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CLAUDIANA IBIJOKE SANWO-OLU: Celebrating A Woman Of Grace At 55.

Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" – Nelson Mandela.

The above inspirational quote by the great Nelson Mandela succinctly captures the philosophy and core values of the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu who strongly believes in the fact that the essence of life and success is to touch lives positively and make an enduring impact on humanity.

For her, you have been blessed to bless others, and as such, your time, resources, energy, intellect, successes, and achievement in life have been given to you not only to enjoy alone but also to be deployed towards making the world a better place. 

Today, January 8, 2022, this great woman of grace and the amiable wife of the 15th Governor of Lagos State, is 55.

Ever since the coming on board of her husband, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu as the Governor of the State of Aquatic Splendour and Centre of Excellence, Dr. Claudiana has been working greatly to support the quest of the administration to make life meaningful to residents of Lagos State, especially women, girls, boys, and children.

As a medical practitioner with about three decades of practice and one who rose to the pinnacle of the profession as the Chief Medical Director of some health facilities, the last being Somolu General Hospital before she retired from the service of Lagos State Government, she has worked and continues to work behind the scenes to support the THEMES Agenda of the present administration designed to engender a greater Lagos of our dreams.

Being her primary constituency, the First Lady has intervened in no small measure towards ensuring improvement in healthcare delivery, especially in terms of various initiatives and projects to support the provision of qualitative, affordable, and equitable healthcare services in line with the THEMES Agenda. In the last one year, so many initiatives have been implemented in the sector to prove this standpoint.

For instance, during the flag-off of the 2021 annual Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH) Week, a project which the First Lady is passionate about, it emerged that in the previous edition, a total of 3,899,323 children between the age of 6 and 59 months were given vitamin A supplement and 3,369,417 children from 12 to 59 months were dewormed.

Over 200 children were identified as malnourished and managed with the locally produced Ready-to-Use Therapeutic paste known as Eko Baby Chop up. Over 17,500 pregnant women and nursing mothers received antenatal and postnatal care, while about 216,904 women and men within the childbearing age were provided with family planning services.

All these were done free of charge during the MNCAH Week which provides an essential opportunity for the state to increase access to life-saving, free and impactful healthcare services to citizens.

Still on health intervention, aside from participating in the conceptualization, planning, and launching of several programs of the state government in the sector, she equally intervened through some novel initiatives and building on other existing programs for optimal service delivery.

In this regard, on January 26, 2021, the First Lady unveiled three Chest X-Ray Free Screening Vans at Evans Square, Ebute-Metta as part of efforts to scale up the fight against Tuberculosis in Lagos State.

It has been established that Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among infectious diseases, and according to available statistics, a total of 38, 277 TB cases were missed in Lagos in 2019, while the introduction of TB Chest X-Ray screening was conceived and implemented to complement the existing 1,249 TB DOTS centers and 18 State-of-the-art X-Ray machines across the state to drastically reduce the number of missed TB cases in subsequent years.

Specifically, the initiative of the Lagos Chest X-Ray Free Screening Vans was designed to bridge the gap of inadequate logistics for TB diagnosis, improve childhood TB diagnosis and ultimately bring TB diagnosis and care to the doorsteps of Lagosians.

In commemoration of World Cancer Day, the First Lady, on February 4, 2021, rolled out an ambitious exercise of the state government designed to generate demand and screen 210,000 women for cervical cancer in Lagos State free of charge by the end of 2021.

Through the statewide cervical cancer secondary prevention program, the state government intends to provide free cervical screening and if abnormalities or pre-cancer stages are detected, such will be treated free of charge in over 62 healthcare facilities in the state.

This is particularly instructive when benchmarked with the goal of the administration of Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, which is to ensure that cervical cancer is eliminated in Lagos State and Nigeria. All women – no matter where they live, their income, their race, or their level of education – would be allowed to get screened at no cost and lead healthier lives. 

For the First Lady, it was important for people to understand that early detection and treatment are critical to prevent cancer-related deaths. She believes that the message must be cascaded to the nooks and crannies of the state, while the people are mobilized for action and change the narrative through collective action to ensure that no woman develops cervical cancer, let alone die from it.

Another priority area for the First Lady is the issue of mental health. The fact remains that there is no health without mental health, yet the awareness regarding this major medical situation is abysmally low.

Therefore, the Office of the First Lady put together a Press Briefing in collaboration with a group of Doctors, Psychiatrists, and other professionals under the auspices of a not-for-profit organization, Orunsii Wellcare Foundation, to unveil a flagship campaign tagged: “Mental Health Awareness, De-stigmatisation and Enlightenment (MHADE) in Lagos State.”

The MHADE in Lagos project was subsequently formally launched and it was designed to garner critical data on the prevalence of mental health to aid planning and facilitate awareness on early signs of this medical condition in communities across the state.

Through the initiative, over 100 volunteers were recruited and trained on data collection and gathering, while they were afterward deployed for a pilot study at the Alimosho Local Government, being the council with the highest population density of over 11million.

W.H.O report indicates that one in four persons is currently living with a mental health condition, while it has also been empirically established that no one is immune to the effects of neglect of their mental health.

More than before, people have a duty and responsibility to focus on their mental health, and this was the focus of the MHADE in Lagos Project towards bringing the issue of mental health to the front burner.

Also, within the period under review, as part of efforts to ramp up healthcare delivery, the First Lady played a key role in the newly constructed Radiology, Orthopedic, and Dialysis Departments at the General Hospital, Odan, Lagos.

The facilities, alongside an additional Conference Centre with the capacity to accommodate 600 participants, clearly demonstrated the commitment of the present administration of Mr. Governor to scale up healthcare in line with the THEMES Agenda.

The need to undertake the construction, according to the First Lady, is to fast track diagnosis regarding orthopedic and radiology and as well help with the treatment of patients requiring dialysis, among others.

In terms of the annual first baby of the year celebration championed by the Office of the First Lady in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Dr. Claudiana has also expanded on this laudable initiative which is one of the platforms to play up maternal and child care. 

This year, three health facilities namely the Harvey Road General Hospital, Yaba; Onikan General Hospital, Lagos Island; and Lagos Island Maternity Hospital were visited by the First Lady where she received and celebrated the first babies of the year. 

In 2021, she visited General Hospitals in Mushin, Alimosho, Orile-Agege, and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), while in 2020; the First Lady visited General Hospitals in Ijede, Agbowa, Ketu-Ejirin, and Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, thereby extending the initiative to facilities that were yet to benefit from it.

On intervention to ramp up gender equality, promotion of menstrual health hygiene, and attainment of SDGs with a special focus on the welfare of women and children, in collaboration with a private firm, Procter & Gamble Nigeria Limited, the First Lady, and the state government distributed over 500,000 diapers to health facilities, religious bodies, NGOs, and various rural and peri-urban communities

In appreciation of various initiatives to support the health sector, two primary health care facilities in Lagos Island East LCDA, and Somolu Local Government were named after the First Lady as Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu Primary Healthcare Centre. 

Also, realizing the nexus between health and environment, the First Lady initiated Market Sanitation and Visitation, while the initiative was further scaled up with regular seminars for market men and women on sanitation, security, and safety.

The seminar is carried out through a tripartite arrangement between the Office of the First Lady, the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), and the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs. The second, third, and fourth series of the seminar on market sanitation, security, and safety were held in 2021 for market men and women in Ikorodu Division, Ikeja Division, and Badagry Division respectively.

With regards to the fight against all forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), the First Lady has not hidden her passion in this direction. However, the 2021 edition of the annual global 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls was celebrated in a special way in the state by the First Lady.

To kick-start the activities, the First Lady held the 3rd Grassroots Community Sensitization Programme for Political Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations through which SGBV issues were thoroughly explained to the participants. This was preceded by an earlier seminar for NGOs and Civil Society Organizations working in the communities across the state on the same subject matter.

In line with the global celebration, the First Lady also participated actively in the Second Annual Conference of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) held in Abuja where issues around sustaining action on the state of emergency against SGBV were discussed, while she subsequently attended an interfaith parley of religious leaders and traditional rulers where she equally preached the gospel against SGBV and gave an expert opinion on how to preserve evidence against sexual predators in the event of abuse.

She also took her advocacy to some schools namely Dolphin Senior and Junior High School, Tapa; and Aje Comprehensive Senior and Junior High School, Sabo-Yaba, where special sessions were facilitated courtesy of the First Lady by subject-matter experts for the students to engender their thorough understanding of SGBV, including the provisions of the law and what to do to avoid falling victim.

In all, over 2200 students were reached out to, while plans were perfected to set up a Sick Bay at the Dolphin Junior High School as requested and as part of efforts to contribute to the welfare of the students of the affected schools. She also donated some educational equipment to the schools including laptops, industrial cooking gas, and materials on SGBV.

Other strategic institutions visited by the First Lady included the Lagos State Judiciary, State Police Command, some NGOs, and State Headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) where she sensitized the leadership and members of transport workers on the need to join the fight against SGBV.

Six Vehicles were also presented to support critical agencies fighting SGBV. This is in addition to the earlier three presented. The beneficiaries are Family Court, Lagos State Judiciary; Directorate of Family Health and Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health; Guidance and Counseling Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Education; Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP); Auntlanda Bethel Foundation; and SGBV Response Team, Office of the First Lady.

At the level of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), the First Lady has greatly improved on the annual National Women’s Conference of the Committee so much so that it is a reference point about women empowerment and women participation in the process of governance.

COWLSO, under the leadership of the First Lady, has also done very well in terms of educational intervention, supporting the senior citizens, reaching out to NGOs, and Motherless Homes, among other efforts.

Today is truly a day to roll out the drums to celebrate the quintessential, amiable, dutiful, and compassionate Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu who has, without doubt, demonstrated unrivaled grace and exemplary leadership as the First Lady of Lagos State as she clocks 55.

 

God bless our sweet mummy!

 

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