Since assumption of office as the First Lady of Akwa Ibom, Dr Martha Udom Emmanuel, has demonstrated that poise to touch the lives of women, girls, boys, widows, pregnant women, the less privileged and other vulnerable individuals in positive ways, through various programmes she has carefully packaged to enrich humanity, development and democracy as well as contribute to the success of the Completion Agenda of the present administration in the state, led by her husband, Gov Udom Emmanuel.
Like the Biblical Martha, Akwa Ibom First Lady loves to care and give succour to the less privileged and vulnerable insociety, using her pet project: Family Empowerment andYouth Reorientation Path Initiative (FEYReP), which servesas a social interventionist vehicle.
In line with its core objectives, FEYReP has been the harbinger of hope to the vulnerable and indigent in addition to being a major champion of family empowerment programmes, particularly those targeting women and the girl-child for more than six years now.
Through FEYReP, the Akwa Ibom First Lady has provided non-governmental interventions on social issues as gender-based violence, rape, poverty, cancer awareness, children’s wellbeing, adolescent pregnancy, girl child education and empowerment and provided economic lifeline for vulnerable families including those with disabilities. She has supported youth development through re-orientation and economic empowerment, educational support programmes andhas impacted positively on the state government’s food sufficiency drives.
One important way FEYReP has greatly impacted the lives of the people is health intervention programmes, executed in recognition that the wellbeing of citizens remain an essential ingredient in the development. Moreso, since health is often said to be wealth and the fact that only healthy individuals would really enjoy the various dividends of good governance provided across the state by the Udom Emmanuel administration.
As part of this, FEYReP has partnered government agencies, non-governmental organisations, international development partners and corporate bodies like Pfizer, Neimeth International Pharmaceutical Plc and MTN Foundation, etc to implement health programmes.
Under the partnerships, FEYReP’s Eye Restoration Scheme has benefitted 15,000 persons in efforts to curtail the devastating effects of blindness. Its mass deworming exercise benefitted over 48,520 children, while its free surgical care has so far benefitted 6,468 persons, all in efforts to promote healthy living and ensure a healthier state.
The First Lady’s avowed determination to render selfless service that have direct positive impact on the lives of Akwa Ibom people, saw her launch the Martha’s Pregnacare Outreach, in 2018 as a subset of FEYReP, to reduce infant morbidity and maternal mortality in the state by educating expectant mothers and assisting them to cope with the demands of pregnancy.
At the second phase of the Outreach, 200 pregnant women from the 31 local government areas of the state benefitted, while 300 pregnant women from the 31 local government areas of the state benefitted from the third phase of Martha’s Pregnacare Outreach, which featured free medical tests, health seminar and gifts of free pregnancy starter kits to the pregnant women, from Dr Martha Emmanuel, who stressed the need for pregnant women to always seek antenatal care at health institutions. Although she is not against the practice of traditional birth attendants, the governor’s wife is most concerned about the procedure of delivery in those homes, coupled with unwarranted cases of death and transmission of deadly diseases. There is need to also mention that a baby born without anus had reconstructive surgery; 4 benefitted from free goitre jawbone re-constructive surgery; another 4 underwent bone malformation corrective surgeries; while 6 youths aged between 21-28 were sponsored for brain tumour surgery, all courtesy of the governor’s wife.
She encourages good dieting, family planning, registering early in clinics for antenatal care, engaging in proper medical check-ups for early detection of any anomaly during pregnancy and giving support to their husbands by engaging in economic activity to reduce pregnancy related deaths and ameliorate the sufferings of nursing mothers.
To eradicate cases of breast and cervical cancer, which is still a cause of death among women, Dr Martha Emmanuel has staged several cancer awareness campaigns where women were advised to go for regular breast and cervical examination for early detection and treatment. As part of her commitment to support and strengthen public healthcare system in Akwa Ibom communities, FEYReP has donated equipment and consumables to health centres in the state and built a Primary Healthcare Centre in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
For these and many more, the Akwa Ibom First Lady deserves commendation and support by all and sundry in the days ahead.