Akin Akande, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo on Wednesday at the State House, Abuja submitted themselves to a comprehensive stroke test to kick-start a nationwide campaign against sudden deaths caused by the ailment.
The tests meant to launch the ‘National Stroke Prevention Programme’ were carried out inside a mobile clinic at the forecourt of the State House by medical consultants from the National Hospital, Abuja.
The ceremony took place half way into the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and was witnessed by Ministers, Presidential aides and some other staff of the Presidential Villa.
Speaking to journalists after the Council meeting, Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the programme was approved by the President as part of measures to tackle the rate at which Nigerians collapse and die in recent times.
The Minister added that the programme was evolved to encourage people to check up their health status regularly to prevent sudden death.
Said the minister: “The health awareness programme is to help Nigerians check up on their health on regular basis to take fitness seriously and take close attention to their life styles.
“Apart from in-born pre-conditions, the main causes of stroke and heart-attack are things that can be prevented like hypertension, diabetes, lack of exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking and so on.
“The President felt something needed to be done on a national scale. So the President and the Vice President demonstrated leadership by example by allowing themselves to go through the same process.
“They were seeing by consultant Doctors who carried out some tests on them such as body mass index, measurement of height and weight, blood pressure.
“The President approved of the program to be managed by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Federal Teaching Hospitals and other hospitals in the country as well as the Nigerians in Diaspora to execute the programme,’’ he said.
Chukwu said the cost of the test is about N50,000 but that the government has subsidised it and reduced the cost to N10,000 particularly, for indigent Nigerians.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who also briefed the media at the end of the FEC meeting disclosed that the International Financial Corporation (IFC) had shown commitment to finance the critical gas backbone pipeline infrastructure projects in the country.
She said the decision to finance the gas infrastructure was sequel to the transparent manner the government handled the privatisation process of the energy sector.
The Minister said government is particularly interested in the financing of the development of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) line.
She explained: “The IFC commended the power privatization process saying it is one of the most successful in the World.
“It was based on the successful privatization process that the IFC made commitment to support the gas project.
The mobilization of the financial support is expected over the next six months,’’ she said.
Speaking in same vein, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, said government would in the next few weeks organise a forum for the new investors in the power sector and the local and international financial institutions.
He also disclosed that the Islamic Development Bank had already budgeted a sum of $2 billion to be invested in the private sector in Nigeria.