By Biodun Akande
Bowen University Teaching Hospital BUTH, Ogbomoso, Oyo State in collaboration with Damien Foundation Belgium (DFB) has inaugurated a leprosy clinic in Ogbomoso Oyo State.
The Leprosy health clinic was recently renovated and equipped by the Damien Foundation, a non-governmental organization from Belgium.
A statement by Public Relations Officer of Bowen University, Iwo, Mr. Gboyega Aderoju, said the renovation of the clinic as well as the equipment of its theatre was as a result of the age-long existing memorandum of understanding between the Baptist Medical Centre (now Bowen University Teaching Hospital and Damien Foundation, Belgium (DBF).
Commending this support by DBF, the Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, said the collaboration of Oyo State with the foundation since 1993 had been very supportive in the area of tuberculosis and leprosy control.
He reiterated that Damien Foundation had supported the state in upgrading the facilities at Chest Hospital Jericho in Ibadan with the aim of transforming the hospital to a WHO recognized multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) treatment hospital.
The Chief Medical Director of BUTH, Dr. Samuel U Eyesan represented by the Director of Clinical Services, Dr. A.T. Awotunde, had earlier enumerated some of the achievements of the Damien Foundation Belgium in Baptist Health Service in Ogbomoso to include eradication of tuberculosis and leprosy; provision of portable water, provision of electricity to patient houses at the leprosy centre; sponsorship of children of leprosy patients to primary and secondary schools; empowering children of leprosy patients in small trades and skilled apprenticeship and up-grading health facility to a referral centre for reconstructive surgery.
In his speech, the Country Representative and Medical Adviser Damien Foundation, Dr. Osman Eltyaeb, said the renovation of the facility and the equipped theatre and physiotherapy unit that was commissioned was aimed at providing a conducive atmosphere in performing reconstructive surgery and ulcer care.
The centre stands as the only health facility of its type in Nigeria.
Dr. Eltyaeb expressed the gratitude of the foundation to the management of Bowen University Teaching Hospital for its commitment and collaboration to make the facility a reality.
He also used the occasion to request for the provision of additional health personnel by BUTH so that the investment of the foundation would meet its purpose.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Bowen University, Professor John Akande, who represented the institution at the commissioning, cautioned people against stigmatization of leprosy patients in the county, noting that isolation of leprosy patients increases stigma.
He added that leprosy patients deserve collective efforts of both Damien foundation and Bowen University Teaching Hospital to maximally utilize the provided rehabilitative facilities.
The Damien Foundation Belgium was named after a leper priest who was born on January 3, 1840.
He joined the sacred Hearts Fathers in 1860 and volunteered in May 1873 to serve as resident leper priest in Molokai Island.
Damien Foundation has been partnering with Baptist Medical Centre (now Bowen University Teaching Hospital) for the past 24 years in the area of tuberculosis and leprosy control.