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NYSC: Sustaining Challenges Of Nation-Building In Rural Healthcare

Posted: May 6, 2015 at 4:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oyeniran Apata, Lagos


Developments in our national history gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity”.

Members of the community being screened by Corps medical personnel

Members of the community being screened by Corps medical personnel

Although the scheme has gone through reviews and modifications in terms of prerequisites for participation, it has remained a national pride on many fronts as a potential catalyst to fast-track the country’s development and further strengthens its unity.

Apart from enabling young Nigerians to interact with people from diverse ethnic groups, promote ethnic acculturation it has also continued to be relevant in the conduct of other national assignments as assigned by the government at every point in time.

As the scheme throws its camps open for the 2015 Batch ‘A’ orientation programme nationwide, it is on record that the participation of the scheme and corps members in election duties has restored hope and credibility to the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

To underscore the scheme’s relevance, President Goodluck Jonathan in a message during a passing out parade for 2014 Batch `A’ corps members recently noted that the NYSC had been part and parcel of the success story of Nigeria; its unity and strength.

In a practical demonstration of this relevance, the Lagos State NYSC as part of measures to bring healthcare services close to people living in the rural communities, it collaborated with the Lagos state Ministry for Rural Development to initiate a rural health project.

The programme which was flagged-off at Ese-Ofin, Oto-Awori Local Council Development Area had Itogbesa, Ojota, Ishagira and Egan-Oromi communities in attendance

Speaking during the inauguration of the health initiatives for rural dwellers (HIRD) programme at Ese-Ofin, Lagos State Coordinator, Mr. Cyril Akhanemhe, in his welcome address to stakeholders and the people of the communities, assured them that NYSC will deliberately and maximally utilise the competence and skills of the dynamic and serving youths for national development.

Justifying the deployment of over 50 corps medical personnel for the rural healthcare programme, Mr. Akhanemhe stated that the need increase the impact and expand its values to critical stakeholders necessitated the deployment for positive results.

This he said will be achieved through provision of free health care services and sensitisation of rural dwellers in Lagos state on health and wellness.

He acknowledged the community leaders’ for their efforts in mobilising their subjects for the programme and commended the corps medical personnel for their voluntary services, contending that it will make meaningful impacts in the efforts of the state government to make life worth living for Nigerians.

Speaking on the importance of the programme, Commissioner for Rural Development in Lagos state, Mr. Cornelius Ojelabi explained that it will allow rural dwellers know the state of their health, reduce high mortality rate.

In his words he said, “Bringing a programme like this to the grassroots especially a riverine area where mobility is restricted have complimented the efforts of the government in ensuring quality health care for the people who may not be able to access health care services in a short-while and it will go a long way to enlighten the people about their health status and the need to hold it importantly.”

In his commendation of the initiative of the Lagos State NYSC, Ojelabi described the scheme’s programmes as ground-breaking and resilient.

He commended the corps medical personnel for their sacrifices in the course of serving their fatherland and urged them to continue in the service adding, “If we have youths like these who can be volunteering for a service like this, we can be sure that the massive drifting of people from rural to urban area would be reasonably stemmed.”

Responding on behalf of the participating communities, Mr. Timothy Ojelabi commended the efforts of the organisers of the programme and the corps medical personnel for identifying with the health needs of the respective communities and provides remedies to all health challenges reported.

“Many of these corps members are strangers and are not familiar with this terrain, leaving their comfort environment to embark on a journey on waters is not an easy decision but they have defied all odds to be here. I therefore urge them to continue in this path of national service which in a long time would yield good fruits,” Ojelabi stated.

At the end of the exercise, over 200 people were given medical attention; 10 persons tested positive for malaria, three had High Random Blood Sugar (RBS), 47 had High Blood Pressure, five tested for severe cases of cataract.

In all a total of 47 patients were given treatment for malaria, administered with prescribed drugs gratis.

Carved-out by an encircling body of waters, Ese-ofin, one of the clusters of the communities on the island is bounded in the north by the Atlantic ocean; an environment which can only be accessed by a boat, received the organizers of the programme with open arms as they thronged out en-masse to be examined and screened by the corps medical personnel.

The tourist instincts of the medical corps received a boost as many of them were excited as they traversed round the community in admiration of life of people living in a riverine community.

The Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD), an innovation of the Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General Johnson Olawumi, is expected to reach-out to over 30 core rural areas in Lagos State to aid the accessibility of health care by rural dwellers.

The goal of the programme is to mobilise volunteer corps medical personnel in the provision of basic health care to the rural dwellers, who would under normal circumstances not be able to access medical attention as a result of neglect and remoteness of their location, as well as sensitize the populace on how to prevent diseases and provide first aid in case of emergencies.