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London GP is transforming lives with African initiative

TEAMWORK: Dr. Jibade Salami, surrounded by his team, holds a Doctor's Travel Pack (DTP) box during the Calabar visit

LONDON-BASED GP Dr. Jibade Salami often reflects at his busy surgery about the people he has met on his overseas missions and how life-changing such trips have been. For the past four years, Salami and his brothers and sisters from Jesus House Church in Brent Park, north west London, have travelled to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to treat the health needs of some of these countries’ poorest communities.

Most recently a team of 20 medics and administrators went to Calabar in southern Nigeria. Salami explains:

“We are all volunteers – mostly doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Our ages range from 25 to 55 and we’re all from London.”

The team took medical kits obtained from UK-based charity International Health Partners (IHP). The kits, called Doctors’ Travel Packs (DTPs), comprise two boxes of primary healthcare medicines, with approximately 800 treatments for adults and children. Packs typically include antibiotics, anti-fungals, analgesics, antacids, anti-inflammatories, anti-parasitics, eye drops/ ointment and inhalers. Most products are for acute conditions.

All the medicines are donated from companies such as Walgreens Boots Alliance, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson.

The health team, which belongs to Jesus House’s wider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department, spent 10 days in the community.

“Calabar and southern Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. We had two midwives and a gynaecologist among us who provided antenatal and post-natal care,” Salami said.

Another issue in this area is high blood pressure and diabetes.

“We focused on educating people, prescribing medicines and explaining if they look after themselves properly they can live longer, healthier lives,” he said.

“Our goal was to ensure they first got the medicines they needed and secondly be better educated about their health.”

Thirty-five per cent of the people they treated had high blood pressure. The team was able to treat patients with high blood pressure and antenatal medicines from the DTPs.

News about the team’s arrival and the medicines soon reached the surrounding villages.

“When we arrived, the community held a party for us. African communities are very friendly and welcoming,” he added.

“They realised that none of us were sponsored, and that we were volunteering our time.

“They saw that we were there because of love. This motivated them to publicise that we were at the clinic.”

Impact

Salami, a 46-year-old married father of two, has no doubt that the team has had a positive impact on the health needs of the people of Calabar. However, the trip was also life-changing for the team.

“It does something for you personally that you can’t replicate. You get a fulfilment like no other. Most clinicians come into this field to help and of course to make money,” he said.

“But, primarily to make a difference in people’s lives.

“When I’m doing my work here, I smile to myself because just two paracetamol tablets has made all the difference to someone who may otherwise not have been able to access it.”

If you would like to know more about IHP and how you can take a Doctors’ Travel Pack overseas email p.keys@ihpuk.org.

To donate to IHP’s Middle East Appeal click here.

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