Promoting Good Governance.

Nearly half of primary health centres in Abuja operate in darkness, study finds

A NEW study has revealed that 43 per cent of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) surveyed in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, operate in darkness because they are not connected to the national electricity grid and many of those connected to it described the power supply as highly unreliable.

Titled “Improving Access to Clean Reliable Energy for Primary Health Care Centres in Nigeria: Situation Analysis of PHCs in the Federal Capital Territory”, the study was conducted by Dynamone Consult and Good Governance Initiative with funding from the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBS).

The study, a copy of which was obtained by The ICIR, explored the condition of healthcare centres in Nigeria, using 60 PHCs in the FCT as a case study. It found the centres to be “characterised  by infrastructural decay, loss of health inventory, unavailable medical equipment, poor staffing and working conditions.”

The study pointed out that “in most PHCs, vaccines are either unavailable or cannot be properly stored.

“Lack of clean potable water is another major challenge. Medical staffs are forced to source water from local vendors without knowing the source or quality of such water.

“Where boreholes exist, many are either broken down or are not powered. In addition, several PHCs are unable to render services beyond 5 p.m. due to lack of power to provide illumination at night. Medical personnel therefore rely on rechargeable  lamps, kerosene lanterns, or petrol powered generators for night emergencies.”

The deplorable conditions of the centres, the report observed, have continued in spite of the hundreds of millions of annual budget for the construction and rehabilitation of PHCs.

One of the twelve recommendations in the report is to increase financial allocation to the health sector, with special attention to PHC development, as well as accountability in the management of resources.

It also suggested for the provision of basic infrastructure, such as steady water supply at the health centres. “Existing security gaps should be plugged and infrastructure improved before installing new equipment and solar power systems, otherwise efforts made to improve health facilities and health service delivery will be futile,” the report added.

The study also suggested that the FCT Primary Health Care Development Bill should be enacted into law  to make the federal capital eligible to access the one per cent Consolidated Fund for Basic Health established under the National Health Act of 2014.

It recommended for the immediate metering of health centres by the electricity distribution companies, deployment of renewable energy systems to underserved or unserved areas, and the training of medical staff on the proper maintenance of solar systems.

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