A philanthropist, Mr

Olatunji made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a free malaria test and drugs outreach, tagged ``Health is Wealth’’ at Solomon Hall, Mushin, Lagos on Saturday.

Olatunji, who sponsored the programme said that such dividends of democracy were exemplified by the government of the then Western Region led by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo.

``When I was growing up, I was one of the beneficiaries of the free health programme and education sponsored by the then old WesternRegion Government.

``Everybody enjoyed this programme without exemption, there was no discrimination at all, you don’t have to know anybody before you enjoy it and it was free.

``Free health programme is a masses-oriented programme which is direct and produces the best return for the government, most importantly when we know that health is wealth.

``I want to follow in this footstep to give to my people programmes that will directly affect their lives not white elephant projects,’’he said.

Olatunji said that he chose malaria treatment because it was still endemic in the society.

``I chose malaria treatment for my philanthropic programme because the sickness is still endemic in the society; according to the figure that I was given, 75 out of 100 people in our society have traces of malaria.

``Malaria is still a problem to our society so we need to tackle it frontally and we can see the result in the turnout of people for thisfree health programme.

``We have said that by God’s grace, the programme will accommodate everybody, drugs are provided free for everybody regardless of age, sex or status.

``This is what the government should be about providing people with direct programmes that will impact their lives,’’ he said.

NAN reports that about 400 people benefited from the programme.

Anti-malaria drugs, Vitamin B Complex, Ferrous Sulphate and other drugs were also dispensed.

The beneficiaries, mostly the elderly lauded the initiative with a 56-year-old self-employed, Mr Ahmed Oludengun, saying he was glad tohave benefited, adding that such should be continuous.

``This is a well thought initiative from the organisers because I have lost count of how many times I have been down with malaria this year.

``I will like government to support initiatives like this to make it continuous and not periodical, if it is made a regular exercise manywill not have to spend on malaria treatment.

``I commend the organisers for their efforts,’’ he said.

Omolayo Rasheed, a student of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, said she equally came out to enjoy from the programme because she had been diagnosed of malaria from school.

``I was diagonised of malaria before leaving my school, so, when I was informed about this I felt it is an opportunity for me to get treatment.

``The programme should not be for the elderly alone, the younger ones are also affected by malaria,’’ she said.