Reporters: Ibidunni Thaabitah, Isiaq N. Oluwamayowa, Laja Modupe
The Association of Medical Students University of Lagos (AMSUL) organized a medical outreach on the 29th of October, 2022. It was held at 1, Adeniji street, off Ishaga road Surulere, Lagos. The aim was to enlighten the people of the Ishaga community on the care and prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially Breast Cancer, Hypertension & Diabetes. There were also arrangements for free general medical and dental checkups and free drugs for people who were present.
The health awareness started at about 10:30 am educating the audience about the causes, risk factors and preventive measures of some of the stated diseases. Over 120 people from the community were present and attended to by the medical volunteers. The services offered included Anthropometry (Weight, Height, BMI), Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, general dental consultation, General Consultation, and Pharmacy Stand sharing drugs for vitals (antimalarials, antiulcer, B-complex, antibiotics and others).
Noncommunicable diseases are a result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. The main types of NCD are cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, and diabetes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally and disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries, where more than three-quarters of global NCDs deaths (31.4 million) occur. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying. Detection, screening and treatment as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to non-communicable diseases.
In addition to the health talks by AMSUL representatives, there were also representatives from Oasis Initiative (one of the event partners) who spoke to the audience on healthcare. There were demonstrations on how to detect breast cancer and how to wash teeth properly. The causes of breast cancer did not go unmentioned. The community was informed that breast cancer does not only affect females but males are also liable to it. Some risk factors of breast cancer mentioned are a family history of breast cancer, early commencement of menstruation, ageing and consumption of unhygienic food. Some of the causes of Hypertension and Diabetes mentioned are high intake of alcohol, smoking, malnutrition and a family history of the diseases.
A quick interview with the AMSUL President, Bola Owate at the outreach gave more insight into the reason behind this initiative
What is the reason behind the theme for this outreach?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important to note that Breast Cancer is an easily preventable disease and if caught early, can prevent it from progressing to mortality. The main goal is to bring healthcare services directly to the people and ensure that the average person has access to healthcare.
How was the planning and preparation for the outreach?
We began planning in the middle of the year. We’ve worked with this community a few times, and this year we decided to focus on Breast Cancer and Non-communicable diseases. Planning anything has its difficulties but a good supportive team will eventually make it possible to run smoothly. The success of the event was also with the help of our sponsors and partners (St. Nicholas Hospital, Clinify, Grandville Medical Group, Petrocam, Jacaranda Cancer Centre, ULADS, and The Oasis Initiative).
Do you plan on following up with the people after the outreach?
We are giving out referrals to the people to go to the nearest primary health centre (LUTH, Akerele primary healthcare centre). If necessary, we will give out our contact in case they want to get back to us.
What were the challenges faced for this event and how did you get past them?
Our major challenge during the early stages of planning was finance but we were able to surmount it thanks to our sponsors. Our primary sponsor is Hon. Kazeem Bello (Chancellor Ward E, Surulere Local government) provided the location for the outreach. Another challenge is in trying to put all the services needed by the community in place. Sadly, we were not able to have a stand for eye checkups, but we plan to include it in subsequent editions.
What other words do you have for our audience?
We should all take ownership of our health. As long as we have the proper lifestyle, we can live better lives. To all medical students, we may be students but we have the power to give back to society. We have the knowledge needed to change and transform the healthcare system.