Pamela Ajayi is the boss of Pathcare Laboratories. She also anchors Doctors on Air programme on Classic FM 97.3 every Wednesday morning, where topical medical issues are discussed.
Pathcare and Classic FM 97.3 are also the brain behind the Free Medical Mission event for free medical tests for people. The two organizations have been doing this for four years.
This year’s edition held on Saturday, August 1, 2015, at Yaba LCDA secretariat, Adekunle, Yaba, Lagos, and it was with a difference.
Aside offering free medical tests to people, many medical and health professionals were on hand to give prescriptions and advice on various health issues.
There were eye doctors who did not only conduct eye tests but also gave people drugs and glasses free of charge.
So also were the dentists, dermatologists and oncologists. The oncologists basically were for the women who they did pap smear test for. The drugs given were at no costs to the patients.
ENCOMIUM Weekly was at the event and took the opportunity to interview Dr. Pamela Ajayi, one of the brains behind the laudable programme.
What would you say informed Pathcare Laboratory, organizing this free medical tests?
Pathcare Laboratory is the premier laboratory in Nigeria and our focus is in giving accurate and reliable results and positively impacting healthcare in Nigeria. But we realized that apart from giving test results there are many areas that are important. So, part of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) is medical education. We do it in two ways. We arrange doctors forum, which is giving medical education for doctors. We bring doctors from abroad to give latest information to our doctors.
We also do the doctors on air (a radio programme on Classic FM), because abroad, medical knowledge is everywhere. Every magazine or newspaper you open, every time you put on television on radio they are always giving you medical knowledge. But in Nigeria, that knowledge is not easy to get. Sometime when you get it, you won’t get it in a form that people can really readily understand. This is in addition to the fact that in Nigeria, people always see the doctor last rather than first. They don’t understand why they need to see doctors first. There is a lot now in terms of preventive healthcare that is very important. There are some things you can prevent. If you know, there is diabetes in your family and you take the appropriate measures, you will not get diabetes. You can actually prevent getting diabetes. There are some things and steps you can take if you have the knowledge.
For example, if your blood pressure is rising and you are fat, you lose weight. You take steps to lose weight. There are several things you can do to prevent illness. Nigeria already has some of the worst indices in the world. We have a low life expectancy and that should not be. So, what we want to do is give people the knowledge, to empower them to make those decisions on their own. A lot of the time people don’t know. A lot of people don’t know their blood pressure and yet they know their ATM number and phone number. You should know your blood pressure. You should know the last time you did it what it was. I know my own. I know in the last few times what it was. I know everything. Only that knowledge can empower you to take control of your health and not be a victim to health. That is very important and that is what the doctors on air programme is all about. It is empowering people and promoting preventive healthcare.
Is this the first time you are doing this?
Not at all. This is the fourth time. Every year, Pathcare and Classic FM team up, not only to give the education but also to give access. Because one of the things we found is that when we are talking about access and know your numbers but people have no access to getting it properly done. So, we created initially to do the health screening. But from there, it has grown. We are also giving treatment. We brought in so many specialists. There are so many specialists here all giving their services free of charge.
It also shows the goodness of Nigerian doctors. So many doctors are here. Do you know what they are saying to me? Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this because they want to give back. They want to care for people. All of them have this good spirit. Do you see the quality of drugs being given free of charge by the number of pharmacists here. In a good environment where they know that it will reach the people that need them, people are always happy to give and to support our people.
I think this, for me, is so heartwarming to know that people are so good.
You mean nobody paid for all the medical personnel and facilities brought here today?
Yes, they brought them free of charge. The eye doctor for example, has been with us every single year. They do eye tests. They give out glasses. Last time they even arranged for some people to have eye surgery free of charge.
That is what I am talking about that doctors are really good. These are very good doctors. If you go to Victoria Island to see these type of doctors, you will know how much it will cost. And these are the doctors giving their services free of charge. So, it is wonderful.
Meaning everything that is provided here today by the different medical organizations is free?
Yes, it is free. Free to the patients. Everything.
How did you pull that?
It is a matter of trust. They come on our programme. They know who we are. They know that nobody here is embezzling anything. That it is going to people that it is meant to go to. So, it’s a matter of trust. They know that they come here and they give it to the people. There is nobody going behind the corner asking somebody to pay for card.
It is genuine, it is free. You have gone through it yourself.
Did anybody ask you to pay for anything?
Exactly. So, anybody will be happy to affiliate themselves with us because they know that this is a genuine event. So, more and more people are happy to join us.
So, what do you hope to gain from this laudable gesture?
There is nothing to gain from it. It’s God now. We are giving back to God. We are blessed to be a blessing. There is nothing to gain from it except the goodwill of giving to the people who need it.
We really want to know more about Dr. Pamela Ajayi. Aside listening to you on radio, not much is known about you.
I don’t like talking about my personal life. I just like to talk about medicine. Basically, I want to encourage people to know their numbers (blood pressure, blood sugar, total cholesterol, etc). I believe that everybody can do their blood pressure in Nigeria to make a huge difference. People are dying for nothing. The blood pressure is silent killer. You don’t know until you have a stroke and high blood pressure. So, people need to know their blood pressure. If the only thing I can get from this is to promote people checking their blood pressure, then I know that I have done a good thing.
Why have you always organized this in Yaba?
Not always in Yaba. We started it in Obalende. That is where Classic FM is. We just wanted to impact our immediate community initially. Then people started calling us from other places. Yaba people said come here. We will provide a place for you. Our people need it. So, we came here (Yaba). Some people are already calling us to do it in their place. We don’t know where we will do it next time. At the end of the day, the important thing is we are impacting people who need that service but cannot afford it. That’s what is important.
– TOLANI ABATTI