The health of a 13-year-old boy suspected to be suffering from leprosy and perambulating the streets of Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital is said to be in danger unless relevant government agencies intervened
This is the position of a Non-Governmental Organization, Good Living Initiative as they called on the Ebonyi State Government to take urgent steps towards addressing cases of destitute loitering the streets of the state capital.
The Director of the Organisation, Mrs. Stella Chukwuma made the call while addressing newsmen on the alleged poor handling of the 13-year-old Master Peter Nwigwe destitute by the Social Welfare Department of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Radio Nigeria gathered that Master Nwigwe was picked up by the Director of the Non-Governmental Organisation while wandering about on the streets of Abakaliki, after he had trekked for over 30 kilometres from his village, Ogbala Izenyi in Izzi Local Government Area, to Abakaliki to either secure mechanic apprenticeship or push barrow and fend for his siblings and dumb father.
However, Master Nwigwe said he was rejected in all the places he went to seek for mechanic apprenticeship or rent barrow for manifesting symptoms of a health case suspected to be leprosy on his toes and fingers.
According to Mrs. Chukwuma, the boy was loitering along Waterworks Road when she saw his deplorable condition approached him for interaction.
“I was attracted by the condition of the boy, he was looking hungry, weak and was not putting on any foot wear, I wanted to give him money but people told me he came from a far place and when I interacted with him, I noticed he had a problem,” she added.
Another member of the NGO, Evangelist Joseph Agbo, alleged that after diagnosing the boy of Leprosy at Mile Four Hospital, efforts were made by the Organisation to admit him to the Hospital but to no avail as the authorities demanded a Letter of Undertaking from any relevant government agency especially the Social Welfare Department.
“When I saw the boy I noticed blisters and open sore on his hands and legs and I suggested that he be rushed to Mile Four on getting to the hospital, he was diagnosed of Leprosy. However, the Hospital authorities told us that he would be treated free of charge but because we are not his parents we should get a letter from Social Welfare Department of the Ministry of Women Affairs.”
Evangelist Agbo claimed that all efforts to secure the letter from the Department as well as the Police and Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Welfare Matters were not successful as all said it was not their responsibility.
“I took the boy to Her Excellency’ Office and I saw Her Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Donatus Owo who called the Ministry of Women Affairs to draw their attention to the case but when we got to the Ministry we met with the Acting Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Christiana Ogbu who told us that we should go the Hospital and get the letter.
“I called the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Welfare Matters, Reverend Father Abraham Nwali but he said his duty is to facilitate money for the treatment of such case.”
Though other agencies could not be reached for comment, It was gathered that rehabilitation of destitute is purely the responsibility of Social Welfare Department and sought to know from the Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Women Affairs, Mr.s Christiana Ogbu why they shied away from performing their duties.
“I am not a Doctor to know that the boy has leprosy. It is Hospital that should refer them, so there is no way I can write a letter on what I don’t know,” she insisted.
While the bulk passing game continues, the health of Master Peter Nwigwe is deteriorating and requires urgent attention.