On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Chief Benjamin Kalu, the APC candidate contesting for House of Representatives, Bende Federal Constituency embarked on a fact finding visit to the Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre located in the Uzuakoli Ward of his constituency.
He was received by Mrs. Ezinne Mmereonye, the second-in-command at the Centre. Chief Kalu stated that his visit was an effort to appraise the activities of the Centre and to acquire more information in order to enable him attract federal presence to the Centre and to make adequate representation showcasing his constituency’s strengths and areas of needs to the federal government, local and foreign NGOs and other world health bodies.
Mrs. Mmereonye showed Chief Kalu around the premises which was in a dilapidated state and in urgent need of repairs, pointing out that the facility was understaffed and in need of security. At the time of the visit, there were about 7 leprosy patients admitted in the Centre and several discharged patients living in the colony. When asked about their success rates, Mrs. Mmereonye declared that the Centre had a 100% success rate of leprosy and tuberculosis treatment. Chief Benjamin Kalu inquired about the welfare of the patients and the colony was told that the government allocations for the welfare and feeding of the patients had stopped coming, leaving the patients to fend for themselves.
Members of the leprosy colony also addressed Chief Kalu. They complained of neglect by the government after the tenure of His Excellency, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu as Governor of Abia State ended. They also pled for the provision of mobility gadgets including crutches and artificial limbs for up to 34 people in need of them. Chief Kalu, visibly disturbed by the sad state of affairs at the Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre, thanked the administrators and promised that upon his election into the House of Representatives in 2019, he would make it an important part of his representative functions to attract the presence of the federal government to the Centre. He promised to make mobility devices available for those in need of them and also expressed his intentions to lobby at the highest levels for the upgrade and conversion of the Centre to a fully operational Federal Centre for Disease Control.
Before he left, Chief Kalu paid a courtesy call at the home of Very Reverend Joshua Okpara, Director of Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre, after working hours. Reverend Okpara, upon hearing Chief Benjamin Kalu’s plans to assist the Centre, thanked him and prayed with him for his success in the forthcoming general elections 2019.