Monday, January 05, 2009

Helping to give health to the Nigerian people

The health care in Nigeria is in a very bad state. Despite being a very oil rich country, corruption and closed clinics leave the public in ill-health. The money from the oil does not go back into services for the public. Also, many state run health clinics have shut down, as the staff have quit when no pay checks came from the government.

Two Nigerian doctors who received their education in UK have started a charity to help bring health to Nigeria (wiki). Belinda Otas a writer for the BBC, introduces us to the doctors, and what happened on their first visit.

The dire state of Nigerian healthcare has prompted two UK-based Nigerians to form a non-governmental organisation known as the Ibelaw Community Health & Social Care Foundation.

Through the foundation, Dr Ibe Nathans, a medical doctor, and Lawrence Ndulor, a clinical psychologist, offer free primary healthcare to the poor and needy in the Niger Delta - their home region and an area torn apart by poverty and violence despite its oil revenues.


With the benefit of a UK-based education Dr Nathans and Mr Ndulor feel they should be helping other Nigerians who are not as privileged as them. "We tried to see as many patients as we could, and were warmly welcomed," said Mr Ndulor.

"My job was to give them pre-medical counselling to help them prevent disease in future, but also for things like stress and anxiety," he added.

However, tragedy struck just before the team left to return to London.

"In the house where I was staying, in the middle of the night some armed robbers broke in and demanded money, I gave them what I had but they shot me in the chest as they were leaving," said Mr Ndulor.

Stabilised at a local hospital in Nigeria, he was rushed back to London for treatment and had 32 pellets removed from his chest.

"I haven't been back to Nigeria since, but I hope to go back soon," said Mr Ndulor.

On a mission

This has not slowed his partner down and during the past year alone Dr Nathans has visited Nigeria three times, seeing 500 patients on each trip, dealing with health complaints ranging from abdominal pain to measles and malnutrition.

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