CALABAR/Nigeria: The Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, ANPA, in collaboration with the Child Survival Development Organisation of Nigeria, CSDON has on Friday, in Calabar, Cross River State embarked on its annual medical mission, with a combined team of 107 medical practitioners from the Unites States and Nigeria.
This year’s event, which has the approval of the federal ministry of health, began with a virtual training of the frontline team of neo natal practitioners at 9am (3am American time) on Friday by ANPA who also came with medications worth several millions of naira to be administered by 95 medical practitioners in Nigeria that will work in virtual consultation with a team of 52 ANPA members in America..
Chairman of CSDON, Her Excellency, Mrs. Onari Duke, in her welcome address, encouraged beneficiaries of their 12th annual mission to avail themselves of a technology driven registration process, which is the first of its kind in the country that has been put in place to ensure Covid-19 protocol compliance.
Mrs. Duke emphasized that only patients with pre-assigned mission numbers will have access to the specialists, while the ANPA President, Dr. Chris Okunseri, on his part announced that through this collaboration they have purchased over 1000 Covid test kits, as the purpose of their mission is to serve Nigerians, providing continuous education, basic health assessment and care.
In his remarks, the ANPA President, who spoke through webinar on their first ever 10-day online medical mission to Nigeria, said, “This partnership has demonstrated what people can do, when we come together. We have not allowed Covid-19 to prevent us from engaging in activities that promotes our vision of a healthier Nigeria in a healthier world.
“One cornerstone of our organization, ANPA, registered in the United States of America, is to go on medical mission from one state to another in Nigeria. When we get there we are out there providing healthcare services to our families, friends, neighbours and our fellow citizens. This is another opportunity, which could only happen with a very serious partner, CSDON.
He further said, “For this mission, we were able to mobilise our colleagues in Nigeria, including pharmacists, nurses and other healthcare workers under the umbrellas of ANPA and CSDON are coming together to make sure that we can provide the necessary quality healthcare services to our fellow Nigerians.
“We are adhering to all Covid-19 protocols by engaging in another level of technology to enable people to register, which echoes a very strong belief of mine that when you find yourself challenged, you should not dwell too much on the challenges, but think of opportunities to overcome those challenges.
“This mission is another example of how we are doing it through technology innovations. But please be rest assured that we have available expertise out here in ANPA in America. We have as members all specialists you can think of medical expert you can think of dental, general surgery, neuro surgery, cardio and much more. We have everybody at hand to help and support our colleagues in Nigeria.
“We have also embarked on technical methods, we have donated I-Pads that we have sent to Nigeria so that we can have appropriate electronic documentations to conduct our business of providing health services to our fellow Nigerians. Like you also heard from Her Excellency, Mrs. Onari Duke, the mission started a couple of days ago, when we engaged our colleagues in Nigeria in managing a couple of children. And we were presented with some uncommon conditions.
“We were able to get ourselves acquainted with the environment irrespective of not being there on ground with our team. This morning (on Friday) is a clear manifestation of what we can do when we work together. Irrespective of the challenge from technology, our Healthy Baby Survive (HSB) programme took of successfully. We didn’t allow technology to prevent us from doing what we have planned to do, because of commitment from members with passions that were there for all of us.
“In a couple of days, we will continue, we will engage with surgical treatments, our surgical team has been involved with the team back in Nigeria, treating patients and preparing them for surgeries. We have possible need for blood donation. If not ANPA and CSDON will ensure that nobody who needs that care was turned back from getting treatment, because the person cannot afford it. We are also going to engage in the provision of medications.
“Our pharmacy teams both here in America and in Nigeria is much on ground. ANPA have procured all the necessary medications that will be dispensed or prescribed by our experts so that our patients cannot go home without the necessary medications. Be it pains, antibiotic, fever, psychiatric or whatever medications that will be required to provide quality care to our fellow Nigerians.
“ANPA and CSDON have worked out all logistics and we have capable pharmacists here and there are key members also on ground in Nigeria to handle this. We are not ending it there, as we are engaging in educational field, we have a medical sub-committee working with the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Calabar branch and CSDON to ensure that we are able to reach a wide audience of physicians in and across Cross River in particular
“And anyone in Nigeria that wants to participate is welcomed, because technology has allowed us to spread our wings to the extent that we can. We will be engaging in a very robust educational mission with our colleagues in Nigeria. We will be talking about basics and skills will be shared, and anyone who wants to certified we will help those who want to navigate in the skills that they acquired through ANPA they are able to get certificates.
“ANPA has not allowed Covid-19 to deter it to be part of the solution; as a result, I am glad to announce that through this collaboration and the generosity, passion and commitment of our members, ANPA have purchased over 1000 Covid test kits, as part of this medical mission. We have 500 already in Nigeria and will be sending additional 700 of such kits in a couple of days, because we want to be part of the solution.
“We don’t want to speak only when things go wrong; we also want to participate in getting the solution. To get Covid test done in Nigeria you have to spend about fifty-five thousand naira. Not everybody can afford that amount of money”.
Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs. Duke, while expressing her gratitude to all the volunteers who will be spending sleepless nights for the next nine days, said, “Beneficiaries should endeavour to have a mission number during the registration exercise, as anyone without such number should not bother to come as such a person will not be attended to. So in the comfort of your home, you will be able to register for your treatment.
“Consultations have been held between our doctors, medical officers and specialists in the United States. How wonderful to have that happens so quickly and easily. During the screening and diagnosis, the doctors here is able to connect with the specialists in America. Distance has not been a barrier at all, as we are seeing much more patients than before, in a much more organized fashion.
She also said, “We are excited about it as this is going to be the new frontier of outreach for medical mission in Nigeria. We are happy to be in the forefront as this is breaking the barriers in reaching out. With this process of registration it clearly reinforce the fact that it is easier when people register online, as most people were able to register online..
“We are encouraging every one of us to tell our people to go and register. Interestingly, even if the person is an illiterate there must always be someone around to help out, and if you have a phone, you will receive your confirmation by test messages as we make it as simple and straightforward as possible, as we make it as seamless as possible as we want to continue with help we are reaching out for”.
“My gratitude goes to all the first set of medical team, who were part of the training this morning, also to ANPA to have started training at 9am Nigerian time on Friday, we should applaud you and congratulate you for waking up at 3am for the training.”
Also speaking, the Director General of the state Primary Health Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, who expressed the government appreciation to Mrs. Duke for always coming up with initiatives and interventions that helps in not only improving the health of people in the state but also in terms of our economic socio welfare, and supporting the government at all times.
She said, “I want to also appreciate all the doctors ANPA, CSDON and others organisations that are colaborating to ensure that this intervention coms into Cross River State. For us it is a thing of joy, especially as we are facing this worrisome pandemic, which has ensured that utilization of services and especially assess to care have actually reduced drastically.
“This was basically due to the fear of people contracting the dreaded disease and lack of financial backing has seen people visiting healthcare facilities. Economy has really been a huge challenge to healthcare, so whenever we have this kind of opportunity we don’t let it slide as it helps to reach out to the down trodden, to see that they get the kind of healthcare that they need. That is why I am indeed grateful for this intervention.
“This technology innovation is laudable as it has not allowed the pandemic to hamper the your annual mission in the state, and you have been able to flow with the tide by finding ways round it to meet some of our healthcare needs of our people, we very grateful for that. The state government is glad that we are having this here; we totally pledge our support, to see that everyone who deserves to have the necessary care would be reached.
“Our goal as an agency is to see that about seventy percent of Cross Riverians have access to this project. We will see how we can mobilize people from the grassroots that is why we must work with you to ensure that through our community health workers who are in every community in the state that knows those in need of this intervention will be able to mobilize them, through the designated centers across all the local government areas.
“We have also ensured that information has been disseminated to all the local government areas, and already a lot of the people are already expressing interests. We want to reiterate the fact that we have medical personnel who will be on ground to support this process to ensure a huge success.
“We also have the ability to conduct Covid tests here in the state, so shouldn’t rely just on tests kits, but encourage that people should go to the government labs to get tested as the it is totally free. I assure you that we will support this process as we need to see that have a healthy society.
Some members of ANPA who spoke from their America base also expressed their support for the mission.