December 19, 2012
When Richard Anyanwu's mother died at 72 from a stroke in 2001, the CHOMP nurse started thinking about health care screenings and preventive medicine well before Obamacare became a buzzword.
The native Nigerian who now lives in Seaside traveled to his hometown, Umueze, where he delivered medications to maybe 100 people. His non-profit, Medical and Humanitarian Aid for Africa, collects unexpired over-the-counter and prescription meds to distribute in Nigeria, where the average life expectancy is 52.
In the decade he's been taking blood pressures, reading blood glucose levels and distributing antibiotics, Anyanwu says he's seen many people who would've otherwise died get the basic diagnoses and drugs they needed to survive.
In the next month, he expects to deliver supplies and provide medical tests to up to 2,000 patients in a string of stops in small towns of rural Nigeria.
"Many towns have invited us to come," Anyanwu says. "This is going to be the biggest event so far."
Four Nigerian MDs, including an ophthalmologist, will join him on the 10th-anniversary trip.
It's still a struggle to find a way to leave behind meds for chronic conditions, Anyanwu says, because of concerns about corruption: Prescription drugs could be a hot black market item, even if left under lock and key and intended only for MAHAFA's patients.
Since 2008, he's been making the trek twice a year to help fill that gap, and he's expanded his route from Umueze to a string of villages. He's registered MAHAFA as a 501(c)(3), and found partners in Nigeria.
Anyanwu leaves Dec. 26 for his three-week trip, and is accepting donations at his Seaside home , 1577 Luxton St., until he takes off. So far, he's planning to pack 14 suitcases with drugs and medical supplies.