Nigerian prison visit makes lasting impact

News Hour:

A visit to the Maximum Security prison in Ikoyi, near Lagos, wasn’t originally part of the plan. But when WDF partner Structured Healthcare Initiatives had some funds left after opening 20 diabetes foot care clinics across Lagos, the WDF project partner decided to add one more site to the list.

Maximum’, as it is known, has approximately 1,200 inmates, 83 of them serving life sentences. It also has a small health clinic treating everything from malaria, skin infections, asthma and TB to HIV/AIDS.
Non-communicable diseases, however, have never been a priority. While the clinic’s doctor, Dr A Hemeson, told the Structured Healthcare Initiatives (STRUHI) team that an estimated 30-40 inmates had diabetes, he lacked glucometers, strips, and other tools for diagnosing or caring for them.
“These inmates represent a very under-served community, with regard to health services in particular. The project was a great opportunity to reach out to them and the dedicated staff of the prison clinic,” says Kirza Buch Kristensen, WDF Programme Manager.
Increased awareness, improved care
The outreach began with a screening: on 7 April, World Health Day, more than 400 inmates gathered in a central hall to hear a ‘health talk’ and watch educational videos in English and Yoruba. Then staff members and inmates were screened through random blood sugar testing and blood pressure measurement. Inmates with diabetes were also screened for foot ulcer risk factors, and some were found to have nerve damage or neuropathy.
“The prison inspector said proudly that he was the first in line,” says Mads Loftager Mundt, who attended the screening together with Ms. Kristensen and WDF Managing Director Anders Dejgaard. “It was a big event that day, and by all accounts a good experience for us, STRUHI and the prison staff and inmates.”
After the screening, STRUHI donated basic diabetes equipment and medication to the prison clinic. They will follow up with onsite training in how to use the equipment and an offsite course in diabetes and diabetic foot care training for the clinic’s small staff, says Dr Anthonia Okeoghene Ogbera, Managing Director of STRUHI.
That’s good news for the 11 Maximum inmates who were found to have excessively high blood glucose levels on April 7.
“This has offered a lift to diabetes care here, with new knowledge, new contacts between healthcare providers, and equipment that they didn’t have before,” Mr. Loftager Mundt says. “We’re hoping that the awareness created by the screening will have a lasting impact, and that the equipment provided will enable the clinic to at least perform the most basic diabetes care.”
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Md. Rafiuzzaman Sifat, a CSE graduate turned into journalist, works at News Hour as a staff reporter. He has many years of experience in featured writing in different Bangladeshi newspapers. He is an active blogger, story writer and social network activist. He published a book named 'Se Amar Gopon' inEkushe boi mela Dhaka 2016. Sifat got a BSc. from Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology, Bangladesh. He also works as an Engineer at Bangla Trac Communications Ltd. As an avid traveler and a gourmet food aficionado, he is active in publishing restaurant reviews and cutting-edge articles about culinary culture.
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