It was enjoyment galore, last weekend at father Damian’s memorial leprosy and TB centre Nnewi in Nnewi North Local government area of Anambra state as the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, staff of the State Ministry of Health, including a California based Non Governmental Organisation, RiSE Clinic, dined and wined with the people leaving with leprosy in the State.

The governor who visited the centre with  all sort of consumables, disinfectants, toiletries including bags of rice, beans, food, spices, blanket, clothing materials, foot wears and numerous drugs said the essence of the visit is to interact with the patients and to show them love, especially in this Lenten period that coincided with the world leprosy day.
There hope of survival were also boosted as the governor who was represented by the state commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike assured them that their dilapidated structure will soon been revamped as the state government is not relenting in partnering with the church in providing quality health care services to the citizens.
He assured them that leprosy can be cured provided the patients agree to take their medication according to specification, even as he urged them to tell others who are leprosy patients in various villages and communities to come out as they will be treated free of charge.
“This is the only centre where the neglected tropical diseases like leprosy and TB can be treated and that is why we are working hard to ensure that this place becomes a reference point for all the tropical diseases and other related issues.
“This government has spent over N448million in mission hospitals and clinics alone in this state. So, our intervention in this centre will surely witnessed aggressive transformation” he assured.
Responding, the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hillary Okeke thanked the State government for the initiative but regretted that the gigantic facility in the compound collapsed due to lack of government support.
“In the recent times, the State ministry of health does seem to have slacked in their response to providing health care services to the PALS. This evidences in the fact that nurses that were posted on secondment to work in our health facility are no more coming and this has contributed to the near collapse of our health facility due to lack of government support” he said.
Bishop Okeke, who spoke through the Health Coordinator of  the clinic, Rev. Fr. Simon Adigwe also stressed that people leaving with leprosy and leprosy related activities where somehow relegated to the background and forgotten in the state by the ministry of health.
“This utter neglect accounts for the poor health condition of the  PALS and the health facilities that provide health care services to the PALs” he noted.
He however commended the governor, Chief Willie Obiano, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike and the State Leprosy and TB officer, Dr Isreal Enemmuo for approving the centre for this year’s visit, which he described as unprecedented.
Some of the leprosy patients, Agnes Okolie, Martin Nwabuonu, Olariwaju Junior (from Ibadan) poured encomium on the State government and urged them to make the visit a regular one as they have been abandoned for years.
Agnes Okoli, who revealed that her own case of leprosy was detected about  40 years ago, noted that it will be difficult to tell the world the stigmatisation and neglect they have suffered for years, even from the government before Obiano’s administration decided to come to their aid and asked God to bless him and his family.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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