By Emmanuel Ajibulu
Arguably the key statutory function of every legislator is to make laws, whilst infrastructure development, human capital development, and other factors which can make life more abundant both socially and economically should be left in the hands of the executive. But for Honourable Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, who is representing Ondo East/West Federal Constituency in Ondo State; the drive for development should be seen as collective responsibility, from individuals, corporate bodies, religious bodies, government etc. To him we all have roles to play for development to thrive effectively in our body politic.
In less than one year (June 6, 2011) after his assumption into office as a federal lawmaker, various empowerment programmes had been marked to his credit by people from his constituency. Some of these laudable initiatives are donation of ICT gadgets to Yaba Police station, provision of hand pump boreholes for mostly villages that lack access to clean and portable water. The communities which benefitted in the first phase of the hand pump boreholes project cut across Ondo West/East local governments. For Ondo East they; are Ateru Ward 1, Asantan Oja Ward 2, Atamo Oja- Ward 4, Oluwaranmilowo Ward 7, Lipepeye Ward 9. Whilst communities in Ondo West are; Aiyetoro/Ago-Igbo-Ward 2, Adebanjo Ward 2, Adaja/Ajegunle Ward 4, Sabo Ward 11, Abusoro Ward 12 respectively.
Recently, Hon. Akinlaja equally extended his hands of philanthropy yet to another member of his constituency who was under severe/agonising life threatening health condition. The beneficiary of this largesse (from Ward 2 of Ondo West) was a victim of Scrotal Lymphedema (ipa in the local parlance). Almost half a million naira was incurred as hospital bills, but thankfully he has fully recovered from this health challenge. The gentleman (who would not want his name mentioned) is currently contributing his own quota positively to the development of Ondo State, and more importantly living in happiness and sound health with his family members. Scrotal Lymphedema is a swelling and enlargement caused by a variety of disorders. One of the more common causes of an enlarged scrotum is a hernia. Another common cause is fluid accumulation between the testicle and the skin. This is called a hydrocele.
Similarly over fourty Nigerians have benefited from the first phase of Hon Akinlaja’s free cataract treatment in Ondo East/West local governments. Painfully, cataract is the world’s leading cause of blindness, with around 18 million people blind as a result. Many people are needlessly blind from cataract because they don’t know that it can be cured. Hon Akinlaja truly understands the importance of human eyes and has invested so much to fighting ailments which can lead to blindness. The eyes play pivotal function in the human body for it to carry out its tasks with coordination. The lawmaker has however reiterated his vows to do more to his constituencies in fulfilment of his electoral promises.
However, one cannot down play the efforts of Governor Olusegun Mimiko who is consistently poised with the zeal to redeeming his campaign promises in the best interest of Ondo State people. It is no longer news that His Excellency has decided to concentrate optimally on maternal and child health as the major pivot of the reform of the health system in the state. Without mincing words no nation is taken seriously if it ignores maternal and child health. So much so that the United Nations came up with the Millennium Development Goals that identify improving child and maternal health as one of the goals to be achieved by the signatories – that is the MDGs 4 and 5.
Interestingly Governor Mimiko’s initiative further came up with the Abiye Safe Motherhood concept, which was the name given to the Mother and Child care policy of the Mimiko administration. The Abiye was piloted in the Ifedore Local Government Area of the state in October 2009, in partnership with the World Bank. It was during the field surveys, baseline studies that it became clear that there was a need for a dedicated facility to cater for mothers and children. Consequently, the Governor came to change the system by setting up a facility dedicated to the child and mother, this is amazing. In fact, Ondo State may well be the first purpose-built, 100-bed health facility dedicated to the care of pregnant women and children at the most affordable rate.
Specifically Mimiko’s mission statement is to run an integrated maternal and child care facility fully eager to offer qualitative and critical interventions when required. This buttressed the mission statement, which was to develop an equity-based healthcare service that will provide universal access to the population. The Mother and Child initiative came to serve as an apex referral facility for all complicated cases of pregnancies and medical illnesses of children under the age of five. The idea of the Abiye was to cause a paradigm shift by moving healthcare to the communities rather than expect patients to make their way to the cities.
But in so doing, the state realized that some patients would need to be cared for at the tertiary level when complications arise, which informed the idea of the Mother and Child. It’s all about the following issue: How much money is needed to counter the problems that threaten health, and how much money is the government willing and able to contribute? A government needs to choose a method when it comes to the financing of the health care institutions. Possible approaches are through raising taxes, establishing a health insurance system (social, local or private), and/or by introducing user fees. The balance between money spent on prevention and money spent on treatment should be made carefully, as some preventive services should be free, because they can benefit the whole population. Vaccination against chicken pox, for example, can make this disease disappear. God bless Ondo State.