PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: OFFERING FREE MEDICAL SERVICE TO OUR PEOPLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY PASSION: ISIOMA OKOBAH

Dr Mrs. Isioma Okobah whose name is a house hold one in Ika nation is the Chief Executive Officer, Delta Doctors in Diaspora and also of a sister body, Isioma Okobah Foundation, non-profit and non-government organizations through which she has been using to affect lives in many ways
For seven years now, Dr Mrs. Isioma Okobah has been offering free medical services with her team of doctors and nurses in different communities in Ika land and beyond, during which time she donated drugs and hospital equipments worth millions of naira to different hospitals in Ika land.

The Igbodo born renowned medical doctor is presently at home from the United States of America where she has been living for the official opening of the hospital she built for her community from where she spoke to Ika Weekly on her passion for free and quality healthcare, particularly for her people. Contrary to the views of many, Dr. Mrs. Okobah during the interview said that she is not into philanthropic work because she has interest in politics, but instead, it is borne out of the passion she has to give back to the people what God has blessed her with. According to her �God has blessed me and I have the passion to give back to the society. I will continue to do my best as long as God gives me the opportunity.

Excerpts:

May we meet you madam?

I am Dr Mrs. Isioma Okobah, Chief Executive Officer, Isioma Okobah Foundation and Delta Doctors in Diaspora. They are both non-profit and non-governmental organization. Basically what these two organizations do is to help provide funds for the execution and sustenance of whatever project that I am embarking on for my people.

When was Isioma Okobah Foundation established?

Isioma Okobah foundation was incorporated in 2012.

How do you intend using these two non-governmental organizations, ie. Isioma Okobah Foundation and Delta Doctors in Diaspora to source for funds?

They are fully owned by me and through them I have started reaching out to people whom I feel love what I am doing. For now, nobody has really contributed anything. I am the only one financing them.

You were the flag bearer of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, for the House of Representatives seat, Ika Federal Constituency, in the 2011 general elections, during which time you transversed all the kingdoms in Ika land with your medical team giving free medical treatment. But surprisingly many people misunderstood it to be a bait with which to get votes from Ika people. Now that the election has come and gone, you are still carrying on with your free medical programme. What exactly is propelling you to be doing all these?

This goes to tell you that everything I have done in the past and, everything I am doing now and those I will still be doing in the future have nothing to do with politics. It is completely borne out of the passion I have for my people. I started my free medical programme long before I even talked of contesting any election. It is a passion I have to give back to my community, and this dates back to seven years ago when I first came home and went to my community, Igbodo and became unsatisfied with what I saw. At that time, I organized a free health care at Igbodo from where we discovered that a lot of people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and other curable diseases which a lot of them did not know about. So, based on this, I started coming home every year to offer free medical services to my community and other communities under Ika Federal Constituency. In the process I told myself that medication can only last for a few weeks or months, hence, there is need for continuity of health care. At that point, I decided that I should provide my people with a community health centre where they will have daily access to health care. What I continue to preach is access to quality health care. And to your question that a lot of people in Ika federal constituency thought that the free health care I did in 2011 was because I was contesting, I will say that is not true. For the fact that I did not win the election did not deter me from doing what I am supposed to do for our people. Like I have said earlier, offering free medical care is the passion that I have to give back to my community.

The hospital you built was named after your late father, Stephen Uche Okoh, and was also situated at Igbodo. Is it opened for Igbodo people alone or for all Ika communities?

First, the hospital was named after my late father, Stephen Uche Okoh (Snr), because I believe past heroes should be honoured. My father was my hero, that is why I am honouring him and his name will continue to live on. Although the hospital was built at Igbodo, it is meant to serve all the communities in Ika land and beyond. There will be no discrimination to all those who will be coming to
the hospital for medical treatments and consultations. It is all free. For your information, we delivered our first baby at the hospital a couple of days ago.

How did you feel when you got the news that a woman was delivered of a baby in Stephen Okoh Hospital, first in the record of the hospital?

Honestly, I was overwhelmed with joy. I spoke with people, a lot of them asked me why are you doing what you are doing, and I said to them, I have joy and happiness whenever I give to people without even asking for anything in return. It is overwhelming, you cannot described it. The joy I am deriving by contributing to the well being of people is enough for me. When people called me in Atlanta that a baby was delivered in Stephen Okoh Hospital, I was just thankful to God that I was able to do a thing like that. We did everything for free, including the drugs that were given to the baby and the mother.

You said your father is your hero, can you tell us more about him.

My father actually passed on when I was at the medical school. He was a district officer in Sapele and also an Administrator. He went to the University of Ife where he studied Public administration. When he was alive, he instilled discipline in all his children. He made sure we achieved our dreams. He made sure I believed in myself. As far as he was concerned, I am the most beautiful girl on earth. He encouraged me a lot when I was in school. He will continue to be my hero. I am thankful to God for giving me the grace to build a private hospital which I have named after him.

Medical care as we all know is a very expensive project, are you bearing everything by yourself?

Before I started building the community hospital at Igbodo, I actually asked myself that question. But before I started I calculated how much it is going to cost me to build a hospital in Nigeria. To God be the glory I have my hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, which of course has been a blessing to me. It is the hospital in Atlanta that is sustaining the one at Igbodo.

Come Saturday 23rd February, 2013, the hospital you built for Igbodo and Ika communities in general will be commissioned. How do you feel?

I feel great, this is just a stepping stone to doing more for my community. It has always been a passion to give back to the community that brought me up, and I will continue to do that as much as I have the opportunity to do so. Presently I am part of the group set up by federal government to build the proposed medical Abuja City. With this you will know that my passion for quality health care is not only for Igbodo and Ika federal constituency, but also for the nation as a whole. The whole goal of the Abuja Medical City is to reduce medical tourism by building a state of the art medical hospital in Abuja. The plan is to invite Nigerian doctors in diaspora to work in the mega hospital. With that, we can reduce the rate Nigerians travel abroad all the time for medical reasons. Then we can keep the dollars in Nigeria and use it for other projects that will better our economy.

Does that mean your passion to give back to the society is beyond politics?

Yes

If tomorrow you have the opportunity to be in government will you still do what you are doing?

Certainly, much more will be done for our people if I am in government. The need to do more was why I actually contested the April 2011 general House of Representatives elections to see if I could contribute more to development in terms of policy making and getting contacts from people who will help to better our community. If I get any elective position or get any appointment from government tomorrow, I will be very happy and I will use the opportunity to do more, particularly for our people and the nation in general.

It seemed your activities are now going beyond quality healthcare because last two weeks you graded some roads at Igbodo.

Yes, I was told while in America that the roads in Igbodo are not accessible, so I decided to make arrangements for graders to grade some of the roads. I will like to use this opportunity to thank Ika people for their support during the April, 2011 general elections. Ika is my home and there is no better home for me than Ika land. I will always remember my home anywhere I am. I want to also use this opportunity to beg anybody whom God has blessed in any form to reciprocate by blessing the people around him or her. It does not have to be in the area of healthcare, everybody has to contribute in their own little way. Collectively we should try and give back to the society no matter how small. To me, healthcare is a
passion because I am a medical doctor. I am focused on that because it is what I know how to do best. That is my belief and I urge everyone who- cares to do the same thing because it will help all of us.

Your word for the people of Ika federal constituency?

I want to say that I am very happy to be back home. I love my community, Ika federal constituency and Nigeria my country. I want to use this medium to thank my brothers and sisters of Ika federal constituency for all the supports I got from them during the 2011 general elections. I never ran back to America, I just went there to continue my profession which is medicine. Now I am back home with my vision of giving out quality healthcare to the indigenes of Igbodo and our people under Ika federal constituency.

Our next week personality of the week is Mrs. Gloria Adagbon, founder, Igbanke National Progressive Association (INPA) but based in the United Kingdom. In this her interview with Ika Weekly, she speaks of plans by Igbanke people to go back to Ika nation. It is a must read

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