Nigerian-born, American-based physician and presiding pastor of the City of David Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Joseph Tarkon is set to lead a free medical outreach in Cross River State.
The medical outreach which is scheduled to take place from December 13 to 16, 2023 will bring relief to at least 2,000 members of the Ugep community in Cross River State; the largest village in West Africa, at no cost.
According to Tarkon, who relocated to the United States several decades ago, he has been deeply concerned about the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, particularly their impact on access to healthcare for the underprivileged.
He said, “I come from Cross River, so I am familiar with some of the socio-economic issues there. For six years, I have run a weekly health education show called Vital Health on radio, which aired on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Planet FM, Hit FM and Inspiration FM to assist Nigerians with basic knowledge and guidance on health-related issues. It is under the auspices of Vital Health International, which is a nonprofit organisation I founded, that I will be supporting a medical outreach in Ugep.
“I realise that a lot of people don’t know simple things in medicine and people. What they say is that, “what you don’t know will not hurt you”, but it’s not true. What you don’t know, I realise hurts you a lot because I have seen people die from simple medical conditions that are avoidable, I have seen people make decisions on medical conditions that they should not have taken if they knew any better.
“Some of my personal friends have died of simple things like hypertension you know in this age should not be killing anybody because hypertension, let me say it’s a silent killer, diabetes is a silent killer, your blood pressure is imitated, no signs no symptoms and the next you know is you develop heart attack, you develop stroke, you die suddenly”, the Doctor explained emphasising the significance of health education.
Tarkon also highlighted the prevalence of obstetric and gynecological problems in Nigeria, pointing out that the country experiences one of the highest maternal mortality rates worldwide, particularly related to antepartum hemorrhage (maternal hemorrhage) during pregnancy and post-delivery.
“As a public health physician primarily, one of the things which we discovered that will surprise you in our studies across sub Saharan Africa and across the world is that obstetrics and gynecological problems are huge in Nigeria, infact next to India Nigeria has the highest mortality and fatality from antipartum hemorrhage (maternal hemorrhage) during pregnancy and after delivery, so if we want to talk from that perspective these are mainly women issues, bleeding during pregnancies and post pregnancies but yeah, I’m trying to see if I can get an obstetrician and gynaecologist”, he revealed.
Speaking on the purpose and modalities of the outreach, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)-trained doctor, who partnered with Africa Missions Global on this outreach explained, “there are three things we want to accomplish. Number one, we will be doing leadership training. One of the issues I found across Africa, in fact, that is the greatest problem we have in Africa and Nigeria – and that is leadership development. There are two components to that. We will be training Christian leaders about the fundamentals and discipline of the Christian Faith.
“We will also be training young people on the fundamentals of leadership. How do you start a business? How do you run a business? What do you do? And how to develop for those of them who have aspirations to become political leaders. Then on Thursday (December 14) morning through evening and on Friday morning, there will be a medical mission component, and we will be addressing medical issues. We are working in collaboration with the General Hospital in Ugep. I have been there. I have spoken to doctors. I have some doctors who are coming with me from the U.S. We will be seeing patients with routine medical issues. We will also do minor surgeries. You know for the layman, every surgery is not minor. Hernia, appendix, and some simple masses here and there, abscess incision and all that”, the Doctor elaborated further.
Other events lined up include leadership masterclass for Christian ministers and young people, crusade which will be graced by top gospel artistes including Atuonwu Buchi, Omini Praise and Rev. Ethel Arikpo Odungide amongst others.
Tarkon is a Public Health Physician, a certified Global Health Professional, and a Health Education specialist with a strong passion for improving the health of individuals and communities. He is the CEO of Redeemer’s Medical Center (RMC), a not-for-profit community clinic that offers medical services to the residents of Georgia, USA.
He hosts Insight For Life, a gospel program viewed globally on DSTV, StarSat, Sky UK, GOtv, StarTimes, and Free TV. He is on the board of directors of Africa Missions, North America (AMNA), a faith-based organization actively involved in designing and implementing community development projects and capacity building globally.