16 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — As a step towards the implementation of one of the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP for the clean up of Ogoniland, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, has again flagged off a free medical outreach for the people of Ogoni.
Recall that HYPREP had in December 2017 carried out a free medical intervention in the four LGAs of Ogoniland, to identify the disease trend prevalent in the area, in order to provide the basis for a health impact study, which is one of the recommendations of UNEP.
During the flag off of the health exercise in Taabaa community, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, the Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, assured the people of Ogoni that the Federal Government was committed to the implementation of every recommendation in the UNEP report.
Dekil explained that the medical team will be in each local government of Ogoniland for four days, to carry out general consultations, dental and eye care, surgical operations, among other medical services, even as over 1000 persons with different ailments were diagnosed and treated at the weekend.
He announced that in the first phase of the medical outreach, over 6000 patients with different ailments were treated and 60 surgeries carried out, free of charge for the people of Ogoni.
“This is a continuation of what we started last year to provide medical services to the communities as well as also gather more data for our health impact study.
“The success of the outreach programme got to President Muhammadu Buhari, who was touched by the poor condition of the Ogoni people due to the degradation of their environment by oil exploration.
“The Federal Government is absolutely committed to the project. We are here because the President gave further approval for more outreach to be conducted for more Ogoni people to get medical attention and for us to focus closely on the remediation which is going to happen in the next couple of months.”
The HYPREP boss also explained that while the medical outreach is going on, plans are underway for the provision of potable water to oil-impacted communities, as well as to launch the HYPREP Livelihoods Intervention Programme to give new sets of skills to Ogoni women and youths to enable them to create wealth for themselves.
“Our water supply system and services that will be provided is the one that will meet international standard. We will ensure it meets the WHO standard.
Also speaking, President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Mr. Lergborsi Pyagbara, who himself benefitted in the free medical services, urged the people of Ogoni to exercise patience for the cleanup project to commenced, as he charged HYPREP to expedite action to get the cleanup project running.
Pyagbara who described the medical outreach as timely said the restoration of livelihoods and remediation of oil-impacted sites in Ogoni cannot be successful without the health challenges of the people being addressed.
“The mandate of HYPREP is to clean Ogoniland and also restore livelihoods. Of course, you cannot have livelihood restoration without people having their health challenges addressed.
“For us, it is a welcome development and it is something that, perhaps, we feel should continue across the length of this project.”