United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF)

The Canadian government, through the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), has embarked on the provision of free medical services to some remote villages and communities in Taraba State.

Working in collaboration with the Taraba State Primary Health Care Development Agency (TSPHCDA), they have
provided medical facilities to children under the age of five and mothers, particularly nursing mothers, in the hard-toreach villages and communities.

According to 20-year-old mother of three, Mrs. Esther Markus, whose fivemonth-old baby had been vaccinated for the first time, the is not only a life saver, but also a hope for the future of the com- munities.

“My baby is five-months-old, but this is the first time we are coming for vaccination. I learnt that the team was here on a number of occasions before now, but I was in my farm during their previous visits. So I could not come. I am glad that finally, my child is going to be fine,” she declared happily.

“You can see the rashes on his skin, but I cannot take him to Baissa for treatment because it is too far and you will have to spend a lot of money getting a motorcycle to take you there,” she explained.

In Kurmi Local Government Area, located miles away from the headquarters, it costs about N3,000 to hire a motorcycle from Gidan Danjuma to the local government headquarters in Baissa.

“It also a horrible journey down to the local government headquarters, an agonizing three-hour ride through a terrible forest path and a canoe-ride through a running stream,” she recounted.

“The overall cost of the journey, at times, outweighs the medical services to be availed you,” she stated.

Thirty-two-year-old pregnant mother, Mrs. Grace Thomas said she could not go to Gembu, the council headquarters, for the necessary medical care for fear that her unborn baby might decide to come while she is on the road to the headquarters.

“It is not as if we don’t want to go to Gembu to access good medical services for ourselves and our children, but the cost is too much and one could end up having her baby prematurely on the way to the headquarters,” she stated.

“The road is very bad and the ride on motor- cycle is too bumpy for a pregnant woman. That is why this programme is very important to us, very very important to us.

“Rather than allow us to travel to the headquarter, they bring the services to us. If there was anything we could do to make sure that they don’t go at all, we would do.

Since they started coming, my children have been vaccinated and all the minor health challenges that we usually ignore are now taken care of,” she said.

Leader of the team for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH), Dr. Benjamin Andeyaba, said the communities were carefully chosen so that the mothers and their children would have access to quality health care, despite the remote nature of their villages and the economic status.

“This programme specifically targets communities that are rather unconventionally so remote that most of the people, especially mothers and children, have little chances of accessing medical care.

“You can see that for most of the villages we have visited, there is no medical facility close by and you would appreciate the difficulty in accessing these places.

In most cases, the people in these areas often resort to self-help which could be very fatal, especially when dealing with the under-5s and nursing mothers.

“What this programme seeks to do is to bring these services to the people right at their doorsteps so that we can save them the stress of having to travel for several hours to the nearest town for vaccination and immunization for instance and for treatment of minor health issues such as cough, scabies, fever, diarrhea and others.

Dr. Andeyaba said the need to embark on free medical services to rural dwellers in selected local government councils in the state have become imperative in order to eradicate the child killer diseases.

He stressed the determination of UNICEF and its development partners to put smiles on the faces of rural dwellers by providing them with free medical out reaches, and the need for community leaders and other stakeholders to key into the programme to enhance its sustainability.

While collaborating the team leader’s view, a medical personnel charged with the responsibility of reaching out to the people, Bello Mako lauded the efforts of the UNICEF and its partners, expressing their willingness to go extra a few miles to provide health care to children and women dying from curable ailments.

Some of the village heads lauded the gesture of the international organization, which according to them, has gone along way to saving the lives of the people of their communities.

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