The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced a surgical intervention scheme for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the IDP camps at Bama, Dalori and Banki, all in Borno State. The need for the surgical intervention scheme became obvious during the recent series of medical outreach programmes organized by the NAF in those camps. The surgical intervention scheme covers general surgeries, obstetrics and gynaecology as well as ophthalmology. The first set of surgeries, mostly eye surgeries, being the most prevalent, was performed at the Medical Centre of the NAF’s 105 Composite Group in Maiduguri on 8 July 2017. The scheme, which is the brainchild of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, is to enable the NAF win the 'hearts and minds' of IDPs, who were displaced from their ancestral homes by Boko Haram Terrorists. The NAF’s soft power approach in fighting insurgency, in addition to its military campaign, has impacted greatly on the IDPs and has given them a sense of belonging.
In his remarks, the NAF Chief of Medical Services, Air Vice Marshal Saleh Shinkafi, said the surgical intervention scheme was part of the NAF’s humanitarian service to the IDPs towards providing them with the opportunity to have normal and productive lives again. According to him, about 300 surgical cases were initially outlined for the 7-day programme, which is expected to cover 100 IDPs each from Dalori, Bama and Banki IDP camps. However, there were indications that up to 250 IDPs in Banki alone required surgical interventions and the period of the exercise might be extended to cater for the additional needs.
It would be recalled that the NAF has constantly employed the soft power approach at resolving the crisis in the North East. In this wise, the NAF had organized medical outreach programmes in many IDP camps in the North East, established emergency hospitals in IDP camps, provided surgical interventions to tackle surgery related cases in IDP camps and of late, provided meals to primary school pupils in Dalori and Bama IDP camps. The surgical operations for the IDPs continue in Maiduguri today, 9 July 2017.