The lack of quality healthcare and consequent avoidable death rates in the country has caught the attention of Nigerian-born, USA-based doctor.
Dr Joseph Tarkon who is the presiding pastor of the City of David Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), in Atlanta, Georgia, USA is set to bring relief to thousands of rural dwellers in Yakurr community in Cross River State in December.
The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)-trained doctor is embarking on a medical outreach set for December 14 and 15 where at least 2,000 members of Ugep community of Cross River State will receive free medical interventions at no cost to them.
Tarkon, a native of Ikom, also in Cross River, who left Nigeria for the U.S. some decades ago, has been unhappy with the socio-economic conditions in Nigeria, especially as it affects access to healthcare for poor folks.
For six years, he has run a weekly health education show called Vital Health on radio, which aired on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Planet FM, Hit FM and Inspiration FM to assist Nigerians with basic knowledge and guidance on health-related issues. Also a televangelist, Tarkon currently runs a weekly Christian program on TVC Nigeria. It is however under the auspices of Vital Health International, which is a nonprofit he founded, that he will be supporting a medical outreach in Ugep.
The medical outreach will be one of the weeklong events to be held in Ugep, the largest village in West Africa. Other events lined up between December 13 and 16 include leadership masterclass for Christian ministers and young people, crusade which will be graced by top gospel artistes including Atuonwu Buchi, Omini Praise and Rev. Ethel Arikpo Odungide amongst others.
Why the medical outreach? Dr Tarkon explains. “I come from Cross River, so I am familiar with some of the socio-economic issues there. There are three things we want to accomplish. Number one, we will be doing leadership training. One of the issues I found across Africa. In fact that is the greatest problem we have in Africa and Nigeria. And that is leadership development. So, we are doing leadership training. There are two components to that. We will be training Christian leaders about the fundamentals and discipline of the Christian Faith. Then we will be training young people on the fundamentals of leadership. How do you start a business? How do you run a business? What do you do? And how to develop for those of them who have aspirations to become political leaders. It is going to be short. It is one day for leadership development, that’s Wednesday December 13.
“Then on Thursday (December 14) morning through evening and on Friday morning, there will be a medical mission component, and we will be addressing medical issues. We are working in collaboration with the General Hospital in Ugep. I have been there. I have spoken to doctors. I have some doctors who are coming with me from the U.S. We will be seeing patients with routine medical issues. We will also do minor surgeries. You know for the layman, every surgery is not minor. Hernia, appendix, and some simple masses here and there, abscess incision and all that.
“On Friday evening and Saturday evening, we are having evangelistic outreach where we will be preaching the word of God, praying for the sick, and providing good music. Gospel artistes are going to be coming and local ministers will also be there.”
Dr Tarkon said about his expectation for the medical outreach. “My hope is that with a community like Ugep, and with the number of doctors we have, we may be seeing about 1,000 people a day. So if we see 2,000 people during those two days that will be great.”
On why he is giving back to the community and his country, he explained that he grew up in a missionary community in Cameroon and saw how they (missionaries) saved lives. He added that he was born a twin and but for the intervention of the missionary who stopped the killing of twins, he wouldn’t be alive today.
Dr. Tarkon is a Public Health Physician, a certified Global Health Professional, and a Health Education specialist with a strong passion for improving the health of individuals and communities.
He is the CEO of Redeemer’s Medical Center (RMC), a not-for-profit community clinic that offers medical services to poor residents of Georgia, USA. He hosts Insight For Life, a gospel program viewed globally on DSTV, StarSat, Sky UK, GOtv, StarTimes, and Free TV. He is on the board of directors of Africa Missions, North America (AMNA), a faith-based organization actively involved in designing and implementing community development projects and capacity building globally.
He is the Chief Executive of Vital Health International, an evidence-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with a vision to protect, promote and restore people’s health. Until recently, he hosted the acclaimed Vital Health with Dr. Joe Tarkon Talk show, a Medical Health Education program aimed at improving health behavior, health outcomes, and the quality of life of listeners in the various states of Nigeria, where it aired on radio weekly and has reached over 62 million people in Nigeria and abroad.
In recognition of his leadership and services to the community, he was one of two thousand leaders invited in 2005 by President George W. Bush for the first US Faith-Based and Community Initiative (FBCI) National Conference.
He is an Assistant Regional Pastor, Pastor in Charge of the Province, and the Senior Pastor of RCCG, City of David, Atlanta.