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Sorry state of PHCs in Niger South

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A ward at Kuchi Kebbao PHC

Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) are meant to serve as the first medical points, where residents can easily access basic healthcare before moving on to appropriate hospitals, where necessary. As such, their service delivery was supposed to be top-notch. Sadly, however, this is not the case in the Niger South Senatorial District, where the PHCs are in a terrible state. The Guardian recent visit to the seven PHCs in the District revealed that these centres are far from the original concept, as they are not only dilapidated, but are also unable to serve their purpose. The story was the same everywhere: poor sanitation, inadequate staffing and paucity of medical equipment. This is in sharp contrast with the minimum standards for the PHCs, as declared in a document issued by National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

Kuchi Kebbao PHC
A first glimpse at this facility would likely make one assume it is an abandoned cottage, until you take a closer look. It comprises a single block that houses five rooms. 

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Shuaibu Adamu, a staff of the centre, said: “In a month, the facility records more than 200 persons that come from over 50 villages.” Unfortunately, however, this population relies on a single Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW).

Adamu, a CHEW, was the only available staff at the facility, when the correspondent visited. Together with some locals who usually treat minor bruises, he attends to the patients.

The Guardian findings revealed the facility’s infrastructural decay and lack of water supply, including the absence of some vital equipment, such as beds, basins and fans.

In all, only four beds were available, while some mattresses were placed on the floor. Three of the beds were in the wards, while the fourth was placed in the labour room.

Basic Health Centre, Muye
THE journey to Muye, an adjoining village between Kogi and Niger states, was quite stressful. There was also the fear of kidnapping, as the route has become rather dangerous in recent times.

However, despite Muye Basic Health Centre’s smart appearance, officials still complained of inadequate medical equipment and drugs, poor staffing, lack of maintenance of some facilities and irregular power supply.

A junior staff at the facility, Adamu Nasir, said while they may have some things in place, they are really not working. “Our toilets are dilapidated, and there’s need for more beds and mattresses,” he said.

Checks by The Guardian confirmed that some facilities were truly in terrible shape. But aside the glaring deficits, the facility’s sanitary condition is considered fair.

The recorded monthly attendance was estimated at 500 patients from over 20 villages. This population could, however, be managed by the current workforce at the facility. According to Nasir, eight health officials are currently managing the centre. 

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Maternal & Child Healthcare, Badegi 
THIS facility is situated in the heart of a small community, Badegi, along Bida-Lambata Road. It is a complex building comprising several rooms, out of which only four are being utilised.

The Medical Officer, Tanimu Yahaya, who discussed with this reporter, lamented the decay of some important amenities. 

“Since the establishment of this healthcare in 2010, there have been no maintenance or renovation work whatsoever. For instance, the water system stopped working eight years ago, making it hard for us to use water at times,” Yahaya said.

And because of the lack of water, the workers and patients have also not been able to use the toilet.

While advocating uninterrupted power supply and provision of drugs in the facility, the medical officer also called for a campaign on immunisation of children, family planning and antenatal care. This, according to him, would shape the locals’ perception of healthcare strategies and benefits.

Findings also revealed the centre’s unclean environment, as the wards, toilets and the labour room were dusty and disorganised. It was, however, surprising that a facility that is used by more than 30 villages is being managed by just nine officials.

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Comprehensive Health Centre, Lapai
THE infrastructural deficiency at this PHC was simply awful, to say the least. Considering the fact that this healthcare centre is located in the headquarters of Lapai local government area, one would expect it to be well equipped and sophisticated. This was, however, not the case. 

And though it is a comprehensive health facility that records over 2000 patients every month, the place does not have water, regular electricity supply and medical equipment. These are some of the major problems confronting the PHC.

Deplorable state of Etsu Yahaya Abubakar PHC, Bida.

Spotlighting the infrastructural deficiency in the facility, one of the medical officers, who craved anonymity, said there are more than 14 toilets, out of which only two were designated for patients’ use. “Others are always under lock and key, to keep them clean,” he stated.

Etsu Yahaya Abubakar PHC, Bida
THE general ambience at this facility was somehow dull. The place was dominated by a heap of refuse, with dirt littering the waterway that leads to the PHC. 

Just like in most of the other PHCs, workers at this centre bemoaned water scarcity and total power outage. The only source of power supply, they said, was the vaccine refrigerator’s solar, which was allegedly stolen from the facility.

Basic Health Centre, Badegi
INDISTINGUISHABLE is the only word that aptly describes the condition of this PHC. Like others, the facility suffers derelict outlook and poor staff strength.

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Tales of irregular power supply and water system were the order of the day. A survey by this reporter confirmed that the toilet was unusable for both the staff and patients.

Sometimes, critical cases are transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Bida, which is about 15 kilometres away, even though there were no ambulances.

Primary Health Care, Mokwa
SINCE it was established in 1978, this health centre has not witnessed renovation of any sort, not even for once. Little wonder its appearance was so awful, with its surroundings littered with refuse.

All other amenities, including labour rooms, are present here, except for wards. A junior staff told The Guardian: “We don’t have wards and that is why we don’t admit patients. Cases that require admission are referred to the general hospital.”

She implored the government to revitalise the centre for a more conducive working environment.

• This work was supported by Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Nigeria.

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