beneficiaries could not control their emotions, as they rained praises and prayers on the programme sponsor, Hon Umar. One of the beneficiaries, 60 year old Hajiya Ramatu Usman, who lacked adequate adjective to describe the gesture, declared that it was the first time the people of Etsu Audu village would be benefiting from such humanitarian effort.
    Meanwhile, fielding questions from pressmen, the sponsor of the medical outreach programme, Hon. Umar, explained that the medical outreach programme, which is targeting new health risks in rural communities, such as hypertension and diabetes, was aimed at assisting the common people to diagnose their illness condition and to offer drugs to manage them, so that they can live a healthier life. “As you know”, he said, “these diseases immobilise sufferers and render them economically inactive and poor. Health is wealth, so goes a common saying, and by doing this we want a healthier and richer community, where everybody has self-contentment and is happy.” He pledged to bring more medical outreach interventions to the rural communities to address common ailments, such as  malaria and typhoid, which kill many people, adding that although, they targeted 600 people, they will try as much as possible to attend to everybody.
      He then called on the three tiers of the government to double their efforts in providing effective, quality health care delivery to the citizenry, especially, to the rural dwellers, as he also admonished the corporate bodies and rich individuals in the society to complement the government efforts.
     There is no doubt that what Hon. Suleman Umar, in collaboration with Hakima Empowerment Center, is doing is commendable and worthy of emulation, if not for anything, to assist the needy for the sake of our Creator. The way our people, especially, the youths are suffering from hernia, calls for urgent intervention, if food production and community wellbeing were not to be affected adversely. The situation is approaching epidemic proportion. At Lemu, a 15 year old boy came forward and was discovered to have hernia. In fact our investigation reveals that a lot of men are suffering from the same condition, but unable to afford the cost of diagnosis and treatment. This is why Hon Umar’s intervention seemed God-sent to them, and many beneficiaries said the sponsor had etched himself indelibly in their heart.