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Bolanle Ambode’s COWLSO: One conference, many interventions

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SINCE its launch by the pioneer chairperson of Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, COWLSO, Chief Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, wife of former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the committee has metamorphosed into one of the engine rooms of the state government in delivering dividends of democracy to the people, especially, the less privileged, irrespective of class, religion, tribe, sex.
In recent times, the committee under the chairmanship of incumbent, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has grown, helping not just people in Lagos State, but Nigeria in general and beyond. “You will agree with me that women are uniquely created, endowed with skills and blessed with creativity. As helpmates, we care for the family,” with this creed, Ambode set out to work in earnest when she received the baton in 2015.

Bolanle Ambode
Ambode, no doubt has put pep into activities of COWLSO. In her maiden event, COWLSO in 2015 conference aimed at encouraging women to be self sufficient.
Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Baguda and his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola attended the event, themed, “Relevance in Economic Turbulence,” with each stressing the importance of women in nation building. She expressed confidence that women can successfully turn the globally unpleasant economic environment to their advantage, the advantage of their families and the society at large.
The conference provided new insight into establishing and maintaining good quality life. Some of the selected topics were: ‘The Woman, The Economy and Challenging Times’, ‘The Future Counts – Save Today Thrive Tomorrow’, ‘Skills – A Sure Way to Sustainable Wealth’ and ‘Government’s Support for the Women in Challenging Times.”
In the second year, Ambode decided to raise the bar when she led other members on September 28, 2016 to commission the newly Upgraded ear, nose and throat (E.N.T) Department and sponsoring of surgery for goitre patients at General Hospital, Odan, Lagos, courtesy COWLSO.
She believes that one of the founding objectives of COWLSO, is to complement the effort of the Lagos State Government, to cater for the welfare of the citizens of the state.
The 2016 COWLSO Health Project, aside of free surgical intervention for 30 patients with enlarged thyroid, focused mainly on the distribution of hearing aids to 20 school-age children and adults with hearing impairment.
According to records, hearing loss could be drastically reduced if certain procedures were seriously taken. The most important way to address the disability’s adverse effect in the society is by early examination of new-borns.
In achieving this goal COWLSO began the upgrading of the Ear, Nose and Throat, E.N.T, Department of the Odan General Hospital. It was the first of its kind in any general hospital in the state.
According to World Health Organization, It is imperative to ensure immediate treatment for infections like measles, ear infections, address complications at birth, low birth weight, avoid the use of non-prescribed anti-biotics, avoid substance abuse and ensure proper treatment of any ailment during pregnancy.
Communication plays an important role in today’s society and hearing and understanding are central to social life. People who can’t hear properly become increasingly isolated and are more likely to suffer depression.
Using hearing aid presents a number of advantages for a hearing-impaired person. Studies also show that hearing aids help affected persons get better relationship with family; feel better about themselves; get better mental health; and concentrate better at school.
The committee renovated the E.N.T department and donated brand new furnishings. COWLSO also observed with deep concern, the weekly diagnosis of women with goitre, majority of which require surgery. It is medically and socially unhealthy for goitre to be left untreated.
Surgery is more often recommended for patients diagnosed with toxic modula goiter; however, owing to the high cost of the surgical procedure, many women are unable to complete the full circle of treatment, coincidentally this condition is more prominent in women. The committee therefore decided to sponsor the surgical procedures for about 30 women.
Ambode’s words, “but be assured that there are ways to support thyroid health easily and naturally. We can adopt preventive measures, especially with the use of iodized salt in cooking. I wish to use this medium to appeal that we go for regular medical check-up.
She adds,”I have personal commendation for my lovely sisters, members of COWLSO for their steadfast commitment to the continuous improvement of the welfare of the less privileged ones in the state.
“We assure you all that COWLSO will continue to live up to the ideals of the founding mothers, which is assisting the state government to generate more happiness and improved living conditions for the people of Lagos State.” Equipment donated to the E.N.T Department include; heine otoscope, diagnostic audiometer, AD629. Video laryngoscope and propalse ear injector among others.
Recently, COWLSO donated an ultra-modern Intensive Care Unit to the Lagos Island Maternity, where Ambode, promised to continue to partner the government, to end mother and child mortality in the state.
Screening equipment
The project was the focus of COWLSO’s health intervention for the 2017 year, along with neo-natal hearing screening equipment donated to Gbagada General Hospital, Ikorodu General Hospital, Badagry General Hospital and Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital, all in Lagos State.
The 2017 project had incorporated the consolidation of the 2016 ENT intervention, targeted at the preventive aspect of hearing impairment, which is neo-natal screening.
Most of the pregnant women and their babies often die of conditions such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, convulsion or shock arising from post-delivery bleeding.
A high number of such bad cases, according to medical record, are referred from traditional birth attendants and faith-based homes.
Mrs. Ambode noted that late referral of emergency baby delivery cases from traditional birth attendants and faith-based homes to government’s health facilities, had become a major challenge, requiring the services of an ICU.
She said: ‘Now and then, we hear of many pregnant women and their babies dying of conditions such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, convulsion or shock arising from post-delivery bleeding. A good number of such cases come in extreme conditions.’
According to the World Health Organization, 60 per cent of childhood hearing loss is preventable. The consequences of not addressing hearing loss in children include difficulty in speech acquisition, delayed language development, academic under achievement, social isolation, higher risk injuries and increased poverty.
Here lies the wisdom in COWLSO’s intervention, in upgrading and strengthening the existing High Dependency Unit, to an ultra-modern Intensive Care Unit, to cope with increased number and complexity of emergency cases.
Ambode said, ‘COWLSO in the present dispensation is fully committed to the safe Motherhood Project and partnering the health facilities, to ensure that no life is lost in pregnancy and during delivery”.
The ICU commissioned is equipped with modern facilities such as humidifier, multi parameter monitors, portable multi parameter monitor and volumetric infusion pump.
Others are; Portable suction unit, blood fluid/warmer, automatic external defibrillator, marquet servo air intensive care ventilators, ICU Beds, pressure relief mattress and pump among others.
The committee also decided to consolidate on its last year’s Ear, Nose and Throat intervention, by targeting the preventive aspect of hearing impairment, disclosing that neo-natal hearing screening equipment were procured for those general hospitals, to enable early screening of newborns.
The COWLSO chairman, who brimmed with joy at the realization of the project, commended the cooperation and support of COWLSO members, the health institutions and equipment suppliers, while urging expectant mothers to always use ante-natal services for smooth baby delivery.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who noted that the Island Maternity recorded about 400 deliveries monthly, promised that professional update courses would be provided to run the unit, hinting that the state’s Strategic Health Development Plan envisioned the phased creation of zonal High Dependency Units, to serve emergency obstetric cases.
The commissioner added that, the revamping of the audiology unit of the ENT clinic at the hospital, last year by COWLSO, has had tremendous positive impact on residents with hearing impairment from cradle to adults.
Idris called on well-meaning individuals and groups, to emulate them by partnering the government in the mission to provide quality health care services to the citizenry.
Also speaking, chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Hon. Segun Olulade, showered praises on COWLSO, for complementing the efforts of the government, to achieve new levels of healthcare delivery for Lagosians.
“I must confess that COWLSO, has introduced a new dimension to humanitarian service.” he said.
He therefore urged health workers to handle them with care.
Responding on behalf of the General Hospitals that received the hearing screening equipment, the Medical Director, Dr. Bankole Olufunmilayo, copiously praised COWLSO and the governor’s wife for the intervention.
PRECIOUS Ajunwa, an Imo State born graduate of English Language Education from Abia State University, is the Project Lead and Founder, Galaxy4Peace, a youth-focused non-governmental organisation, NGO, that is centred on peace building. Growing up in a family where peace is the watchword and also driven by the desire to ensure that youths become agents of peace rather than conduits of violence, Precious decided on graduation from the university to set up an NGO to teach and pursue peace through various programmes.
In this interview with Woman’s Own, the soft-spoken Precious, who also holds a second degree in Office and Development Study from the University of Ilorin, highlighted some of her accomplishments and said that the drive to see families and the wider society co-habit peacefully has kept her going despite all odds.
Tell us about your Galaxy4Peace.
We are trying to change the narrative; the perception by the society that young people are only actors and instigators of conflict. We are trying to encourage more young people to come into the business of peace building for us to achieve sustainable development. Mahatma Gandi said that we cannot achieve lasting peace except we begin with the young people. So, young people being in the vanguard of peace building is very important.
Why is your focus on peace?
Peace is an important business though not everyone sees it like that. If, for instance, we are calling for economic development, if we are calling investors to come into our country and seeing Nigeria in a volatile state, nobody will want to invest in such a country.
Capacity building
Peace building is an important business and should be everyone’s priority.
In the four years that you have been pushing for peace using your pet project, how successful would you say you have been?
On a scale of zero to 10, we will say seven in the sense that the programme we are promoting, is quite an impressive one. The feedback we get from young people leading the peace cause after undergoing training from the capacity building we organise and the feedback we get from the schools where we run a campaign we call ‘Teach Peace Early’ basically to teach peace education in schools are quite encouraging and that is the only thing that keeps us going despite the challenges we encounter while doing the normal thing.
So, apart from the ‘Teach Peace Early’ that you spoke about, what other projects do you pursue through Galaxy4Peace?
We have a project we call ‘Peace at Workplaces’. We’ve observed that conflict happens at work places as well and when it is not properly managed, it affects both the input and output of the staff and whosoever that is involved in that particular conflict. So, ‘Peace at Workplaces’ is basically conducting conflict management training at workplaces. We go to offices; we write to offices and tell them the reason why every member of their staff needs to undergo conflict management training. One thing we all should know is that conflict is inevitable and for us to solve

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