The Nigerian Red Cross Society in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund has offered free medical services to over 3,000 Southern Cameroon refugees in Boki, Etung, Ikom, Obanliku and Akamkpa local government areas in Cross River.
Speaking at the refugee’s camp on Sunday in Ikom local government, Dr Ernest Ochang, said that the UNFPA and other health partners did a need assessment of the health status of the refugees before embarking on the humanitarian service.
Ochang, who is the Project Focal Person and Health Advisor of Nigeria Red Cross Society in the state, said that the refugees’ health condition was very poor, hence the need to intervene.
According to him, the health need was seen as one of the most critical needs to be provided for the refugees.
He further added that they have also provided them with free `Treatment Cards’ that would enable them to access free healthcare services in any Primary Healthcare Centre they visit in the state.
“This exercise is going to last for 12 weeks. We have just rounded up the week two of the exercise and over 3,000 Southern Cameroonian refugees camping in Etung, Boki, Ikom, Obanliku Akamkpa have so far benefitted from the outreach.
“At the end of the exercise, we hope that the refugees will now have hospital registration that would enable them to access healthcare using the free treatment card we have provided for them.
“Also, we hope to meet their antenatal healthcare needs and assist those who have been molested in the course of the crisis and offer them psycho-social support and referral linkages.
“So far, in all the camps we have visited for the medical outreach, we discovered that 64 of the women are pregnant, 13 persons have tuberculosis and another 13 persons are infected with HIV/AIDS.
“Our challenges ranges from shortage of drugs, some hospitals are rejecting the affected victims, while our consumable stock have been overwhelmed’’, he said.
Dr Joachim Chijide, the UNFPA Project Focal Person, said the outreach have impacted significantly on the lives of the beneficiaries.
Chijide said that the host communities were also benefiting from the free medical outreach.
He said that although their primary target were the refugees, they could not ignore residents of the host communities who came out to benefit from the medical outreach.
“I will suggest that the condition of the refugees be scaled up by the government because a majority of the refugees are predominantly in the rural areas where most of their basic needs are scarce.
“UNFPA is a humanitarian organisation, we work in a lot of areas, but our primary mandate as an agency of the United Nations is to render services to those in need especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health and gender base violence’’, he said.
A pregnant woman, Ms. Grace Bassang, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview that access to healthcare, food and security were their major challenges at the camp.
Bassang thanked the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the UNFPA for providing them with medication, thereby appealing to the federal and state governments to provide them with more food and security.