NANNNA: When Quality Healthcare Goes Rural
— By Ojiaku KaluNational Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA], the professional body of all practicing nurses of Nigerian descent resident in the continent of North America founded in 2008, held its annual medical mission invarious states of the country from 2nd – 8th of January, 2024.
The 2024 NANNNA team for Abia State led by Dr. Mrs. Ngozi F. Mbibi– DNP, RNC-OB, MA, FWACN, FAAN[Minnesota] tagged Abia Health Mission 2024in collaboration with the Abia State Government and the Federal Medical Centre [FMC] Umuahiaunder the focal theme:Taking Health Care To Grassroots.The other members of the 2024 NANNNA team include:Dr. Mrs. Charity Enwere – DNP, RNC [New York]; Mrs. IfeyinwaAlozie – MSN, BSN, RN [New York]; Dr. Gabriel Prince Maduabuchi – MBA, MHA, BSN, RN, PHD [ABD] – Pennsylvania; Dr. AdaNkoronye – [Orlando, Florida]; Dr. NkiruArchiniru – [Florida].The body’s programme of events began in Umuahia, the capital city of the state,on Tuesday January 2 with a courtesy call on the Chief Medical Director [CMD] of Federal Medical CentreUmuahia, Prof.AzubuikeOnyebuchi. The CMD in his welcome remarksextolled NANNNAas a body of great ambassadors of their country of origin – Nigeria, and urged it to keep up the momentum –giventhat their annual medical mission has over the past 16years saved countless lives of the local populace – especially those living in remote rural communities consisting of the poorest of the poor whoneither can access quality medical care; nor canafford the cost whenever available.
She however hinted that while this sum from NANNNA may not complete the entire project, it would often be of great assistance toward achieving the set aim – with the concerned NANNNA member providing the shortfall where necessary.
Already, 12 PHC centres have been adopted, upgraded and equipped with the needed incidentals across the federation since 2019 under the activities of the body. NANNNA’s medical mission began in 2008 with the ‘’Take Us To Your Village’’ initiative – which was limited to (only) medical outreaches;and finally progressed to the present ‘’Adopt A PHC’’ initiative – where community is gifted a physical structure for a clinic – equipped, and used as a referral health centre by community members. Among its many achievements since inception, NANNNA was highly instrumental to the writing of the current operational guideline for conducting medical missions in Nigeria – in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other professional health bodies in the country. The body also uses these renovated and equipped PHC centres as referral clinics for respective community members by encouraging them to go there for routine checkup instead of patronizing quacks and unhygienic places for their health needs. Other presentations at the indoor exchange came in such titles as: Hypertension – Causes & Management [by Dr. Madubuchi Prince Gabriel];Managing Type 2 DiabetesWith Diet & Exercise [by Ms. ChiagbenweEnwere – MPH]; whileMrs. IfeyinwaAlozie taught on the topic: Strategies For Improved Mental Health & Substance Use. On his impression of the works of NANNNA so far, the Abia State Commissioner for Health — Dr. NgoziOkoronkwo, represented by the State Director of Nursing Services, Mrs. NwakegoOnyeukwu, was full of praise for the international health missionaries for the work they have done over the years at their various indigenous communities; even without an input from successive governments in the state.She pledged the full support of the administration of Governor Alex Otti to further ensure that NANNNA’s advocacy in primary health care in the state is not truncated by lack of government collaboration henceforth – especially in such areas as adequate mobilization of relevant residents for full participation, and capacity building of operators in the nation’s health sector.
The CMD of FMC Umuahia – Prof. AzubuikeOnyebuchi, in his keynote address to kick off the 2-day indoor session, reminded the visiting body of nurses how crucial their role is in the health care value chain; and urged them to never relent in their mandate of inculcating this all-important role in the local nurses – both students and certified. He reminded them that nurses form the baseline of any country’s health care system and should be encouraged by all means; especially given the growing dearth of nurses in Nigeria due to their mass migration to foreign climes now popularly referred to in local parlance as the Japa Syndrome.