Ushafa community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is small but beautiful. Tucked in-between rocks and blessed with a rich blend of landscape and vegetation, Ushafa is famous for the craft of pottery. But its fame and potentials of tourist attraction has not brought wealth into the beautiful community and, its people struggle to eke out a living.
The story of 48-year-old Mrs Victoria El- Kurah, mother of four and seller of charcoal is the story of the people of Ushafa and the deprivation they faced in getting medical treatment for the various ailments they are afflicted with.
El- Kurah who makes a profit of N1000 a week from her charcoal business with which she feeds her family of six including her husband, who has been out of job for five years, cannot afford to visit the Ushafa Health Centre because she does not have money to pay for treatment and buy drugs.
So when she heard that the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) were in Ushafa to conduct a medical mission where free treatment and drugs would be offered as part of activities to mark the 2021 World Health Day, she and others seized the opportunity to have medical check-up which they have missed for years.
“When you are coming for test you must have money, for the drugs too you must have money to pay. So if you are coming you must weigh yourself. Because I cannot come here (Ushafa Health Centre) free, I must have money for the drugs and test. So when I heard there is a free test and treatment here, I seized the opportunity to come,” she said.
She is not alone. In fact according to Adama Oshekwolo, the public health officer in charge of Ushafa Primary Health Centre, the people because of poverty don’t come to the health centre until the sickness gets to an emergency stage.
Oshekwolo who disclosed that the health centre does not have a resident doctor commended NAS for the initiative.
Her words: “On daily basis people visit the facility but because of poverty some don’t come except when the situation becomes worse, maybe they have been sick for a long time. We don’t have a resident doctor.
“We feel great with the free medical service; it has helped to improve the health of the community members, marking the world health day in Ushafa has helped to improve the health of the community.”
The Capoon of Zuma Deck, Mr Anderson Kolawole Oseh, said the medical mission was one of the ways NAS can use to advocate medical attention for rural communities.
According to him, Ushafa was picked as the venue because of the number of indigent people residing in the community who are sick but cannot afford to go to the health centre because they are poor.
“We know that communities like this one here(Ushafa), you will hardly find drugs or even medical personnel in its primary health center, but we are here with drugs and physicians to look at cases like malaria and other common ailments that we can be able to handle here.
“But in case there are others that cannot be handled here with the facilities we came with, there can be referrals so that they can be handled later.
“But basically being a humanitarian organization, we are reaching out to people who cannot afford drugs and medical care.
“And again as an advocacy group we are using this opportunity to appeal to government that there is the need for funds to be invested in the health sector because of this huge gap that we are experiencing right now so that the ordinary people can be able to have access to good health care facility,” he said.
The Medical Mate of Zuma Deck, Dr Iyke Isinachi disclosed that NAS investigation revealed that people in rural areas do not have access to medical care which informed the decision to bring the medical mission to Ushafa.
“As part of our mission particularly as a non-governmental organisation we want to bring healthcare delivery to the grassroots where people are unable to access quality healthcare as a result of poverty or lack of money as the case may be.”
The medical mission in Ushafa has shown that the poor are not forgotten and with NAS intervention, all hope is not lost.