Health is a complex process and its production is even more intricate in all ramifications even from the context of social science. The World Health Organization (WHO) made the concept quite dramatic with its utopian definition that seeks to make health a judge, juror and arbiter combined together. How else does one figure out the far-reaching influence of health that is solely defined as the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity? Thus, it is not surprising that most of the human development indices are directly or indirectly linked to public health. So one may not be wrong to argue that one key indicator to how well developed a nation is, should be the “health of the nation”. This makes the drivers on the wheels of health system envy of everyone but darling of the populace, when the going is good.
About 2 weeks ago, I was monitoring a medical outreach program organized by the Mainstream Foundation (MF). The Foundation, which is owned by one of the biggest power generation companies in Nigeria called Mainstream Energy Solution (the concessionaire of Kainji and Jebba hydroelectric power plants), is set out to be a big player in improving people’s lives. In collaboration with the pet project (Raise Foundation) of the Niger State First Lady, they reached out to thousands of people in Amfani, Rofia, Gbajibo villages, etc in Agwara, Magama, Mashegu, and Mokwa local government areas of Niger state. The distribution was quite outstanding, I must confess. And the menu of services rendered to the needy was quite rich. Patients undergone hernioraphy, hydrocoelectomy, cataract extraction, refractions, antenatal and perinatal care, glaucoma screening and treatment, breast, cervical and prostate cancer screenings, dermatology care, diabetes care, hypertension care, sanitation and hygiene, nutritional support, and health education to mention but a few. One would not be surprised by the large turn out of people at the 3-day long event considering that iceberg phenomenon is a known concept in public health. But the joy radiating from the beneficiaries’ faces was infectious to epidemic proportion.
As a doctor, I welcome programs like this. It is only by extending the strong net of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wide enough to capture health-care services that we can one day boast of achieving health for all. Government alone cannot guarantee us health-care. Therefore, communities and organizations have to come in regularly and bridge the yawning gap. Community ownership here is not only vital but is the key to our el-Dorado.
I am thankful to my dear friend, Maria Shehu, for drawing my attention to this selfless service to community. Maria is also a philanthropist par excellence. She derives only absolute joy in seeing other people happy. Little wonder that she handled the logistics of such a critical program with dexterity of a surgeon and tender hands of a loving mother. One impressive thing about this Foundation and its activities is that things are done in a quite discreet and professional manner. There seems to be no flamboyance in its modus operandi and nothing like media hype features in its dictionary. It is for God and country- and so it seems to remain always.
I understand that the founder of this Foundation derives inspiration from the philanthropic gestures of the computer wizard and world crowned richest man, Bill Gates. Gates is not only leading the world in terms of fortunes but he is nulli secundus in philanthropy. The impact of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is seen virtually everywhere in our health system, from polio eradication campaigns, malaria control, HIV/AIDs, maternal and child health, public health nutrition to routine immunization. Hopefully, we will soon see this Foundation toeing similar path to actualize greatness like its alter ego. After all if you remove B and G from BMGF, you would have MF. You can do it.
Yes, you can (apologies Obama)!
Mr Musa can be reached at [email protected]