BY BISI ALABI WILLIAMS
BISI Bright is the Representative of Africa/Middle East International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), the global federation of national associations of two million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. She is also the first vice chairman and CEO of LiveWell Initiative (LWI), a non-governmental organisation that focuses on reducing health illiteracy and improving life expectancy.
“The LiveWell Initiative is a community based, not-for-profit organisation with international focus. Since its inception in 2007, the group has provided free health empowerment programmes to over 1.4 million Nigerians and 3,000 Ghanaians including the physically challenged. Yet, it’s not funded by government or any group,” Bright says.
The NGO, which launched its academy, the LWI Academy, through which it hopes to reach out to millions of Nigerians, Ghanaians and other Africans. The NGO collaborates with various local, national and international organisations and has got the endorsement of the US Consulate General in Nigeria, for its effort in the area of public and grassroots health empowerment programmes.
She says, “it was established to fill the health literacy gap by empowering people with health literacy, which is different from functional literacy. Having realised that a lot of technocrats, high-flying individuals and whiz kids have very low health literacy level, we decided to bridge the gap.
“Our programmes are, however, open to all — the rich, poor, young, old, lettered and unlettered. We decided to add value to the social space through health literacy and empowerment.”
As a way of empowering people, the organisation recently trained and graduated seven officers at the Lagos Business School (LBS) and Enterprises Development Centre (EDC).
The lady retorts: “It is God-given inspiration, and which also emanates from a few experiences I had. I was shocked to my marrows when I heard of the death of a 44-year-old female engineer, who suddenly died of heart attack. This made her family members angry, that the lady was ignorant of her health condition. So, with that, God, through one of my children, told me to start an initiative that will enlighten people on health issues and that birthed LWI.”
The LWI runs different programmes throughout the year; however, the most popular is the ‘health literacy’ aspect. “We run at least 60 programmes a year, which comes to an average of five programmes a month. One unique feature is that all the programmes offer free healthcare services to the people.
“Some of the programmes range from workplace wellness, work life balance, executive health seminars and health awareness campaign in market places, garages and mechanic villages, as well as the LWI Academy (LWIA) training in First Aid/CPR, Health Safety and Environmental Management.”
She adds: “We also run community health outreaches in rural, semi-rural and urban areas; deworm children, teach school children about etiquette, personal hygiene and hand washing. Our school’s programme covers drug abuse and disuse, as well as our ‘Project Diabetes,’ which teaches children (and adults) about diabetes and obesity and, and how to eat right. This project is in line with Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’. In addition, the LWIA trainings cover self-esteem building, youth empowerment and other humanitarian activities.”
ON Grand Health Bazaar (GHB) and networking, Bright says: “The objectives are of threefold: to promote health and wellness among corporate citizens by sensitising them to the importance of health, as it relates to commerce and productivity with a view to improving overall work-life balance; to promote organisational health in the corporate sector through a motivational, exciting, learning and rewarding exposition, which will enhance the individual health and overall corporate health of the citizen; and to promote inter-sectoral health by initiating cross-cutting health sector collaborations in a mutual synergy.”
The LWI GHB 2011 was the first health multi-sectoral bazaar in the Nigeria. It focuses on women’s e-Health and adult immunisation. The show attracted endorsements and accolades from organisations such as the US Consulate General (USCG), UN Millennia 2015, Millennia 2015 Zimbabwe and others.
Bright reveals that the training programmes compete with organisations such as the LBS and Phillips Consulting due to its exquisite, innovative and highly qualitative nature run in ‘clean air’ venues like Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Elion House Hotel, Ikoyi and The Marco Polo, V.I, Lagos.
“This quarter, we intend to mount a ‘Domestic Health Fair’ for all drivers, cooks, gardeners, housemaids, nannies and other domestic servants. It will be a very interesting one, and we are looking out for collaborations. We want to do this because most domestic servants do not have access to any form of healthcare except in emergencies when they get minimum access and they are made to pay a refund by their bosses,” she says.
On reaching the youths through camping programmes, Bright opines: “We will also run a Youth Camp Outreach in partnership with the MFM Camp, and our bulk internship programmes with Babcock University as well as other institutions. We will also run an ‘open air’ Free Health Mission for the public. This is the third year the programme is running and it usually costs us a lot of money. However, we run the programme yearly at strategic locations, and we always experience large turnout.”
While saying they are looking at partnering with corporate organisations to boost their financial base, empower more people and develop programmes, she reveals, “the major challenge faced is finance. We run two offices with over 120 officers to cater for.
“We have over 20 doctors, pharmacists, several nurses, public health professionals, microbiologists, biochemists, engineers, lawyers, administrators, business study graduates and others. Our programmes are in very high demand, but funding has been a major challenge. However, we intend to overcome it by improving our income generating drive,” she says.