NIGERIA. Niger: 50-year-old Safiya would have continued living with goitre until she does as she could not afford the N200,000 demanded by the hospital to perform a surgery that would rid her of the growth in her neck.
Safiya who has had the goitre for over six years spends each day in pain as she often finds it difficult to swallow her food and it sometimes gets worse as the pains, when it comes, often takes a whole day which leaves her helpless and unable to undertake any house chore.
Ramat Musa has been in pains for over six months as a result of having appendicitis and sometimes misses going to school due to stomach pains that appendicitis causes.
According to Ramat’s Mother, the hospital had demanded N30,000 to remove the appendicitis for Ramat but the family could not afford it due to family responsibilities.
Ramat’s Mother told Transcontinental Times that they often resort to herbal drinks to subdue the pain for Ramat especially during the period she has Examinations to write.
Then Comes The Relief
For five years, Sani Bello Foundation has been offering free surgical operations to the masses in Kontagora and across Niger state.
The diseases for which the surgical operations are done include fibroid, goitre, hernia, lumps, hydrocoele and eye-related diseases.
For the past five years, the Foundation has done seven medical and surgical outreaches.
Over 8,000 people have so far benefitted from the medical outreaches, out of which over 4,000 general and eye surgical operations have been conducted.
The surgical outreaches which are usually tagged free surgical festival are done in collaboration with the Graceland Healthcare Development Foundation.
These outreaches have been a lifesaver to people like Safiya, Ramat and others who may never have had the opportunity to get relief for their illnesses.
The services offered during the medical outreach include testing and surgeries for fibroid, goitre, hernia, lumps, hydrocoele, cataract while glasses and drugs were given to eye diseases that do not require an operation.
Statistics of General Surgical Outreaches
In 2016, the foundation performed 347 general surgeries and treated 512 cases that do not require surgery.
In 2017, 357 people benefited from the free surgery while 567 benefitted from the non-surgical intervention while in 2018, 330 benefitted from the surgical operations and 618 benefitted from the non-surgical intervention.
In 2019, the Foundation conducted two phases of the outreach out of which 660 people benefitted from the surgical operations, 67 benefited from the eye surgeries, 1000 glasses were distributed while 215 benefitted from the non-surgical intervention.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19, only one phase was done out of which 331 general surgeries were carried out, 75 people benefitted from the eye surgeries and 1000 glasses were distributed.
Giving Free Medical Outreaches is Our Passion – Sani Bello Foundation
The Director-General of the Sani Bello Foundation, Dr Zakari Ikani who spoke with Transcontinental Times during the 7th phase of the medical outreach in Kontagora said that the outreach is the heartbeat and passion of the Founder of the Foundation.
According to him, the Founder, Rtd. Colonel Sani Bello realizes that a lot of people, especially the masses, find it difficult to get a surgical reprieve from life-threatening diseases which is why he began the surgical interventions.
“We embark on these surgeries to help the people because under normal circumstances especially under the current economic situation in the country, a lot of individuals cannot afford to pay the bills demanded for these surgeries.
” Majority of the people who come here are prepared to die and be buried with the diseases because they are hopeless about how to get the funding but because of this free surgery outreach, they get a new lease of life without pains.”
The 7th Phase of the Outreach
For the 7th phase, over 1000 cases were handled out of which over 300 general surgeries and 100 eye surgeries were conducted.
Dr Zakari Ikani said the Foundation had sustained its partnership with Graceland Healthcare Development Foundation, Kaduna for the success of the medical outreach.
Also speaking, the Medical Director of Graceland Healthcare Development Foundation, Dr Toth Joseph Dogo said that an average fibroid operation costs from N150,000 to N300,000 while appendicitis or eye cataract operation costs N20,000 to N50,000.
He said that his Foundation is offering its skills and expertise while the Sani Bello Foundation foots the bills for surgeries and treatment.
“What we are giving is our expertise. When we came from Kaduna, we brought our hospital consumables with us and getting here, we found out that most have been taken care of by Sani Bello Foundation.”
Toth applauded the Sani Bello Foundation for taking up such a life-saving initiative adding that the majority of the operations done cannot be afforded by the masses majority of whom need to take care of their day to day upkeep
One of the beneficiaries, 20-year-old Danlami who was recovering after his surgery expressed his gratitude to the organisation saying that he had been suffering from goitre for the past 10 years.
He said that he heard about the surgery on the radio and though he doubted the initiative, he was surprised when he came as he was operated upon free of charge without any fees charged.
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Another beneficiary, Amina Garba said she had fibroid for over six years and has finally found relief.
Mariam Mohammed who was operated on for goitre said she is a businesswoman adding that she was told that the operation would cost her N250,000 when she went to enquire about it from the hospital.
She added that she had been saving up for the surgery for over two years but has not been able to raise the required amount because family responsibilities come up oftentimes to take up part of the saved money.
Safiya and Ramat are also part of the beneficiaries of the medical outreach as they appreciate the Foundation for helping them to change their lives and allowing them to live a life free of pains.