Unnecessary bills for non-infectious diseases check at the airport; Please, NO

Murtala Muhammad Int'l airport
Murtala Muhammad Int'l airport
Unnecessary bills for non-infectious diseases check at the airport; Please, NO

Dr Mrs Adeola Adeleke

The House of Representatives has urged the Ministries of Aviation and Health to collaborate with relevant healthcare professionals and organisations to establish and operate high blood pressure and sugar levels check desks at airports and local clinics across the country.

These resolutions were sequel to the amendment and adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Kalejaiye Adeboye Paul when he moved the motion, stating air travel can be physically demanding and stressful for many passengers and these factors, combined with the potential health risks associated with long flights and varying environmental conditions make it essential to prioritise the health of individuals passing through our airports.

It is those that pass through the International Airport in Lagos, that can tell the stress they go through. The stress and discomfort that passengers go through from the time they are dropped off the departure is enough to raise one’s blood pressure.

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When you are lucky to identify a trolley, the trolley is stiff and required so much energy to manipulate the gate. By the time you get to the gate, it requires extra energy to push the trolley up into the departure space. You are then welcomed by the security machine to pass your luggage through.

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These experiences are enough stressors to trigger the BP increase. Entering the airport, you can see uniformed men and women on another side, waiting for you to be directed to a different section for your pieces of luggage to be checked.

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On the right, there are ‘officers’ waiting to check your luggage whether the screening machine indicated any issue or not. If you are lucky to pass through these stages of check, the next stage will be struggling with the heat and hot temperature inside the airport.

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Travellers will start sweating like a pig with too many people inside the check-in/departure hall. The hall is full of both travellers and accompanying people despite efforts to prevent non-travellers from entering. This is followed by early arriving passengers standing in line for more than three (3) hours, waiting for check-in to begin.

Murtala Muhammed International Airport is the only airport in the world without any provision of seats for travellers waiting to check-in. Why should travellers who come from long distances stand on their feet for so long?

The travellers’ lobby which is supposed to be equipped with chairs has been turned into kiosks. Departure has become a place to buy and sell with no priority given to the comfort of people travelling out. Often travellers face challenges with extortion from immigration officers, customs officers, or airport officials with first-time travellers more exposed.

These are potential situation that raises blood pressure. Some travellers have high BP and have some ailments including diabetes. Should that impede their freedom to travel out? The travellers with such issues have their medications and most may even be travelling abroad to have checks on their health.

It is preposterous to present such a bill when major inadequacies are confronting our air airports. How many countries of the world impose pre-travel checks for non-infectious health conditions like BP and diabetes? It is in order to have nurses or health personnel at airports in case of viral infection checks like we had during Covid 19 but not for non-infectious diseases.

Let us get our airport to a respectable level. The airport in Lagos needs to be the focus. Most airports in the world are the first selling point in terms of tourism. There are smaller countries all over the world including the Caribbeans that have beautiful and functional airports. Ours is a disgrace. Coming into Nigeria is another kettle of fish.

The conveyor belt leading into Immigration is not functional often. Then the incoming travellers are ushered to meet Immigration officials in a disorderly manner in a very tight hall that is very hot without an effective air conditioner.

Thereafter, incoming travellers are stuck for hours to collect luggage from broken conveyor belts. If the traveller is lucky to have all luggage in an unbroken piece, he is confronted by customs doing their legitimate checks except they may be asking what the traveller brought for them.

Finally, the traveller is faced with the crowd lining up to the car park some 2 km away adding stress to the whole journey experience. I write as a frequent traveller. Can you allow travellers to look after their health, please? #No, to the motion.

Adeleke writes from Abuja.


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