[OPINION] Lagos and remodelled Jigi-Bola

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[OPINION] Lagos and remodelled Jigi-Bola

Healthy citizens in a megacity-state like Lagos, are like siamese twins. The paradox reveals that to have a stable Lagos that is economically viable, the health of its residents must be adequately prioritized because of the growing population by which megacities are known amid many challenges that may turn out to be hydra-headed. The fright of incidences of ebola, lassa fever and the covid-19 pandemic is very fresh in the mind of most people till date. Thus, challenges with megacities are not only synonymous with Lagos.

According to World Bank statistics, twenty-five percent of the urban population in less economically developed countries’ megacities lived in absolute poverty. Also in these terrains, what is operative is a dual economy where most of its inhabitants are in the informal sector and outside the tax net.

Given the above scenario, a retinue of disadvantaged conditions persist; perennial transportation gridlock, acute shortage of healthcare, high rate of unemployment, violent crimes and poor sanitary environment to mention a few. The massive population puts pressure on the existing infrastructure and also breeds inequality between the populace. Incidentally, the absence of a healthy environment would hamper the growth and development of any government’s agenda, such as the T. H. E. M. E. S. agenda of the present administration in its pursuit to achieve a greater Lagos.

The state government before now in its overview of greater Lagos had explained to the citizenry that the mantra is about “Making Lagos the twenty-first-century, the fourth pillar in its policy framework co-existing side by side with five other pillars with composite advantages. Among these pillars is health, placed second.

Admitting the importance of health to a people, state or nation, there is no economy without health. Little wonder, the conviction of the state government about the pathways to a virile economy begins with “traffic management and transportation” followed by “health and environment” in ascending order as spelt in its policy framework.

With the health of the residents in Lagos State as a determining factor in its economy, the state government’s remodelled “Jigi-Bola”, a medical mission introduced about twenty years ago by the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by Mr. Governor and Deputy Governor and tagged, BOSKOH- HMI was an empathy to some severe health ailments of several residents in the state with eye and ear preventable impairments. This course designed helps Lagos to continually witness more economic boom considering the improved health of its residents. The step automatically bridge the gap between the rich and poor in the state. The last medical outreach was held on Thursday, 21st July, 2022.

The position of the state government at the event was clear. ” To save her residents from preventable eye and ear impairments that may be due to lack of financial means by residents with chronic health issues as these”, is a resounding effort to reduce inequality among its populace. Especially, when we consider the dynamic feat puts in place to reach out to two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) residents with preventable eye and ear defects at no cost. The sponsors of the BOSKOH-Health Mission International are Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat as Governor and Deputy Governor.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by his deputy, Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat opined the importance of having quality healthcare systems that cut across different age-divide as a cornerstone to having a wealthy state. As he put succinctly, “Health is wealth and a healthy people are the wealth of a nation” justified the landmark effects that the Jigi-Bola initiative had recorded among successive administrations in Lagos State. Mr Governor at the event told the mammoth crowd, that Lagos cannot be apologetic in providing quality healthcare delivery for residents in the State. This assertion sets the present administration to be totally working for the envisioned Lagos in the twenty-first century economy.

Recalling the joy that greeted the restoration of the sights of several residents who were saved from preventable blindness by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the initiator of Jigi-Bola and APC presidential hopeful in the 2023 general elections, the massive impacts recorded by the launch of the Jigi-Bola initiative have made successive administrations after him to crystalize “Jigi-Bola” as an audacious health intervention programme to tackle preventable eye disability, so that the state government can continue to save more lives residing in the state.

The continuation of the free eye programme was remodelled with the inclusion of another sensory organ, preventable ear impairment to strengthen the frontier of healthcare delivery to residents in the state, in a manner that is congenial with these peculiar health challenges. The 2021 and 2022 editions witnessed significant changes with this expansion of the free eye glasses with additional free hearing aids because medical research had acclaimed ear deficiency as one of the most prevalent global sensory disabilities.

The World Health Organization in 2005 estimated that 278 million people globally suffered from hearing impairment and the figure might be 2.5 billion by 2050. It further claims that about 2.2 billion people have near or distance disabilities globally. While at least, one billion or almost half of these cases of vision damage could have been preventable.

According to the International Centre for Eye Health in Nigeria, 1.13 million people aged forty years are currently blind. The report also shows that 2.7 million adults at the age of forty years have a moderate visual injury with additional four hundred thousand adults as severely blind. Early detection is said to be the best saver.

To ensure the success of the health mission in reaching out to residents across the communities in the state, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs was involved in the planning and actualisation of the purpose of the outreach because of its closeness to the grassroots with different platforms such as the over four thousand registered community development associations (CDAs) in the state, markets and other sociocultural groups.

The BOSKOH-health outreach was held simultaneously in some selected eight local government areas of Surulere, Mushin, Somolu, Kosofe, Amuwo-Odofin, Ibeju-Lekki, Eti-Osa and Oshodi. The hallmark of the community-health programme was the opportunity given to the patients to complete their routine healthcare on the same day. Additionally, the health outreach in its three weeks of engaging with these people also monitored their response to treatment from their respective homes.

Given the clinical record of the health initiative at the event, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu said that the health facilitators initially began with one hundred and fifty (150) personnel during its maiden edition in 2019 and grew to nine hundred and sixty one (961) health workers as at 16th July, 2022, preparatory to the flagged off of the fourth event. The medical team was composed of doctors, nurses, optometrists, audiologists, health records officers among others who enlisted for the enormous service that covered markets and police barracks in the selected locations in the State.

The health mission had provided volunteered service for both eye and ear treatment including provision of free screening, free surgeries, free drugs, free eye glasses and free hearing aids to residents. Also, in its achievements was a relative number of twenty thousand cases successfully administered in 2019. The figure moved up to forty-five thousand in June 2021 with eighty-five successful cataract surgeries performed. Now, two hundred and fifty thousand residents who attended the last medical mission had been added to its enviable record.

Being committed to its health framework, the Lagos State Government between 15th-19th August, 2022 embarked on a free general medical check-up for school children aged between 05-15 years across all its secondary hospitals. The programme tagged “Back to School” in each of the general hospitals had thousands of children that were attended to for five days, basically to examine and ascertain their health status and medical fitness in relation to their studies and residences. Many of these children got respite from the massive free health programme. No doubt, the support of the state government had impacted on the total well-being of thousands of kids in the elementary schools and there is a possibility that many of them with physiological and biological barriers would have smooth academic performance as they resume their next season in September, 2022.

Presently, the state government has achieved so much in all its health facilities with global computerization of all clinical records under the new upgrade to Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) hitherto known as Medical Records Office. Under the new system, patients are fred from the burden of carrying manual prescriptions to different clinics, laboratories, pharmacies, visiting business centres to make photocopies of medical prescriptions, getting results manually and taking them personally to consult with doctors. The elimination of these bottlenecks have enhance the state’s healthcare delivery in the twenty-first century economy.

Reuben Hopo is Public Affairs Officer, Ministry of Local Government & Community Affairs

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