‘Abia’s free home medicare for the elderly is first of its kind’


February 11, 2018 | 12:54 am
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Emenike Osondu is the administrator of the free medical care for the Elderly persons in Abia State which was recently launched by Abia State government. In this interview with UDOKA AGWU in Umuahia, Osondu said that available facts show that the initiative is first of its kind in Nigeria. He also threw some light on the operation of the scheme. Excerpts:

Why did you decide to come back from the United States?

I came back home because I have to give back to those that gave me life. I am a sub-contractor to US Government on health, Geriatric health. So after practising for 37 years, I decided to give back to my community. That is why I am here.

Now that you are in Abia State, what are you doing?

We manage old people. We call then geriatrics-people who are 70 years and above. They are home bound, which means they can’t get out of their homes. They are sick in their home and so we visit them in their homes. Their homes become a hospital or a clinic where we manage their care. They have to have what we call medical necessity, which means they have to be sick, because you can’t come to see a patient that went to tap palm wine or something. So that is what I do.

What are the operational details of the programme?

The free home health care service for the elderly is designed as an empowerment programme for the senior citizens of Abia State.

What are the vision and mission of the programme?


Our Governor, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, loves an integrated home care network providing quality services designed to meet diverse health care needs of those in the grassroots who cannot get to the hospitals. He is positioned to improve the health status of families, individuals and especially citizens in the seventeen (17) local government areas of Abia State. He believes that our elderly citizens should come first.

Governor Ikpeazu has launched this free home health care for the elderly because he wants to reduce the number of elders that go to the hospital which is not their natural home. Some of our elders think that when you take them to the hospital, they will die. So the governor wants to bring healthcare to them at home. After hospitalisation, most of them go home to die because there is no home care to follow through and make sure they are complying with medication.

What are the benefits of the Programme?


It reduces the amount spent by family members on burial but apply it to health. It gives our elderly ones some dignity, respect and love that they so much need for it is not a crime to be old. It has also saved a lot of marriages and family disputes on whose responsibility it is to take care of grandparents.

What other services does the scheme offer?

We offer our senior citizens skilled nursing care such as blood pressure, pulse and respiratory status assessment; monitoring of nutrition and hydration status; monitoring response and teaching of medication; administering insulin, wound and stormy care, catheter care, obtaining specimens such as blood for lab testing; medical social workers are available for various referrals throughout the community. The elderly with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer, hypertension, arthritis, fracture and stroke are also not left out.

How does the scheme operate?

The registered nurses will come to the comfort of your home and evaluate for free. For you to qualify for this special service, you must have a medical necessity, be homebound, require intermittent skilled care and have physician approval.

With tender loving care, our care givers are dedicated, trustworthy, reliable healthcare professionals. They have been carefully selected to ensure that the quality of services delivered meet the highest standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO). We unite the physician, patient, caregivers and Okezie Victor Ikpeazu to provide the maximum benefit to the elderly with a loving touch. The great news is that the service is FREE, courtesy of our health-conscious governor.

The free home healthcare services include home health aid care such as bathing, dressing and personal hygiene, assistance ambulation, turning and positioning as needed; light housekeeping assistance; so, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy; medical social workers are available for various referrals throughout the community.

Since the commencement of the programme what level of success have you recorded?

Since the governor launched the programme; that is at the end of November 2017, we have established grounds in Ukwa East, Obingwa, Isiala Ngwa South and Ikwuano. We have attended to 160 patients; that is 40 patients in each of the L.G.A visited so far. Presently, we are heading to Umunneochi. You know for now, it is a pilot programme.

How is the programme funded?

So far, so good; the governor has been doing very well in funding it. Just like I said, he has spent so much money into the project. He is giving us ambulances, Sienna vehicles to transport ourselves and the patients, Keke (tricycles) that take us into the hinterland to go see these patients, where the vehicles cannot reach. But the big picture is that we are trying to get enough records so that we can get the World Health Organisation (WHO) to come and help us sustain what we are doing and that will be done very soon.

What is the level of Governor Ikpeazu’s commitment in the healthcare system of the state?

I have to tell you something, I don’t know the governor very well, but for the few months that I have known him, he is committed to health. Let me tell you his commitment. His commitment is coming from his background. His mum used to be a visiting nurse; his mother in-law used to be a visiting nurse. He has people in the health industry around him. So when you talk to him about health, he gets it real fast. It didn’t take me 15 minutes to explain this programme to him and he understood it and said ‘Let’s do it’. So I will give him a very round ‘A’ on health.

What are your challenges?

The major challenge we have is going into the hinterlands. We have road issues, where we have to pilot ourselves deep into the hinterland to see most of these patients and most of them don’t have any helper. So we have to provide help, medication, comfort and grooming. We have to really establish the infrastructure to make it successful in their homes. So those are the challenges.


February 11, 2018 | 12:54 am
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