Investing in universal health care best way to stop malaria – Expert

Precious Ebere is a Community Development Specialist with experience in technology, civic leadership and youth engagement. She is also the co-founder at dotakeaction.org otherwise known as DO. In this interview with ENE OSANG she stresses the need for more action to tackle prevalent health issues in communities

What is your background and did have an influence your involvement in community development?

I am a community development specialist. I have experience in technology, civic leadership and youth engagement. I am also the co-founder at DO (dotakeaction.org), a civic start-up on a mission to build an active community of young and old people taking action to drive sustainable development in their locality.

Over the span of four years, I have worked actively to ensure women, girls, and children, get access to inclusive and quality education, health and equal opportunities through my organisation.

Founded in 2016 and officially registered as a non-profit Foundation in 2018, DO is committed to inspiring, empowering and amplifying action for sustainable development. Our goal is to build an active community of young and old people, especially at the grassroots, by taking action to drive sustainable development in communities.

We are on a mission to get more people, organizations, and communities to take action for sustainable development and make a difference in their community.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 8 and 17 serve as our focal point in regards to the issues that we care about as an organization, and we inspire action for sustainable development across our programs.

We also empower people and organizations with the support they need to take action on our programmes and bring sustainable development to their community.

We deploy strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for brands and businesses across our programmes and also partner for impact with international development agencies, governments and non-profit to achieve more impact.

What informed your recent outreach to Durumi community in the FCT?

In April 2019, working with our grassroots development champion Sandra Onwordi and Innemesit Hanson, we conducted a survey in three communities in Abuja, from the survey conducted and data collated by our grassroots development champions, we discovered the rise of Malaria epidemic has increased by 20 per cent in Durumi, New kuchingoro, and Kiada Sabo communities. These communities lack basic health care facilities. Members of these communities are very vulnerable to communicable and preventable disease.

This epidemic has preventive and controllable measures, so working with our grassroots development champions and a collation of over 10 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as implementing partners the tour was initiated.

The treatment of malaria, typhoid, water borne diseases etc came handy during the tour. The distribution of insecticide- treated nets was no longer possible due to lack of funding. There was sensitization/counselling as well.  To achieve the SDGs in grassroots communities with special emphasis on goal number three: good health and well-being.

This is a community engagement project aimed at addressing the short-term needs of three selected communities in the FCT during the tour and also meant to improve the health of the vulnerable women and Children, through the provision of free medical services.

This is a great way to tackle prevalent health issues in communities, an opportunity to learn, understand and proffer solution to dare need of people in various communities.

 So far, what would you say the organisation has achieved?

We have been able to screen and treat over 207 vulnerable children and 65 men and women for malaria at New Kuchigoro Community including the IDPS and native members of the community.

We had over 25 volunteers and doctors on ground to support the project. We target native community members, including children, women and men. Over 650 vulnerable children and 150 men and women were screened for malaria and hepatitis B at Durumi II Community of Abuja.

We had massive response from volunteers on the project and a total of 45 volunteers supported. However, 10 patients tested positive to Hepatitis B and were given referral to a nearby government hospital to get treated and have the vaccine.

The project got the full political support from the community heads both at New Kuchigoro and Durumi II respectively.

We have been able to provide sustainable livelihoods for over 50 students in Bakatari community, Oyo state, through a rabbit farm in partnership with Guaranty Trust Bank.

We also carried out maternal health outreach at Gaban Tudu (Monkey Village), Dutse, Abuja.

We have trained women through our innovative woman, i-woman, skill acquisition workshop in partnership with Google Nigeria and National Women Development Centre (NWDC), and our DIVA APP, LINKUP and FRISKY APP provides access to sexual reproduction.

Have you faced any challenge?

What we need basically is collaboration of the ministry of health and other national and international partners.

We have shortage of Anti-Malaria drugs and lack Hepatitis B vaccine. We lack financial sponsorship as well as shortage of doctors.

How will you rate government intervention in curbing malaria in the FCT and Nigeria in general?

Malaria is a major public health problem in Nigeria. The federal government of Nigeria has recognised the problem and has been addressing it for years, through primary health care and the National Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of Malaria (NMSP). The government cannot do it alone.  They should involve other stakeholders and civil society organizations to join the fight.

Do you think malaria could be totally eradicated?

Ultimately, investing in universal health care is the best way to ensure that all communities have access to the services they need to beat malaria.

Individual and community empowerment through grassroots initiatives like “Zero Malaria Starts With Me” can also play critical role in driving progress.

How sustainable is your outreach programme against the background that some NGO’s are believed to operate for personal benefits?

Our sustainable strategy project is not a one-off programme; it is a lifelong tour that will happen in various communities in Nigeria. It is part of our DO Good Health and Well-being project targeted at improving the health care goals of grassroots communities and is embedded in our key mandate as an organization. To this effect, we have established long-term partnerships with organizations who have pledged to support the health initiative in supplying drugs, hosting medical outreaches and necessary equipment.

Most of the equipment used during the health outreach tour would be donated to the closest health care facilities. They include glucometer, blood pressure monitor, and weighing scale which are a one-time purchase and can be used repeatedly at various health care facilities in the community.

Routine check-up team will be set up to follow up in the communities visited. We would attract other organizations to run health interventions and programmes for the community following the positive results.

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