NANNNA: When Quality Healthcare Goes Rural

NANNNA: When Quality Healthcare Goes Rural

By Ojiaku Kalu

 National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA], the professional body of all practicing nurses of Nigerian descent resident in the continent of North America founded in 2008, held its annual medical mission in various states of the country from 2nd – 8th of January, 2024.

The 2024 NANNNA team for Abia State led by Dr. Mrs. Ngozi F. Mbibi – DNP, RNC-OB, MA, FWACN, FAAN [Minnesota] tagged Abia Health Mission 2024 in collaboration with the Abia State Government and the Federal Medical Centre [FMC] Umuahia under the focal theme: Taking Health Care To Grassroots. The other members of the 2024 NANNNA team include: Dr. Mrs. Charity Enwere – DNP, RNC [New York]; Mrs. Ifeyinwa Alozie – MSN, BSN, RN [New York]; Dr. Gabriel Prince Maduabuchi – MBA, MHA, BSN, RN, PHD [ABD] – Pennsylvania; Dr.  Ada Nkoronye – [Orlando, Florida]; Dr. Nkiru Archiniru – [Florida].

           Dr. Mrs. Ngozi F. Mbibi – DNP, RNC-OB, MA, FWACN, FAAN [Minnesota]

The body’s programme of events began in Umuahia, the capital city of the state, on Tuesday January 2 with a courtesy call on the Chief Medical Director [CMD] of Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, Prof.Azubuike Onyebuchi.

Prof. AzubuikeOnyebuchi – MBBS, FWACS, FICS [OBS]

The CMD in his welcome remarks extolled NANNNA as a body of great ambassadors of their country of origin – Nigeria, and urged it to keep up the momentum – giventhat their annual medical mission has over the past 16years saved countless lives of the local populace – especially those living in remote rural communities consisting of the poorest of the poor whoneither can access quality medical care; nor canafford the cost whenever available.

Prof. Onyebuchi, therefore pledged his hospital’s support to the local programmes of the international body – especially in Abia State, because according to him, NANNNA’s success in the state is by extension that of the FMC Umuahia in achieving the much needed universal health suffrage. He enumerated NNANNNA’s contributions to the FMC Umuahia to include: skill upgrade and positive attitudinal change of the nurses; which has over time translated to quality nursing care and patient satisfaction.  

The leader of the NANNNA 2024 team, Dr. Ngozi Mbibi, thanked the federal hospital for its great support over the years– especially in never failing to avail its facility as venue for the indoor presentations and lectures; plus its continuous support in logistics to each of the locations that NANNNA schedules its medical outreach each year for the primary purpose of creating health awareness among the nation’s masses – especially since the Administration of Prof. Azubuike Onyebuchi of the  FMC Umuahia.

The indoor programme of the first two days of the 2024 medical mission had in attendance more than 200 participants comprising student-nurses and certified nurses from the FMC Umuahia as well as government officials and medical personnel from across the state.

Highlight of the first day – January 2, were series of teachings and practical demonstrations on how to use the cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] technique to sustain victims of unresponsiveness like heart attack, smoke inhalation, stroke, et cetera, until they can get the right medical attention in a hospital. The main teaching on CPR for the day was handled by Dr. Ada Nkoronye.


Dr. Ada Nkoronye

Dr. Maduabuchi Prince Gabriel – a certified CPR consultant, in his contribution on Dr. Ada Nkoronye’s presentation, informed the audience that the technique was discovered by cardiologists in 1960 to ensure a heart that is without functional error.

These highly practical trainings were done using several adult and child mannequins for demonstration among the attendees divided into six groups with each of the six NANNNA members conducting each group.

The indoor training sessions ended on Wednesday January 3 with other series of lectures by members of the visiting team. The first presentation of the second day was taken by the 2024 Team Lead – Dr. Mrs. NgoziMbibi, titled ‘’Taking Health Care To The Grassroots.’’

Under this topic, she explained that the essence of NANNNA as an interventionist body is steeped in creating health awareness among rural dwellers by adopting, renovating, and equipping their community health centres and providing them with medicines and allied necessities – in collaboration with leaders of such communities and at no cost whatsoever to the recipient community members.

After this initial intervention according to Dr. Mbibi, NANNNA still follows up periodically on the state of the adopted primary health care centres with periodic supply of medications; especially during their annual health missions.

According to her, NANNNA is the organization that unites Nigeria nurses in all the states of USA and Canada – towards improving the health and quality of lives of Nigerians at home and abroad. Other core objectives of the body include: to collaborate with the Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council and related organizations to improve the standard of Nursing Education and practice in Nigeria; to collaborate with other Nursing and civil society organizations to improve nursing care and health in general; to advocate for policies that impacts the health and wellbeing of Nigerians and in North America; to disseminate research findings and policies that relate to the Nigerian individual health care needs to local, state, and federal agencies in order to improve the quality of health care in Nigerian communities.  

The 2024 team lead informed her audience that there are currently more than 6,000 nurses in the USA alone; and urged memebers of the audience to enjoin any of their relatives practicing as a nurse within the territory to join NANNNA as a body for the benefit of their direct local communities in Nigeria as according to her, each member nurse under NANNNA can access as much as #6000USD in grant from the organization toward the upgrade of their local PHC facility in Nigeria.

She however hinted that while this sum from NANNNA may not complete the entire project, it would often be of great assistance toward achieving the set aim – with the concerned NANNNA member providing the shortfall where necessary.

Already, 12 PHC centres have been adopted, upgraded and equipped with the needed incidentals across the federation since 2019 under the activities of the body.

NANNNA’s medical mission began in 2008 with the ‘’Take Us To Your Village’’ initiative – which was limited to (only) medical outreaches; and finally progressed to the present ‘’Adopt A PHC’’ initiative – where community is gifted a physical structure for a clinic – equipped, and used as a referral health centre by community members.

Among its many achievements since inception, NANNNA was highly instrumental to the writing of the current operational guideline for conducting medical missions in Nigeria – in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other professional health bodies in the country.

The body also uses these renovated and equipped PHC centres as referral clinics for respective community members by encouraging them to go there for routine checkup instead of patronizing quacks and unhygienic places for their health needs.

Other presentations at the indoor exchange came in such titles as: Hypertension – Causes & Management [by Dr. Madubuchi Prince Gabriel]; Managing Type 2 Diabetes With Diet & Exercise [by Ms. Chiagbenwe Enwere – MPH]; while Mrs. Ifeyinwa Alozie taught on the topic: Strategies For Improved Mental Health & Substance Use.

On his impression of the works of NANNNA so far, the Abia State Commissioner for Health — Dr.  Ngozi Okoronkwo, represented by the State Director of Nursing Services, Mrs. Nwakego Onyeukwu, was full of praise for the international health missionaries for the work they have done over the years at their various indigenous communities; even without an input from successive governments in the state. She pledged the full support of the administration of Governor Alex Otti to further ensure that NANNNA’s advocacy in primary health care in the state is not truncated by lack of government collaboration henceforth – especially in such areas as adequate mobilization of relevant residents for full participation, and capacity building of operators in the nation’s health sector.

The CMD of FMC Umuahia – Prof. Azubuike Onyebuchi, in his keynote address to kick off the 2-day indoor session, reminded the visiting body of nurses how crucial their role is in the health care value chain; and urged them to never relent in their mandate of inculcating this all-important role in the local nurses – both students and certified. He reminded them that nurses form the baseline of any country’s health care system and should be encouraged by all means; especially given the growing dearth of nurses in Nigeria due to their mass migration to foreign climes now popularly referred to in local parlance as the Japa Syndrome.

This plea of the CMD’s was made even more palpable by the comment of the event compere, Mrs. Aisha Onyemaobi [a deputy director of nursing services at the FMC Umuahia], who described the nursing profession as a calling by God and service to humanity, and encouraged her colleagues to remain steadfast in the vocation. She revealed that the hospital had lost over 32 nurses and still counting within the past six months to the sweeping exodus to foreign lands.

 This correspondent sought out some of the participants for comments on the 2024 NANNNA activities in Abia State:

Ms. Oluchi Ibe from the Kingdom College Health Centre Ozu-Abam [Arochukwu Local Government Area] said it was her first time to hear of NANNNA as a body of Nurses with the vision of promoting rural health and empowering local personnel in the health sector with latest knowledge thereon. She thanked the visiting team for their sacrifices in travelling all the way from the continent of North America to Nigeria for the free medical mission.

A male nurse who pleaded anonymity said NANNNA’s medical mission was highly commendable, and urged government to ensure it is sustained the body’s gains of the past years by maintaining the community health facilities already adopted and renovated – especially those in the hinterlands. He expressed fear that the good efforts of voluntary organizations like this may come to naught unless stakeholders come together to embrace them in total support and protection.

With the conclusion of the 2 day indoor capacity building via teachings and demonstrations, the team proceeded on a tour of four rural communities in the state to sensitize locales on primary health and how to use the CPR as a first aid even in their private homes. In addition to these, community members were given free medication to treat ailments identified by medical doctors in the NANNNA team.

The concerned communities visited are those that NANNNA had already adopted their community clinics the previous years.

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