A Medical Mission To Badagry Prison With Onyeka Onwenu

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Healthy-Pink Initiative has a whatsapp community for ladies. In this platform, ladies discuss health issues,  ask health questions, share health tips and generally add value to one another in various ways; a really, fun community.

We were as usual sharing our tips and engaging in one of our discussions when a member of the group shared a post of the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Nigerian prisons. The post mentioned among other things that under-aged persons and children were also in prisons. It painted a picture of children suffering with various skin diseases, hunger, and medical conditions. It mentioned that Onyeka Onwenu had heard about this and had decided to do something about it. To that effect, She (Onyeka Onwenu) was going on a mission to Badagry prison to provide some succor to the prisoners, especially the children among them. Trust the mothers and women in the group. You know how the thoughts of children can bring any mother and most women to positive action. They decided that as women we could also do something, no matter how little about the plight of the children in the prison. And everyone started donating. Different amounts ranging from one thousand to ten thousand naira were contributed by women on a mission to do some good and wipe tears from the eyes of children in prison. In the space of less than 24 hours, about forty four thousand naira was raised by the women. The doctors of healthy-pink initiative were mandated to join Onyeka Onwenu on her mission and support her by offering free medical treatment to the children.

The money donated was used to buy some drugs for the inmates, majorly skin preparations, antibiotics, anti-malarials, and vitamins. Onyeka Onwenu was contacted and she welcomed the idea. We were officially on a mission to the prisoners of Badagry prison. On her part, Onyeka Onwenu used her influence to provide over 200 muoka foam mattresses to the inmates, as most of them slept on the bare floor.
Well, when we got there we discovered that other people had already started taking action and most of the children had already been removed. However, we saw lots of young people – eighteen and nineteen year olds. Many said they had done nothing wrong but were at the wrong place at the wrong time. They got raided by police men and since they had no bribe to give the police men were carted off to prison without a fair trial. A lot of them were awaiting trials. Almost all of them or the ones we came in contact with were poor with no one to defend them and so their condition was miserable. Almost all the inmates had one form of skin disease or the other. They were all itching, with scaly rashes of different varieties and some confessed that their penises and anus had been “eaten up” by skin disease. All of them complained of hunger and they looked malnourished and pale. Some had medical conditions including upper respiratory tract infections, untreated open sores, malaria, poor sleep to mention a few. Some looked like they had some form of immune deficiency (maybe HIV) as they looked extremely wasted and ill. One in particular was breathless, coughing, thin and in obvious critical medical condition. They however, had no doctor attending to them. Only a nurse, who from all indication really didn’t offer them any health care. She complained that a lot of them needed secondary care (from a general hospital) but there was no one to cater to the medical bills and so they were just abandoned in their state like that.

Anyway, Healthy-Pink Initiative did the little they could with the little resources they had. But their efforts only scratched the surface. People have to do what they can to improve the lot of prisoners. They are in dire need of medical care. They also need better food and more attention. We have to challenge the practice of police men raiding places and just packing everyone to prison without a fair trial; especially those who cannot buy their way out (the poor).  We have to challenge our judicial system that leaves sometimes innocent prisoners to rot in prisons for many months and years while awaiting trial. We have to do a lot of things. But we can start small, do a little. Who knows how far a little can go?

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