By Chijioke Okoronkwo
No fewer than 472 cataract patients have received free surgery in the Sokoto State phase of Friends of Osinbajo Medical Outreach.
Dr Abubakar Dange, Coordinator of the Medical Outreach in the state, said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Sokoto.
The exercise, organised by friends of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo under the auspices of the “March 8 Initiative,” is an offshoot of the nationwide Free Eye Care/ Surgery inaugurated recently in Ikenne, Ogun.
Dange said it was the first of the three-day exercise at the Specialist Hospital, Sokoto.
“The Sokoto phase of the medical outreach witnessed a large turnout and already 472 cataract patients got free eye surgeries with many others receiving free consultations, screening, and other corrective eye care interventions.
“The initiative, which has impacted many Nigerians across different sectors over the years is one way the vice president has asked his friends and associates to mark his birthday instead of spending scarce resources on gifts and others.
“The exercise kicked off at the Specialist Hospital, Sokoto, as early as 8 a.m. on May 25 with many patients from within and outside the state capital presenting themselves for screening and treatment before a team led by the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Nuhu Maishanu.
“Although 1,500 patients are targeted for treatment during the period of the exercise, the medical team has so far conducted successful surgeries on 472 patients and thousands more received other corrective eye care interventions between May 27 and May 30,” he said.
Some beneficiaries barred their minds on the impact of the exercise, thanking the vice president and his friends for making the medical outreach possible.
Aliyu Murtala, a farmer, said he came there because he could not see very well with both eyes but after the treatment, he could see clearly.
” But the interesting thing about what has happened here today is that I did not pay a dime to get this quality of treatment.
“Although I have not met the man responsible for all the good things that we are experiencing here today, I am told that the person is the vice president of our country.
” I just want to thank him and all the other people supporting this gesture. I pray that Allah continues to bless and increase him in every aspect of life,” he said.
On his part, Alhaji Damboa from Wammako, Sokoto, thanked God and the sponsors of the outreach.
He prayed God to grant good health to the vice president, take him to greater heights, and also prayed for peace and unity in the country.
A female beneficiary of the free eye care, Hajia Indo Ibrahim, said she came to the hospital because of her eyes and was treated.
“I have received treatment and I feel okay today; When I came here yesterday, I couldn’t see your interviewer’s face, but now I can see your face clearly.
“I am very happy because I did not pay for the service and medication given to me, for that, I thank those responsible for this.
“I pray that Allah rewards them and grants all their heart desires, also preserving them to continue to support the needy just as they have supported us.
” And, we will continue to vote for them whenever they come seeking our support,” she said.
The Vice-Chairman of Gudu LGA of Sokoto, Abdulahi Jimajimi, said that it was pleasing to note that the vice president and his friends instead of spending so much money to make merry in celebration of his birthday chose to support the less privileged in the society.
“Just behind me, you can see the crowd, over 500 people have so far been treated within three days that the programme started. We are grateful to the Vice President for the gesture especially in choosing to address a common problem among people in our communities.
“We remain grateful to the vice president and his friends especially for remembering the masses instead of lavishing a lot of money on birthday parties and other luxuries,” he said.
Other locations for the medical outreach across the state include General Hospital Illela and General Hospital Dogon Daji.
The exercise is expected to end on June 20. (NAN)