On the 19th of October 2022, RedAid Nigeria team comprising Community Based Inclusive Development Officers, a Medical Doctor, Communication and Fundraising Officer and a representative of the State Ministry of Health embarked on an on-the-spot visit to Ugba settlement near Caritas University off Emene Airport in Enugu East Local Government Area in Enugu State.
Few days before the visit, the Communication and Fundraising Officer of RedAid Nigeria drew the attention of the Management of the organization to a video documentary trending online (social media) where RedAid Nigeria was tagged. The video contained clips showing inhabitants of Ugba settlement opposite Caritas University with various health and social economic problems.
As a result of this, RedAid Nigeria carried out an on-the-spot assessment to interact with the community members and identify gaps for possible intervention and collaboration with other partners. The visiting team were taken round the community for an on the site assessment. The first point of call was the community’s only source of water which was a stream located few meters away from the community. This is the only available source of water in this community for drinking as well as other activities of daily living such as cooking and washing. This water is in a deplorable condition, dirty and not fit for health and human consumption. The community does not have an alternative source of water; therefore, they are left with no option than to make use of the dirty and unhygienic water.
Another striking scenario that drew the attention of RedAid Nigeria team were the children met during the visit. A lot of this children were not in school. Enquiries made revealed that the reason why they are not in school is that their parents are not able to pay for their school fees. The children appeared malnourished and not properly fed. The team visited the home a particular child who has been severely sick. The story shared by the parents is that the child is 15 years old. He has been at home with no medical care. The parents told the team that the sickness started 7 years ago. They took him to a private hospital but due to the high cost of the hospital bills, they could not continue with the treatment. The child has been at home with the sickness and there has been no improvement. During the assessment, the medical doctor reported that the child is highly malnourished and is suffering from a medical condition known as Marasmus. The parents were further interviewed to ascertain history of the child’s medical condition.
The team moved together with the mother and child to a paediatrics hospital for diagnosis and treatment. A Professor of Paediatrics on call at the hospital requested that the case is a severe one and rather referred the child to another Professor of Paediatrics in University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu. The child has been admitted in the hospital and treatment commenced.
The story of the child and intervention of RedAid team was the high point of the visit, however the community leaders were interviewed on the existing structures in the community. They reported that the community has no health centre, there are 2 Patent Medicine Vendor’s (PMVs), and there is a government primary school. There are about 151 households with an average of 6 children per household in the community.
At the end of the assessment, the following gaps were identified:
- Non availability of clean water: The only source of water in the community is a nearby stream which is dirty and unhygienic for human consumption.
- Medical care: Various health challenges were identified during the assessment such as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) for instance Lymphatic filariasis (LF) etc. in addition to the huge non-communicable diseases burden in the community.
- Poor nutrition and hygiene: Most of the children as well as the community members were looking malnourished. Also, the hygienic condition of the community is poor due to poor access to clean water.
- Poverty: The rate of poverty among the community members is high. The young men and women met during the visit had no visible source of income, they relied on the small farming they do to take care of the needs of their family.
Based on these findings RedAid Nigeria has planned the following as next steps: There will be a short term and long-term plan for the community.
Short term plan is as follows:
- Health outreach: Health and medical outreach will be carried out in the community by second week of November 2022. This outreach will require the support and involvement of medical practitioners, paediatricians and other public health workers as well as volunteers and philanthropists to support in this course.
- Food: Provision of food for each household during the health outreach.
Long term plan would be:
- WASH: This will involve working together with partners in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to find a lasting solution to the water and hygiene needs of the community.
- Back to school programme for every child in the community: The attention of the State Ministry of Education as well as other philanthropists will be drawn to the educational challenge in the community with the plan to promote access to education for every child in the community.
- Health post: There is an urgent need for a primary health to build on the existing poor health infrastructure.
- Socio-economic development interventions: There is need to work with other development partners and well-meaning members of the society to support the community members on various skills acquisition and livelihood activities to establish a sustainable source of income.
We visited the Ugba community of Amorji Nike, Enugu East LGA, Enugu State on Friday 16th December 2022 with food items and WASH materials. Many other Organizations were also there to carry out different interventions from Medical check-ups to distributions of clothes, food items, and Sanitary pads. We wish to recognize their efforts, they are; Initiative for Girls and Women Enlightenment (IGWE), Town Crier Initiative, and Friends of Jesus Caritas Foundation. The State Ministry of Health sent officials from State TB, Buruli Ulcer, and Leprosy Control Program (STLCP) and Malaria Program.
We appreciate the support of everyone that donated to make this a reality.