Improving Community Health

In the last two decades, Nigeria's public health care delivery system has suffered deterioration especially in rural areas as evidenced by lack of coordination, service fragmentation, dearth of personnel, including drug, inadequate and decaying infrastructure, inequity in resource distribution and access to quality care. The lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities among the different levels of government also compounds the situation. The Primary Health Care (PHC) delivery has failed to effectively solve the numerous health challenges facing the Nigerian population. There are increasing cases of low uptake of cost-effective interventions for priority public health issues such as non-communicable diseases, injuries, maternal and child health, due to high level poverty and ignorance. Many Nigerians are still patronising traditional healers and local birth attendants due to rising cost of medical treatment and dearth of health personnel.

KEY PROGRAMMES AND ACTIVITIES

·                     Enhancing Access of Community Members to Quality       

         Health Care Services
LAPO believes that poverty is further reinforced by ill-health and has therefore been committed to community health improvement, especially with the LAPO Community Health Outreaches. Since 2015, the programme has been enhancing access of poor and vulnerable people to quality health care services in rural communities.

In 2016, the organization improved the health conditions of 3,233 rural dwellers consisting of 1,504 children and 1,729 adults in Erua, Ugoneki, Utese and Iguiye communities in Edo South Senatorial District covering full medical compliments and surgery. Over 30 medical specialists including doctors, nurses and laboratory scientists were engaged from the University of Benin Teaching Hospitals (UBTH) to provide free quality health services during the programme. Services rendered include medical care and drug administration, child care, gynaecological care, dental care, ear, nose and throat care, treatment of common ailments like body and joint pains, malaria, high blood sugar and blood pressure. Eye care services include screening and the provision of eye glasses to 240 beneficiaries. Free surgical operations were performed on 11 of the community members suffering from hernia, breast lump, ganglion, recurrent appendicitis, fibroid and skin diseases.

The beneficiaries are full of gratitude to LAPO for the community health outreaches and succour received. Some of them have been enduring their deteriorating health conditions for years and simply resigned to fate as they could not afford the high cost of medical treatment.

The case of Mrs Victoria Okoja, a 45-year old mother of two boys in Iguiyi community was particularly pathetic. Her illness took her to various hospitals and even drank several herbal concoctions without getting any better. She became weak and emaciated with a protruded stomach like that of a pregnant woman. She was consigned to this abysmal state for years until the LAPO Health Outreach Programme held in her community in 2016. She was diagnosed with fibroid and subsequently underwent a LAPO-sponsored surgical operation in Benin City to remove the fibroid which had prevented her from getting pregnant for three years.

Mrs. Joy Esiobotete also narrated how the timely intervention of LAPO saved the life of her 6 years old daughter, Happiness Esiobotete. The little girl was diagnosed with two hernias, one in the navel and the other located inside her body. They could not afford the cost of the surgical operation for years and had to resort to local herbs and self medication which proved abortive. Their joy therefore knew no bounds when LAPO came to their community with the Health Outreach programme in 2016. Esiobotete said she went there and complained about the health situation of the child who was subsequently referred to a hospital in Benin City where the surgical operation was successfully carried out. “My child was admitted in the hospital for one week. She is fine now and doing very well. I thank LAPO for coming to our aid. God will continue to bless the organization,” she said.

·                     Ending Malaria for Good
LAPO is engaged in mass awareness creation about malaria and its devastating effect on people, especially pregnant women and children below age five. LAPO organizes rallies and seminars including advocacy engagements with local government health officials and other critical stakeholders to enlightenment them on their roles in the fight against malaria. During such programmes, screening for various health conditions is conducted freely for participants. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials and treated mosquito nets are also distributed freely to vulnerable people.

·                     Promoting Hygienic Practices through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project
Many diseases and conditions can be prevented or controlled through good hygiene including frequent hand washing with soap.

LAPO is committed to improved sanitation and hygienic practicesespecially in Nigeria where the practice of correct and regular hand washing with soap or ash and clean water is uncommon. We participate in the Global Campaign for Handwashing with demonstrations in selected public primary schools with poor access to hygiene and sanitation facilities, thus making them more vulnerable to diarrhoea. The schools are provided with basic hand washing items too.

The campaign reduces the incidence of diarrhea among children, promote regular and correct handwashing practices especially during critical times such as after using the toilet, after cleaning the baby, before feeding the baby or eating.

·                     Joining Forces Against Open Defecation
More than 34 million people in Nigeria are still using the open field, forests, bushes, and bodies of water as convenience. This is responsible for the high rate of diarrhoeal morbidity and mortality with children mostly affected. LAPO is actively involved in awareness creation about the danger and health implications of open defecation. Target community members are sensitized about the importance of toilet usage during rallies and seminars where Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials are also distributed freely.

·         Reaching More People with Health Information via Mobile Phone Technology
LAPO has adopted the use of mobile phone technology to reach target beneficiaries with preventive health information monthly in remote communities across Nigeria. With the technology, community members receive various health information on their mobile phones. Messages include tips on cancer prevention, healthy medication, lassa fever prevention, eye hygiene, child health, health and safety, malaria prevention and safe water.