Imelda James-Dike, student of the Nursing Department, Edo State University, is Miss Health Nigeria. In this interview with ENE OSHABA, she speaks on her passion for improved healthcare especially for the less privileged and particularly for People Living with Disabilities (PWD’s).
What informed your decision to contest for the Miss Health pageant position?
I contested in the Miss Health pageant because I wanted to the touch the lives of the less privileged in the society.
In school I saw how my mates take their health for granted and I said to myself, if people who have access to education can be this ignorant what would be the situation with the less privileged?
So, when I saw the opening for the Miss Health contest I knew I should be in that pageant because I knew I had what it takes to change the status quo regarding healthcare in my school and the society at large.
What does being Miss Health entail?
The position of Miss Health entails creation of health awareness for the public and using the platform of Miss Health to look out for those philanthropists that can render help to the less privileged.
Has winning the pageant affected your studies considering responsibilities that come with it?
It doesn’t affect my studies. I have time for my studies, it’s a matter of planning my time and schedule. I always plan my project to fall within the holidays so they don’t have to clash with studies.
What are your achievements as Miss Health?
Yes, I have achieved a lot because as Miss Health you are also a health care provider, set to create awareness on diseases for Nigerians and proffer means of eradicating these diseases.
In my little way, I was able to carry out some projects despite the outbreak of Covid-19 and I have also impacted on the Society with other projects I done.
And I can say I used the platform to create a Foundation in order to continue my passion of contributing to the society and creating health awareness.
Most pageant winners embark on charity project but they don’t continue afterwards. How sustainable is your projects?
I am very passionate with my work and I have a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best in what I do.
I am very ambitious and highly organised. I love continuity and that’s why I now have an NGO that will enable me continue health projects and interventions when I finally handover as Miss Health Nigeria.
You are vying for the Humanity Ambassador position, why do you want to be the ambassador?
As Miss Health I am a Health Ambassador. So, I want to still be Humanity Ambassador for continuity purpose.
What changes will you bring if you emerge winner?
Looking at our society today, there are lots of people suffering from different diseases due to lack of knowledge of their health status. So, if by God’s grace I win I shall carry out health awareness campaign across the 36 states including the FCT.
I will also form a community to raise orphans disabled persons in the society.
How would you access Nigeria’s health system?
The problem is that people don’t value their health and so most people live daily on assumption that they are healthy.
A lot of Nigerians are not health conscious. Most importantly, we don’t have adequate standard hospitals and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) doesn’t cover most of the expensive drugs in the hospital.
So, people prefer going for local medication which is cheaper or affordable but has health hazards in most cases. So many people don’t know their health status.
What is your call to government on the situation?
Government should create more awareness on terminal diseases like High blood pressure, Diabetics, Hepatitis and more, because these are very common ailments with most citizens today. From most health outreaches I have been involved in people suffer this without even knowing and I must say God loves Nigerians because you will see most people with one sickness or the other yet going about their daily activities. If there is enough awareness and a lot of lives would be saved because most deaths is out of ignorance.
Government should build more health care facilities, most especially in the rural areas, and also provide healthcare workers for those facilities.
Where do you vision yourself in future?
I see myself as a Minister of Health, a minister that will ensure that all Nigerians have equal access to medical care.
I see myself as a minister that will ensure that people living with disability are recognised and taken care of.
Health they say is wealth, my dream is to enable more wealthy Nigerians who can think better and ensure the growth and development of Nigeria, a Nigeria that will also become a centre for medical tourism to other countries.
You have expressed deep concerns about people with disabilities, what is the motivation?
What motivates to care deeply for people with disabilities is that I feel they are neglected by the government, most especially during the Covid-19 outbreak when in actual sense they deserved more attention considering their physical challenges.
There is the belief that girls join pageants for fame and money. How would you react to this?
Yes, it may be true because some people lack vision and knowledge. The Bible says: My people perish for lack of knowledge. For me, apart from the privilege of being a beauty queen, I use the platform to render help to the general public because helping people is a passion I have had right from my younger years.
I always feel happy and fulfilled when I am able to give. It is my earnest desire to have more so I can touch more lives and becoming an ambassador is one way of achieving this dream.
I’m using this position to advocate and canvass for interventions for the less privilege who are really in disadvantaged position yet can’t do much to change their conditions.
Would you say you are living your dream?
My inspiration is derived from the way people living with disabilities are neglected in the society. If am given the opportunity to serve my nation, they will be my priority and my outmost concern. I thank God because this dream to help them is being actualised.
As Miss Health Nigeria I was able to distribute wheelchairs to people living with disability in some communities in Abuja and I also organised medical outreaches to various institutions and churches.
More so, what inspired me was being a well trained specialised nurse who uses her career and not just her career as a nurse but my Foundation to also nurse people who are in need of support financially and health wise back to health, and act as an instrument of change who can guide them towards an enhanced way of living.
Yes, with the little I have done and achieved I can say am living that dream but yet to achieve that goal and dream in full.
Are there challenges you faced and how did you surmount them?
Yes, I had a lot of challenges. It was difficult getting sponsors; most of my projects were sponsored by parents. Just few people helped out. I submitted proposals in some government establishments but they were not approved because of Covid-19 outbreak.
In fact, the outbreak of Covid-19 was my major challenge. Now that the coronavirus is easing off I am working out ways to push for those proposals and that is part of why I am vying for the Humanity Ambassador position so I can use that platform to source for funds for medical interventions especially in rural communities.
Would you say pageantry adds value to the growth and development of Nigeria?
Yes, it does. Pageants like Miss Health and Humanity Ambassador are not like just any other pageants because both are about improving health of citizens.
The position can be utilized for the benefits of the general wellbeing of the citizenry through awareness creation on health, education campaigns on health issues, including prevention.
When the coronavirus broke out most Nigerians were ignorant about it and so didn’t believe it was real until deaths were being recorded.
Even with updates of health by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 many Nigerians believed it was another way of deceiving them but in my little way and with information I gathered from credible Nigerian and non-Nigerian media organisations I educated people via my social media platforms.
I always have updates on the virus and I kept reminding people the need to adhere to the safety measures because it is real and I got commendations for that.
What are your hubbies and how do you spend your leisure time?
I’m an entertainer. I love dancing and singing. I am also an athlete and I’m good at football, sprinting, volleyball and long jumps.
Most of my holiday periods are spent on doing these activities and going on health outreaches as well. I believe in keeping fit and engaging in sports because it is fun for me.
What message or advice do you have for Nigerians?
Nigerians should be health conscious. They should always know their health status and seek medical care from the hospitals