…donates for inmates feeding

By Ime Silas

In addition to a promise on behalf of the Etinan Local Government Council to assist in other ways, the Chairman, Hon. Uko Umoh on Sunday, January 28, 2024 announced a cash donation to help in defraying backlog of salaries owed to staff of the Qua Iboe Church Leprosy Hospital, Ekpene Obom, Etinan LGA.

Hon. Umoh’s pronouncement was part of his speech during the 2024 World Leprosy Day held at the Leprosy Hospital’s Chapel, Ekpene Obom where he attended in person. World Leprosy Day is celebrated on last Sunday of January, every year.

The Council Boss said “I must say that I am highly touched by what I am seeing here as well as what the Medical Superintendent have listed as the problems facing this hospital. The challenges are enormous and I really wish that as a Council, we could handle all. Much as we can not do all at a time, we will try our best.

I have heard you mention the security of the hospital. Leave that one for us. The Council will handle it. On the feeding of the inmates… this is one thing that always breaks me down. There’s how I always feel if someone complains of hunger and ill health. 

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We will do something about it and also the backlog of salaries owed. This is a very unfortunate situation. However, they say when the righteous is on the throne, the people rejoice. Meet me in Council on Tuesday, come with the Hospital Management Committee”.

The Etinan Chairman who was responding to the challenges confronting the Hospital as listed by its Medical Superintendent, however advised them to consider handing over the health facility to the state government for adequate funding.

Others who donated during the occasion was the member representing Etinan State Constituency at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKHA), Hon. Uduak Ufot, churches and other individuals.

In his remarks, the Hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr. Charles Uko Ekanem noted the various challenges confronting the leper colony, ranging from insecurity, lack of funding, lack of electricity supply and so on.

He called on the government and public spirited individuals to come to the aid of the hospital and inmates, noting that the Ekpene Obom QIC Leprosy Hospital was the only one of its kind in the state.

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Earlier in his exhortation, Rev. Barr Ifiok Otu who drew his topic from this year’s theme: End Stigma, Embrace Dignity, advised against stigmatizing patients suffering from leprosy. The cleric noted that irrespective of any ailment, a sick person is a carrier of the image of God. He stressed that Jesus was always making himself available for the sick including the lepers.

He said “To Jesus, the lepers needed love. They needed care. How many of these lepers have you extended a hand of assistance to? Jesus said that on that day, He will tell you “I was sick and you visited me”. And would be asked, “when were you sick that we visited you”. He said when you did to that sick person, you did it for me”.

The Man of God continued “According to Gospel Luke, Jesus healed the leper because He first came in contact with them. He didn’t stigmatize against them.

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In Luke 17:12-14, the lepers shouted “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us”. And He healed them. That was a demonstration that leprosy can be healed.

Note that Jesus Christ always had contact with the lepers. Let’s not chase the lepers in our midst away, rather, let’s get close to them and render a hand of help. Let’s end stigmatization. Let our actions make them feel a sense of belonging”.

Other dignitaries who attended the event included the representatives of the Honourable Commissioners for Health and Information, Akwa Ibom State. Also in attendance were the Chairman of the QIC Leprosy Hospital Management Board, Dr. (Elder) Okon J. Emah; Hospital Secretary, Elder Enamidem Frank Udoh and Matron, Mrs. Grace M. Eyo.

Others were Elder and Mrs. Godwin Obot, Rev Nkantion, Eteidung Eboh (Village Head of Edem) Engr. Eno Ekpoh and a host of others.

The event also featured song rendition by inmates of the Leprosy Hospital.