HEALTH: TEARS AS RESIDENTS BICKER OVER ABANDONED OKERENKOKO COTTAGE HOSPITAL.
•Calls on State Government for its revival
•Says Tompolo was a God sent to them
RESIDENTS of Okerenkoko Community in Gbaramatu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State have expressed dismay over the abysmal abandonment of the Okerenkoko Cottage Hospital.
The residents who disclosed this to Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper during a visit to the Community lamented gravely on the grossly deteriorating health challenges facing the Community and the entire Kingdom owing to the sudden closure of the hitherto essential hospital being operated by the Tompolo foundation.
Some of the residents who do not wish their names to be mentioned in print divulge that the pathetic closure of the hospital was due to the chastising of ex- militant leader Tompolo by the Federal Government. ” Our dark days with respect to deteriorating health issues started when the Federal Government began to have issues with High Chief Oweizide Ekpemupolo as he could no longer be free to fund the hospital and keep it running as it use to be before now, we are truly in a precarious situation ” he alleged.
A visit to the community by our reporters reveals that over grown weeds, stagnant water, Spirogyra, reptiles and all sorts of dangerous creatures have successfully become the active inhabitants of this once booming hospital.
Reactions have continued to trail the closure as residents voiced out their concern for the gloomy situation of the health facility.
“Since this clinic came into existence, it has been beneficial to us. The sick were given adequate and effective treatment for their quick recovery. For instance, one of my neighbour who had an accident was treated here. But for some time now it has stopped functioning; we don’t have a place to go for treatment. A clinic where our children go to for treatment is no longer operating. We don’t know what is happening. So we are praying to God for the clinic to be brought back to us. Even non-indigenes also come here for treatment. At present, in this situation, the whole community is begging that the clinic should start functioning again, so that our children can receive treatment when they are sick, everything there as regards treatment was free, Tomopolo was the paying for it “We don’t know. It’s only God we are praying to, for an end to all these problems facing the clinic so that it can start functioning over again.” Mrs. Samuel Beauty.
A security staff working in the hospital Mr.Ginuwa Deregbegha, gives a brief history on the birth of the hospital and expresses his opinion on its present level, he said it was the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that started it but it was latter taken over by the Delta State Government through the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) during the leadership of Chief Wellington Okrika and after the his exit from office, some years latter, the Tompolo foundation took over it in 2013 after the 2009 invasion due to the neglect of the facility by the Government, since then it was alleged to have been serving residents of the Community, the entire Kingdom and anyone who comes with one form of health issue or the other, all these services was done on a free basis, he alleged.
“NDDC started it and was latter taken over by DESOPADEC that gives it a finishing touch and put it into a more functional use, I worked 4years and some months. After they left, Tompolo Foundation took over and I have worked with them since early 2012. It has been free treatment, free feeding and better pay, before it stopped functioning all of a sudden, It is because of the current problems by the government and security agents chasing people in the community, there is the report that the government is after him, and so he withdrew himself. And because he is not around, nobody can do any work, thus leading to the forest it has become, presently, we are suffering. If someone is sick, before anyone is aware of the illness, death will struck. Many are dying. Even now my child is sick and I had to struggle by spending money on him. Because the clinic is not working, many people have died. So we need the government to bring it back to operation”. Ginuwa.
Troubled over the abandonment, aged Alfred Sokoto, the oldest man of Okerenkoko community expressed that all has not really been well for the citizens of Gbaramatu Kingdom with particular reference to their health status.
“The clinic was brought back to life by Tompolo, and it is free for everybody. But all of a sudden it stopped operating. Tompolo didn’t do any wrong with this clinic. As we are here, we are experiencing hunger. As I am here, I can’t urinate. When this clinic was functioning we were all very happy. But right now, nothing is working. My message to government is that we are all begging, they should bring back the clinic for us. Many people are suffering and dying. Tompolo was the one standing for our wellbeing in the whole of this Kingdom, therefore, they should allow him to operate the clinic for us” Sokoto stated.
The Oldest man also begs youths not to indulge in pipeline vandalism so that the community and the entire Kingdom will once again experience peace while urging them to be God fearing. “Before, when the government was not here, everywhere was peaceful; but now it has been one problem or the other.” He alleged.
Daniel Irowho, a youth of the community also beckoned on the State Government to revive the hospital with a view of tackling the always penchant health situations in the town.
“We are not happy with the way the Government is going about the hospital. Sometimes we are having emergency situation in the community, and because the cottage hospital is not working, before we rush someone to the city, maybe we will lose the person. So we want the government to do something urgent about the hospital, we are pleading to the government to let the hospital come back so that if we have any emergency situation we will not go to the city but will manage ourselves in the community.” Daniel pleads.
It was however, gathered that the Tompolo Foundation, a non profit and non-governmental organisation has said that they have handled over 500 surgeries including Caesarian Session in the past two years after taking over the Okerenkoko Cottage Hospital in April 2013.
That the foundation has spent over N300 million in running the hospital.
Dr. Clarkson Agagha, director of health, Tompolo foundation disclose this during a phone conversation with Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper
According to him, “Our President formed the foundation on two thematic basis to handle education and health need of our people.
“We have handled over 400 surgeries free of charge. We don’t charge a dime for any treatment, drugs and cards.
“Over 10,000 persons from Warri has benefited from our free treatment also. The hospital has handled several deliveries aside cases of Malaria and Cholera.”
Dr. Clarkson added that the foundation has trained 50 science teachers after giving free books, sandals, bags, and uniforms to over 15 primary schools in Gbaramatu kingdom and other Ijaw communities.
“We have donated hospital equipment, drugs to hospitals within the Niger Delta enclave since the kick starting of the foundation”.
It will be recalled that due to the lack of health care facilities in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State and the abandonment of the cottage hospital at Okerenkoko, the foundation took it over to provide the much needed health services with highly qualified health workers.
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