Nigerians are some of the poorest people in the world, and every statistical and physical revelation points to that. And this air of a people still needing so much was the first thing that would strike one the moment you take your first step into an average neighbourhood in Ibadan. With sub-sections of family households, every area feels like a covert area with a quite open space.
The first interaction we had was typical. A group of boys smoking in an abandoned petroleum filling station raised eyebrows as we parked our vehicle. Confident that it’s another opportunity for them to sniff some cash out, they were disappointed to know that a very core son of the soil was one of us. Little interactions came afterwards and atypically, an argument did not ensue. This is one of the biggest problems faced by Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) looking to give back to communities – entitled youths who are hardly willing to work.
A peek into the Isokan Compound, Isale Alfa, Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State tells the tale of an inherent lack of basic amenities. Many members of the compound and also, non members trooped out for the programme with a vast majority being the aged. There is a very sharp realisation of the community’s age distribution as kids, mostly aged between 5-10 also came out to have a feel of the free healthcare service provided at that instance.
Canopies and chairs were made available for the programme as some residents of the compound were quick to arrive and see the doctors on hand.
Surreal sights like a hungry, pregnant doe with a distended belly and mud houses were very apparent but the condition of living told the actual problems people in underprivileged communities are facing.
While many of these people have little or no access to ‘appropriate’ medical care, the Health Outreach by the Future Minds Development Initiative (FMDI) provided an opportunity for them to tell their stories.
From high very high blood pressures to endless complaints of osteoarthritis, malaria and body pains, the Public Health practitioners, nurse and other members of the team worked tirelessly to bring some level of panacea to these people.
Their happiness could be heard in their gratitudes and their need for a better life was felt in their occasional impatience as the free services lasted.
The big future Nigeria has is in communities, and it was clearly seen once again as kids flooded the venue, hoping to have a feel of these people who are not of them, but were there for them. Wide grins rented the air at times as characters varied from the extremely loud to the totally quiet.
Mostly women, the Isokan Compound is closely knit and united, with a few differences observed. Other than the need for very close and critical healthcare for the aged, most of the members of that community should be on the state or national social register as their legs can’t push their desires again.
The regular complaints of malaria is largely the fault of the community as their refuse disposal system is not one that is repulsive to mosquitoes. With the nature of the houses there and the high population density observed, they also run a very high risk of contracting communicable diseases if any ever strikes them.
One of the most important parts of the outreach was the teaching of members of the compound how to wash their hands to prevent coronavirus.
While the incidence of the disease has reduced in the past few weeks, a surge is still not impossible, and especially when the ages and conditions of most members of the community are considered, the threat of COVID-19 has to be totally prevented.
Hypertension and diabetes have been found as the leading twin warriors that predisposes COVID-19 patients to death and most of the elderly people tested during the outreach were hypertensive. For as many of the beneficiaries yesterday, who were mostly between the ages of 50-75 and showed hyperglycemia, there was also the potential risk of seeing diabetic patients there. This underlined the need to ensure that locals were taught how to ensure safety of their own lives.
The presence of FMDI in the compound might have helped to bring some succour to them, but a lot more needs to be done for such people with very minimal privileges, and far lesser shots at a good life.