By Canice Opara
The Rays of Hope Support Initiative (ROHSI) has been creating awareness on salient sicknesses in the country, such as hypertension and diabetes through education on their health implications.
According to Mr. Benjamin Olorunfemi, founder of the organization, these ailments have been causing a lot of problems in the country, and unfortunately people are not always taking them seriously, hence his organization has embarked on an awareness campaign to education citizens.
Olorunfemi, who narrated how he almost died through these sickness, said he later researched on them only to discover that high blood pressure and diabetes are among other non-communicable diseases millions of Nigerians are battling with without knowing what they are, that this has led to his desire to raise awareness, provide health education, get people screened for hypertension and diabetes with the vision to reducing the untimely death resulting from complications caused by these ailments. Hence, Rays of Hope Support Initiative (ROHSI) was born in March 2017.
“We found out that if people had access to information and medical services early, deaths and other health complications arising from these ailments could be prevented. Then we decided to fight against these diseases with one-on-one talk Initiative, which was later extended to our communities because of the increasing number of people who need information and treatment”, he said.
Olorunfemi, quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO), said hypertension and diabetes are responsible for an estimated 45 percent of adults’ death due to heart diseases, and 51 percent of deaths due to stroke globally, with studies blaming the increasing prevalence of the condition on lifestyle and dietary factors such as physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco use, and a diet high in sodium usually from processed and fatty foods. That unfortunately, the control of hypertension and diabetes has become a priority in many countries of the world, but remains a crisis in Nigeria in terms of awareness and management as the condition continues unabated.
He stated that studies continue to show from experts that more Nigerians are daily battling with these ailments without laid down measures, and asked why?
The ROHSI founder believes that economic downturn and the astronomical increase in managing these ailments are forcing many people to go on compulsory “drug holiday’’, as they found it hard to get funds in getting medical screening and medication on real-time. And that it could be why today people are seeking an alternative to orthodox drugs and treatment, as the economic situation has not allowed the majority of them to be able to cope with continuing medication.
He wondered why government, whose responsibility it is to create awareness and help pharmaceutical companies in curbing these sicknesses, is not doing much in that regard.
“Our government that was supposed to help in terms of awareness, providing relief and subsidies to pharmaceutical companies and the people with hypertension and diabetes to ameliorates their health conditions are not doing much even; our primary healthcare centres that supposed to be the first point of call for screening, detecting and helping in alleviating these ailments are not functioning to their name. Today, many of these patients are going back to alternative medicine or ‘’drug holiday’’ as I have said earlier, which often worsens the condition resulting in more health complications”, Olorunfemi lamented.
He said based on this, they are coming in to bridge that gap by coming in today as an organization to provide means by which more of people with these ailments could be reached through programmes like community outreaches, where they have provided free screening and medication to over 3,000 Nigerians.
“We all know there are significant health and economic gains attached to early detection, adequate treatment and good control of hypertension and diabetes than treating the complications of these ailments”, he reminded.
While saying that his organisation has the vision of supporting the health and well-being of people through health education and enlightenment, Olorunfemi said “but it’s not what we can do alone as an organisation; we need like minded people like you to help us with your time, network, resources among others in achieving the following:
“To create awareness on the effects and management of hypertension and diabetes among our people with special interest among the low income and the less privileged members of our society.
“To help increase the understanding among the communities, especially the less privileged members of the communities battling with these ailments about its impact on their health.
“To reduce the percentage of people with these diseases significantly through our awareness, health education and community outreaches respectively with follow-up on a great percentage of the people.
“To provide people living with hypertension or diabetes with comprehensive information on the causes and management.
“To provide our targeted audience with ongoing follow-up information on hypertension and diabetes.
“To reach a larger number of the communities with pamphlets, handbill, lecture in local dialects for clear and better understanding of what hypertension and diabetes are all about, and how deadly they could become if not discovered and managed on time”.
Olorunfemi advised that Nigerians should discourage people from resorting to self – medication, but instead seek for proper medical attention.
He added that all of the above cannot be achieved without Nigerians’ efforts and contributions, and that is why his organisation is asking people to join them with all that they have in achieving these.