THE INSIGHT AND JOURNEY OF FREDICARE HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Depression is a mental disorder that negatively affects how people think, feel and act. About 5% of adults globally suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a contributor to the global burden of disease. In a bid to better understand the health implication of depression on people living in the local community, Runways Magazine contacted Dr. Fred Itobore, Medica Director of Fredicare Healthcare Service to share his insight. In the exclusive interview, Dr. Fred also share some intriguing facts about how Fredicare Healthcare Service came into the limelight.
FACTS ABOUT DR. FRED AND FREDICARE HEALTHCARE SERVICES
I’m Dr. Fred Itobore. The Medical Director of Fredicare Healthcare Services. Fredicare is not just a hospital or a clinic; it is a movement. It’s a movement of health professionals that includes; doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and others.
It all began as a medical outreach where we reach out to communities with our free medical care. This movement was borne out of a passion for the profession. Sometimes ago, in my local community, I saw how difficult it was for people in remote areas to access healthcare. This challenge made me ask myself, “is it possible for me to have a medical team that can reach out to villages and communities where there is no healthcare?” Honestly, that was how the vision (Fredicare) came into the limelight.
From that golden moment, we began reaching out and affecting lives with our free medical care in various local communities. It was really good to see people appreciating our efforts so far. People were really eager to see more of our services due to the way we attended to their health cases. Following that, the people’s urgent and ongoing needs gave birth to FREDICARE HEALTHCARE CLINIC.
Fredicare is a place where people can visit to follow up on their health and physically talk with health professionals about any health-related issues.
THE EDUCATIONAL/PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
The journey started far back at Delta State University, Abraka. My passion was to study medicine and surgery, but I did not get the choice of course I wanted. Instead, Delsu gave me another course, Human Physiology. I had no choice but to go with what was given to me at that time. Even when I was at the 300 level at the university, I still had a strong drive to study medicine and surgery.
To fulfil my dream, I had to write another entrance examination (JAMB). As God will have it, I finally gained admission to study medicine and surgery. Today, I am one of those achievers who would be proud of having two degrees.
I later proceeded to the University of Benin (Uniben) to acquire my Master’s Degree in Public Health. Thereafter, I bagged a degree and a master’s from the John Hopkins School of Public Health in the United Kingdom.
In the course of my professional service, I’ve had the opportunity to visit some neighbouring countries, like Ghana, to further my study of malaria. I can confidently say that the health profession has taken me around the world. I enjoy what I’m doing.
FACTS ABOUT FREDICARE HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Fredicare is a global vision of health professionals who come together to attend to the medical needs of the people. Fredicare Healthcare Services is not limited to hospital services alone but cuts across clinics, maternity, laboratory, global health, and other medical fields. It’s about everything you can think of in the medical world.
FREDICARE’S CORE VALUES
Two of our core values are selflessness and passion for solving the health needs of people. We render selfless services and are not money conscious. We’ve come to realise this principle over the years. Fredicare is really known for solving healthcare problems.
FREDICARE’S TRACK RECORD
Yes (we have good track records). The race was not easy in any way. It all started as a dream from inside a room apartment. I shared the idea with like-minded people but some didn’t understand it at the inception. You see, my life has been confusing to most people. Those who don’t understand me usually say to my face, “we don’t really understand who you are. Are you a doctor, lab scientist or stenographer? Who exactly are you? We want to truly know!”
The reason why I seem complicated to people is that I’m someone who started everything (my life and career) from scratch. I did my grassroots work. I didn’t just want to be a doctor, sitting in the office and expecting people to come to see me and all.
There were a lot of misunderstandings about my personality, what I stand for, and who I am. You know, people always see this medical profession as a pride-ridden one. As a doctor, everybody wants to see you. Because of that attached sentiment, you feel like a superior. However, here comes a doctor who doesn’t have such feelings and is willing to stoop to the level of the people. I can come to your home and attend to your medical needs as well as perform some basic tests! This feeling made some people say things like, “Oh doc, you mean you’re coming to my house? “We thought we were supposed to visit the doctors in the hospitals!“
Truly, the beginning was not easy, venturing into such a heavy task. This approach (of mine) made some people think that I was not genuine (the mentality of visiting doctors in the hospital). But gradually, I reached the unreached in society and won a name for ourselves.
Medicine is not a profession that needs to be advertised. Someone will tell someone else about you. And that person will tell someone else about you. From that moment people begin to know you. That is how people got to know us and we became famousDr. Fred
The grassroots campaigns made us famous. I met those who really know me, today, in the street. They see me as a street doctor (to date). The funniest part is that I attended to patients with my first aid box. Seriously, when we started stagging our medical outreach, we moved doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab scientists, and other healthcare professionals to any community as a team. We ensure to deliver, on the spot, any healthcare services anyone can get from the hospital.
Most of the time, we work with community leaders. These community leaders help us with strategic locations for our operations – e.g. town hall, school compound, etc. Today, we are still living up to our mandate and calling.
In manifestation, Fredicare has been existing for over 5 years now. But in terms of ideas and vision, Fredicare has been in existence for about 15 years.
THE STARTING POINT FOR FREDICARE HEALTHCARE SERVICES
I started Fredicare all alone. I realised that you need to start your vision alone before people join in the process. Initially, when I shared the idea with my friends, they didn’t really accept it. I didn’t blame them either since it seems like the idea was absurd to them. It was against the normal norm that is required of a professional. However, I had to make sure that I get the vision actualised.
The dream was like a pregnancy. Nobody could visualize what I saw. So I had to start it alone, even when those who promised to support me bowed out. At a point, these people concluded that I might be having a mental issue or confusion. This challenge made me run the race alone with my First Aid Box. Though, any time I have a job that required support, I beckoned on some of my friends (in the medical field) to help me out.
The magical thing is that, as they continued to help me out with some tasks, the vision became clearer to them. This was how they subscribed to the vision. To date, some of my friends still contact me, “Hey doc, any outreach?” “We’re willing and ready to work.“
The thing is that I always tell people that everything is not all about money. It was not easy when I started this race but very rewarding.
INFLUENCE OF LOCAL AUTHORITY IN THE SUSTAINABILITY AND GROWTH OF FREDICARE
Okay. One of the many things we enjoy in this country is the freedom to do your business (i.e. freedom to exercise your idea). We don’t have much limitations. You just have to stand with your belief and defend it.
Well, we appreciate our local authority for instilling peace, by all means, in the community. This is because a peaceful environment grants us the freedom to carry out our civic duties. We want to ensure that the lives of our workers are safe and properties are secured. The local authorities (Royal Fathers, Local Government Chairmen, Chiefs, etc.) have done their best in this aspect. If they had refused us to carry out our movement in their local communities, no one would have known Fredicare today. So, their approval of our letters and warm acceptance is a great boost to us, and it’s highly appreciated.
PILLARS OF FREDICARE
First, I’d say that we are anchoring on the word of God. Fredicare was born in the place of prayer. It’s a vision from God. I usually tell people that Fredicare is one of the hospitals with a great tendency to spread abroad from our locality.
God has truly blessed us with passionate healthcare professionals. I can’t forget the role some of my friends have played in the matters that pertain to Fredicare. In addition, I have to remember the contributions of some of our Royal Fathers, including His Royal Majesty, Dr. Wilson Ojakovo Oharisi III, the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom, and His Royal Majesty, Johnson Enemuadia Yovwino Duku, JP, RDN, King Duku II, the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor Kingdom. They ensured that Fredicare has a voice today. In fact, they saw the vision, loved it and supported its survival.
Also, there is a prominent personality that Fredicare can’t keep hidden from her record. Reverend Dr. Sylvester Odemakpore is Fredicare’s spiritual father. He believed in us when Fredicare was just a vision, at the stage of the First Aid Box, and even to date. Reverend Dr Sylvester is one of the few persons that motivates and inspires us to be at our best. You know, sometimes when we feel like we’ve done something remarkable, he usually sounds like, “is this all you can do? No…no! You are more than this….” Those words get us back to the drawing board to strategies in order to level up with his beliefs of us.
DR. FRED’S EXPRESSION ON DEPRESSION
I would say that depression is a reduction in the level of functioning. It’s a mental illness that affects the way someone functions. We usually detect someone suffering from depression when we notice that there is a significant reduction in the way the person is functioning.
THE STAGES WHERE DEPRESSION’S EXPERIENCED
Depression begins in the teenage stage. This is where the competition starts among teenagers. You know, teenagers (are always) striving to be the best in every way (in class, among fellow students or trying hard to impress teachers). Sometimes, these teenagers listen to negative words that are toxic to the mind, either from teachers or peers. These negative feelings later metamorphose and grow with them to their youthful stage.
“The truth I tell the young ones is that we are secretly in (unhealthy) competition with one another without saying or showing it. That is why, sometimes, we log into Facebook to monitor people’s lives – their progress reports and achievements. For an instance, when some people log into Facebook and bump on the update of a friend who is about getting married, or just bought a car, or just travelled out, they feel bitter about themselves. Probably, the friend in question could be younger in age. The thing is that most people go online without any meaningful intention to do anything, but just to monitor other people’s progress and affairs. However, whenever someone disappears from the social scene for a while, the chance is either such person has no new story or update to share with the world. As soon as the new story drops, you see them back online again. “Baby just arrived…my first car just arrived…a trip to Dubai…and so on!’Dr. Fred
As youths, some of the updates seen on social media make them equal themselves with others. This kind of unhealthy lifestyle builds discontentment and feelings of depression. I feel this is a satanic strategy to destroy the lives of people at a time like this. A situation where young men are lured into fraudulent acts (yahoo) and young ladies ventured into prostitution. This is the result of imbibing the competitive lifestyle of trying to impress people or live up to the taste of society. You just imagine some poor kids wanting to impress the rich. Funny enough, the rich they are trying to impress don’t know if these ones ever existed. They don’t even count these things as achievements because they were born that way.
William Shakespeare once said and I quote, “some people are born great, some achieve greatness, while some have greatness entrusting to them”. It’s possible some people can be born great. They have it all. You may not be born great, but you can achieve greatness over time. Also, there are people who are destined to be great in life. This process takes time you know. Because young people don’t want to follow due process, the urge (for instant gratification) creeps into their minds and put them in a state of depression.
The state of depression begins in the teenage stage, metamorphose at the youthful stage and deepens in adulthood. In adulthood, the ability to provide for your kids or achieve some planned pattern of lifestyle could necessities depression. It’s what I called – reality.com. This is the stage where you experience real life. And it cuts across every stage of life.
THE COGENT SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
There are various signs to show that you are in a state of depression. One of them is when you’re developing a sense of low self-esteem. You feel like everybody else is better than you. Also, when you’re always withdrawing from people (e.g. friends, family, etc.) or like to stay alone.
Another pointer is when you find yourself around merry people, yet none of the funny gigs or activities excites you in any way. Anger is also a sign you need to checkmate. If little matters get you easily angry, that’s a warning sign of depression.
THE CAUSATIVE EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON AN INDIVIDUAL
The causative effect of depression cuts across physiological and psychological sides. From the psychological perspective, we can look at depression as pressure to try hard to achieve great feats in life, among family members, friends, peer groups, individuals and society. Sometimes, there are certain medications people are exposed to which has a strong effect on their reasoning and mood. One of the most abused medications today is the opioid, popularly known as tramadol. Prolonged use of this kind of medication can lead people into a state of depression. This is because what the drug (tramadol) does is that it changes the function of the body by producing a chemical substance in the brain called, “dopamine”. When this dopamine is increased in the brain, it will definitely change the mood of the user. The person suddenly discovers the need to be alone and disassociates from people. The person starts developing unhealthy self-love. This is an issue and it’s very common in our society today, especially in Delta State.
THE EFFECT OF DEPRESSION ON RELATIONSHIPS
Depression affects relationships. This is because once you’re depressed, you tend to suspect everybody around you. At this epoch, you don’t feel comfortable around people anymore. That’s where the withdrawal case surfaced. At this point, you don’t want to talk to people anymore. And it puts you in a state where you feel people don’t understand and care about you. This is a false belief! This mental state makes you disconnect yourself from family, friends and even those who would have counselled and been of help. In fact, one of the reasons why it’s difficult for us to get people out of drugs is due to their unwillingness to open up. It takes a whole lot of counselling and talking. Sometimes, we even have to act as a prophet before we’re able to get people to talk to us. Tell a man that he’s abusing drugs or taking drugs, and he will refute it vehemently. They always see everybody as a suspect and are willing to live in their secluded world.
THE CONTROL OF DEPRESSION
Depression can be controlled. Thank God we have well-trained professionals who understand the mood of people.
“While growing up, our parents usually prepare our food in a big tray for us to eat together. That method actually unifies us and create this sort of bond that bids us together. So, when you start noticing that one of your kids is separating from others (in the family), you need to find out what is happening and address the issue straightway. If you have a child who is always secluding himself/herself in the confine of his/her room, you need to pay maximum attention to that too. You should have access to your children’s room anytime and any day. The reason is that these kids are sometimes exposed to obnoxious contents on the internet. There was a reported case of a child caught browsing the internet on “how to kill somebody”. You can imagine! This shows that we are in a tech-savvy generation where everything revolves online.”Dr. Fred
The way to control depression is to ensure you talk to people who are lonely. Try to know and understand what is wrong or the challenges they are facing. There was a case of a brilliant boy who suddenly developed a hatred for education because his mother died when he went to represent his school in a competition. The news of his mother’s sudden death affected his academic performance. He was said to have blamed the death on education. Such a boy needs serious follow-up and counselling in order to change his perceived orientation. It is important for us to look at the cause of depression and find an appropriate solution.
Moreso, sexual abuse, especially among young males and females, can trigger depression. Domestic violence can also cause depression too. In some cases, there are people who develop depression after a state of trauma, either from an accident. This situation later develops into a phobia of travelling or crossing the road.
DR. FRED’S TAKE ON THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES’ STAKE IN DEPRESSION?
The local authorities should be worried about the subject matter. The reason is that they are the watchdog of the community. If proactive measure is not taken about the issue of depression, suicide cases will increase. As a medical doctor, I have witnessed many cases. There was a case of an 18-year-old lady who drank snipper (a chemical liquid content used for fumigation and pest control) because she suspected her boyfriend of cheating. There was another case of a boy who committed suicide because his girlfriend cheated on him. He had to hang himself on a ceiling fan in his apartment.
Most vulnerable cases like those mentioned above are experienced by persons within the age bracket of 16 to 18 years of age. Occurrences like these ones make you wonder how these people are trained and cultured. I think the local authorities should try to sensitise the public more and create room for counselling. There should be an avenue for young people to interact.
Also, the local authorities should play a significant role in educating the younger generation on the importance of patience and building a steady healthy lifestyle.
ANY CURE FOR DEPRESSION?
Depression can be cured. The first thing is to talk to trained professionals. These experts will however look into the possible cause of the depression. Through their findings, they will know the possible solution and how to help out.
In a way, there are some cases that will warrant changing of environment, while some will involve constant counselling. Chronic cases will result in proper medications and others may warrant admission to the hospital for proper follow-ups. The cases are at different levels but there is a cure.
ADVICE TO PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION
Depression is some sort of state you entered into and you can also come out of it. The fact that you’re depressed doesn’t mean that you’ll die depressed. You can come out of it.
For you to come out of it, another party (person) will have to play a role, especially if the cause of the depression is someone else (human factor). That is why I advocate that people should cry out.
Once you start feeling depressed, cry out for help. Let society also watch out for some of these symptoms and ensure to reduce the pressure mounting on people, especially the younger generation. This will help them to concentrate and follow due process in life.
If you are depressed, try to talk to trained professionals to help you come out. Be open and express your feelings with the appropriate authority.
THE MILESTONE/ACHIEVEMENT OF FREDICARE HEALTHCARE SERVICES
As part of our service to the public, we also render free medical care to officers of the armed forces like the; Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Navy, Community Vigilante Groups, and others. We have been able to take our mobile Clinic to their doorsteps. This is because we’ve noticed that this personnel are always as busy as the tasks required of them. Many of them don’t have time to go for a medical checkup due to the nature of their duty to the nation. So, what we did was visit them in their various offices or duty posts. We set up our mobile clinic right at their offices or duty posts and attend to their medical needs free of charge. This is our own way of appreciating their efforts and showing care and love.
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For the record, we’ve carried out this movement in Lagos, Asaba, Ughelli, and other places. We have reached out to most of the aforementioned armed forces and paramilitary organisations too. In the course of our selfless services, the former Commissioner of Police and Commander of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Lagos, honoured us with an award. We have also received various meritorious awards from different notable organisations in the course of our selfless Services.