The goitre disease that causes a major inflammation in the neck is prevalent in Nigeria especially among women. Although the government, at federal and state levels has stepped in by conducting free surgeries for patients at intervals, there is need for extra support from other quarters in ensuring that citizens are not only exposed to help but are aware of preventive measures too.
The decision to set up the Layi Erogbogbo Foundation stems from a place of heartfelt purpose and its founder, Mr Goriola Erogbogbo not only shares that with YNaija’s Impact365 but provides enlightenment on goitre, his foundation’s efforts, challenges and upcoming events.
Tell us more about Layi Erogbogbo Foundation
The Layi Erogbogbo Foundation, (LEF) – A non-profit organization dedicated to provide support with free access to goitre treatments, free surgery and post-surgery management as well as tackle this problem by raising awareness to promote knowledge of preventive measures to avoid Goiter Diseases among the Nigerian populace and encouraging lifestyle changes.
The Foundation is named after Mr Layi Erogbogbo, a former Lagos State Government Permanent Secretary who died as a result of Post–Surgery complications arising from Goitre disease.
Why did you choose thyroid patients as awareness targets?
Following the passing of the Late Mr Layi Erogbogbo, it became apparent to us that the Layi Erogbogbo Foundation can do more to prevent the loss of lives associated with thyroid diseases in Nigeria.
The Layi Erogbogbo Foundation was founded by Mr Goriola Erogbogbo, a social entrepreneur and public servant who is the first child of the Late Layi Erogbogbo, male 36, having grown up in Lagos, Nigeria, witnessed firsthand the sufferings of women and men around him from Goitre Disease. He frequently empathized with these vulnerable Nigerians by exhibiting acts of charity. This fueled a desire in him to someday make a big move to reduce the prevalence of Goitre Disease in Nigeria by creating awareness and offering free treatment for underprivileged Nigerians suffering from thyroid disorders
The disease has quietly ravaged lives of many; where survivors have suffered untowards social and economic impact due to stigmatization and hindrance to productivity.
What is thyroid, how is it contacted and what exactly does your foundation do to assist patients?
The Thyroid Gland is a soft, small bow-shaped gland, located in the front of the neck, below the voice box or larynx (Adam’s Apple) on either side of the trachea (windpipe). The role of the Thyroid Gland – The healthy Thyroid Gland uses ingested iodine from iodine enriched foods to produce thyroid hormone which regulates body and brain growth and development, body temperature, energy levels and metabolic functions. (the rate at which the body produces and uses energy from nutrients and oxygen). Thyroid hormones influence and regulate the activity of all cells and tissues in the body. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The Thyroid Gland is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland at the base of the brain. T4 (thyroxine) controls your metabolism. If there is not enough T4, your body will slow and become hypothyroid. If you have too much T4, your body will speed up and become hyperthyroid.
As T4 has an influence over every cell in your body and gives your body energy, you will notice changes, if your thyroid function changes. T4 also controls growth of the brain in the foetus and linear grown (height) in children.
The Foundation will seek grants and support from willing organizations and individuals to ensure it effectively carries out the following:
1. Promote knowledge of preventive measures to avoid goiter
2. Provide a ready resource for content on the disease
3. Fund or highly subsidize the surgeries required by identified affected citizens in areas of prevalence across Lagos
4. Promote the recovery and re-integration of the treated patients to restore their social and economic wellbeing.
What happens when things go wrong? – If the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormone, this is known as Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, which causes the body’s metabolic functions to slow down and resulting in many different adverse effects on bodily functions. If the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, this is known as Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, which causes the body’s metabolic functions to speed up causing adverse effects opposite to hypothyroidism. This is also often called thyrotoxicosis.
Is goitre a prevalent disease in Nigeria? If yes, what are the numbers?
Thyroid Disorders affect 10 times more women than men, worldwide.
It is gathered that the disease is endemic in Badagry, one of the riverside areas of Lagos State, especially in the 14 or so communities that make up Ajara, with pockets of it elsewhere in the Area. It is a common sight to find many residents with swollen necks, especially in the community of Ajara. The state government discovered the 48 sufferers during its free health mission in Badagry in 2014.
In a documented research, there is an endemic goiter survey of 3476 school children in 13 Local Government Councils (LGCs) and 1004 subjects in a whole community of one LGC, Plateau State, Northern Nigeria, to determine the prevalence of goiter as well as to identify some of the etiological agents involved. Results of the survey showed that the disease is highly endemic in the area with prevalence varying in places from 1 to 23% of these subjects. Females showed a markedly higher prevalence of goiter. Analysis of 729 urine samples indicated that iodine excretion ranged from 3.5 to 1.3 microgram/dl (32-154 microgram/g creatinine) and was similar to that in iodine deficient areas in the world, but no relation was observed between the prevalence of goiter and urinary iodine.
We are also planning to carry out our own study and research all over the country so we can get recent and more specific results.
How accessible is Layi Erogbogbo Foundation to patients who are illiterate and lack access to social media and such?
The foundation is accessible to all patients through our contact phone number 08188172081. Our website is www.layierogbogbo.org and email [email protected] We have been on radio, including the Yoruba stations which according to our research is the most effective way we can connect to the said target. We announce our work, drop our contact phone numbers on air too and we have been getting an overwhelming number of calls from patients all over.
We have visited the General Hospitals to discuss with goiter patients. We also visited the less priviledged where we sensitize them about the disease and also distribute free iodized food. We have carried out awareness campaign by sensitizing over 2645 students in Government secondary schools in Lagos State.
We are also planning an outreach we have tagged ‘The LEF Market Tour’ around Lagos, this will enable us to reach more women as they are more prone to have goiter disease. The outreach involves free thyroid screening and free iodized salt distribution.
From inception till date, how many patients have benefited from your work?
Through our sensitization and awareness program, we have been able to reach over 2645 secondary school students as earlier mentioned, we have reached over a thousand less privileged and we are planning to do our series of surgeries starting from next month.
Do you receive any support from the government at any level?
We have partnered with Lagos State Ministry of Education during our awareness and sensitization programme in government secondary schools, though the partnership did not involve them giving us money, they only provided the schools we used.
We also plan to partner the Lagos State Ministry of Health and LASUTH in our forthcoming series of surgeries. The procedure of the partnership is ongoing at the moment. It is taking a long time because of the bureaucracy involve.
What are the major challenges Layi Erogbogbo Foundation faces in its work?
In Nigeria, most NGOs face the following challenges : Lack of Trust, lack of funding and lack of volunteers.
Our major challenge has been accessing available data that reflects the true number of persons living with goitre, so this requires us to carry out our data gathering independently.
Another challenge we face is the limited funds we have considering the number of the overwhelming patients that call us everyday crying and begging us for treatment.
Getting sponsors for our outreach and other awareness programme is also a big challenge for us.
Do you have any awareness event planned for the rest of 2017?
Yes, we have the LEF market tour coming up sometimes in October where we will be conducting free thyroid and other basic tests; also we will be distributing free iodized salts for the market women.
We plan to carry out over 100 free surgeries for goitre patients in Nigeria. We plan to influence more youth towards community service.
We also plan to organize a free thyroid test screening for over 1000 Lagosians by December 2017.
We also planning our official launching of the Foundation December/January.
For more information and update on our activities per time and how you can get involved, please visit our website: www.layierogbogbo.org or follow us on our social media pages instagram – @layierogbogbofdn twitter – @layierogbogbo and facebook – www.facebook.com/layierogbogbofdn Phone number: 08188172081
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