The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency charged with the implementation of the UNEP report on the clean-up of Ogoni and other Niger Delta areas has commenced the implementation of the report in Ogoni land.
To this end, the agency has embarked on health outreach programme in conjunction with the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) and Ogoni Doctors Forum (ODF), which will enable the agency undertake a comprehensive health impact assessment study and also to relate such study to hydrocarbon pollution.
Speaking while flagging off the health outreach programme at the General hospital, Terabor in Gokana Local government area, on Saturday, the Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, said the health outreach where the health challenges of the indigent Ogoni people would become part of the HYPREP project.
“We are here to commence the initial stages of the health impact assessment study, which is part of the emergency measures recommended in the UNEP report. We are going to look at all the diseases in this area by interacting with the patients and also to demonstrate if there is a link between those diseases and oil impact. The essence is to capture the health history of all the patients that we interact with. That health history is one of the things that will build the data base for the large scale health impact assessment study, which will be starting soon. The programme kicked off on 26 December in Khana local government area, where the team of doctors attended to a large crowd. We proceeded to Tai local government area on 28 December and we experienced even more and more turnout. Today, in Gokana local government area, we have well over the number we had expected. It is a full hospital that I am seeing here. This is telling us that the people need help and the implementation of the UNEP report is providing that help”.
Speaking further, Dr. Dekil told the people that UNEP report has two clear mandates to remediate all impacted sites in Ogoni land and restore livelihood.
In the aspect of livelihood, the Coordinator stated that the agency is working in collaboration with the United Nations, which produced the report including UNITAR.
“Livelihood is an on-going thing, which we are also discussing with various arms of the United Nations including UNITAR. The honourable Minister of State for Environment,Usman Jubril has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UNITAR to this effect. He has also succeeded in getting the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to secure for us Project Management, Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation consultants”.
Dr. Dekil further stated that oil exploration in Ogoniland has adversely affected their livelihood and as such there is a need to come up with modern skill form of livelihood, where the people will be given training in certain skills in order to eke out a source of livelihood necessary in their environment.
“The report is about using the 1 billion dollars allocated for the project to remediate impacted sites across Ogoni land. It is about using it to restore livelihood. It is not about sharing money. Our expectation for the project is that at the end of the day, we would have clean our water, our underground water and farm and give people skills”.
As part of the process to achieve the remediation of the sites in Ogoni land, the Coordinator said HYPREP has procured the services of environmental and health experts as well as companies that will provide water in communities across the four local government areas of Ogoni land.
“To remediate the impacted sites, we are having discussions with UNEP, who did the report as well as UNOPs for the project management and other arms of the United Nations that will be necessary. For instance, the health impact assessment study, we have been working with the World Health Organization (WHO).”
Dr. Dekil assured that the project was continual and on-going and will take a long time in achieving full implementation.
“I am appealing for you to understand that the remediation project is a process. It is not a quick thing you just expect us here in the field achieve.
Furthermore, he solicited the support of the Rivers state government for the project.
“We are calling on the Rivers State government to also throw their weight behind us because it is a collective project. The project is in Rivers state, so we need the help of the state government.
On the medical outreach, Dr. Vetty Agala who spoke in pidgin English said, “Medical Women and all women doctors wey dey for Rivers state, Na we gather together dey help HYPREP to do this work to give us medical aid. So, as you come, you go see doctor for eye, teeth, belle and any part of your body. Doctor no go first see you. You go first do lab test. Dem go check your blood whether sugar dey. Dem go check your BP. We go do all that screening. As we hear our brother talk, we want to know whether the sickness wey dey here link to the oil wey pour for ground and wey dey worry our farm and water”.
Another member of the contingent, Dr. Leloonu Nwibubasa, the medical outreach coordinator of Ogoni Doctors Form, enumerated the progress made by the outreach.
He stated that they have recorded a lot of success as hundreds of patients have been treated and provided with quality medication for their various health challenges.
“In Tai LGA, we have operated quite a number of people. Much more are being screened that will be operated today. We have done about 9 surgeries. We have over 37 on our list. For the outpatient cases today, we have registered over 371. Some have been seen at the eye section, others at the general consultation and of course, the surgical cases. In Khana LGA, we saw about 650 patients. We did 15 surgeries in the Bori General hospital. We distributed over 59 eye glasses and dental cases, we had 4 tooth extraction and other dental procedures.”
Some of the beneficiaries that spoke to GPNews, commended HYPREP for providing healthcare services to the people of Ogoniland.
A beneficiary, Mr. Raphael Agbadam, who underwent surgery, thanked the agency for saving his life.