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African Times - Media Shots

Patti Boulaye opens £20,000 HIV/AIDS Clinic - hundreds more planned

Former actress and singer star Patti Boulaye's dream of opening hundreds of one-stop health centres throughout Africa became a reality when the first of the clinics was opened in her home town in Nigeria.

Following two years of planning and fundraising, Patti opened the first one-stop clinic in Okpanam in Delta State last month. The Nigerian-born child star of Bisi Daughter of The River and several West End musical shows plans to open two more clinics in Angola and Rivers State in Nigeria in January next year.

The Opkanam clinic will provide primary healthcare, counselling, dietary advice, and awareness information about HIV/AIDS, which will focus on the prevention of mother to child transmissions. The impressive £20,000 clinic contains a waiting room, a pharmacy, four toilets and two treatment rooms. Rev. Dr Emmanuel Otteh, the Archbishop of Iseluku Diocese, and Nigerian billionaire Chief Sunny Odogwu opened the clinic on 26 October 2002.

At press conferences held in Lagos and Abuja, Patti said: "I realised that to depend solely on one's government was not the answer. HIV/AIDS waits for no one. It is the modern day plague without the cure, but with treatment that only the wealthy can afford."

She added: "It is estimated that 29 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and only 30,000 people are being treated. In Africa over 6,000 people are dying of AIDS everyday and that includes children." Patti said she was moved to help AIDS sufferers in 1999 when she visited an orphanage in Abuja.

To raise funds, Patti presented and organised a sell-out musical extravaganza called "Reaching Out For Africa" in March 2002. It included performances from Sir Cliff Richard, Gabrielle, and over 3,000 gospel singers. As part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Creative Team, Patti got together with a 5,000-strong gospel choir for the 4 June Jubilee procession in front of the Queen. On the 14th of June 2002, singer Michael Jackson gave a day in support of Patti's Charity during his visit to London.

Speaking about the launch of the first clinic last month, Patti said: "It was fantastic. We are still glowing from it. We are trying to build clinics in remote places which are far from hospitals. These clinics are far off the beaten track and are for the forgotten people." She said that to ensure that the clinic is run properly it will be managed by nuns from a nearby convent.

She said that clinics will focus on preventing mother to baby transmissions because there have been many cases of mothers killing their babies on realising that they are infected. "In the cities, people understand. But in the rural areas people abandon their babies thinking they are possessed," said Patti.

Story by Emenike Po


Extracts copyright of African Times Newspaper
Issue No. 61 :: 08 Nov, 2002