THE Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has decried the state of schools and primary health centres (PHCs) in communities in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At a stakeholders’ engagement held today in Abuja, a monitoring team set up by PPDC revealed that many government-owned primary and secondary schools in the FCT were in deplorable conditions, and mostly had no access to electricity.
Many others, the team said, also lacked toilet facilities and adequate access to potable water.
A member of the monitoring team, Estelle Manga, who tracked a PHC and a school in the Dutse-Alhaji area of the city, shared her observations at the event.
“The roofing system is so bad that when it’s raining outside, the rain finds its way into the hospital. Some patients do not have hospital beds or mosquito nets. The lab doesn’t look like a lab. It’s just like a small cubicle being managed as a lab. They also don’t have electricity or water,” Manga said.
She added that it was a similar story at the Junior Secondary School within the area.
“The school, with a capacity of almost 2000 students, had just one functioning toilet. The level of open defecation there is on the high side,” she said.
Manga said there was not enough furniture in the school, and textbooks provided were outdated.
Another member of the team, Rose Ashinze, who visited a school and PHC in Bwari, also shared her findings.
“The health centre was appalling. Only the matron is trained. And even she has not been retrained in years,” she noted.
Tina Ego, who visited a school in Durumi and a PHC in Dei-Dei, informed that there were no drugs in the health centre and only one toilet served the patients.
“PHCs in Abuja are being ignored. The one in the PHC in Dei-Dei has just two wards: a female and male ward. People are discouraged from going there because if about 10 people fall ill, there are not enough beds for them,” Ego said.
Some community members present at the event corroborated the accounts of the monitoring team.
The traditional ruler of Lugbe, Abuja, Danlami Cheta, said there was just one PHC for the whole of Lugbe, and there was a paucity of equipment in the health centre.
“The staff there are trying their best, but the challenge we have is that some equipment they need have not been provided,” Cheta said.
He mentioned that the PHC could not serve the large population that reside in Lugbe and called for a general hospital or another health care centre in the area.
The Partnership Coordinator, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Innocentia Aniodo, communicated the Board’s support for the PPDC and promised the challenges would be addressed.
“We’ll take note of all that has been said. I’m going to relate with my Executive Secretary; we’ll see a way to come in for the betterment of the community,” Aniodo said.
The Director, Physical Planning and Project Monitoring at the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Mohammed Sule, said the Commission was overseeing over a thousand schools and a scarcity of funds was a major challenge.
“We have shortfalls in terms of financing most of these projects that have overwhelmed us. In the FCT as at today, we have over 600 primary schools and 500 junior secondary schools. If you can see the amount of funds budgeted for it, it will not cater for the responsibility that is shouldered by the organisation,” Sule said.
The FCT Secretary of Health was represented by Matthew Ashikedi, who also cited a shortage of funds as a major challenge while acknowledging that health centres in the city were in dire need of attention.
“Some of the issues are cross-cutting, whether you are taking about education, health or water. We have a responsibility as the government to provide some of these services to our people.
“We have more volunteers than permanent staff in our health facilities. We are not happy about it. There are a lot of strategies in place to ensure that primary healthcare is strengthened.
“The primary health centre is the responsibility of the local government and you know the funding to the local government is very limited.
“But the Secretary of Health has taken it upon himself to ensure that the Primary Health Care under one room policy is implemented fully in the FCT,” Ashikedi said.
He noted that with the implementation of the policy, more support would be gotten from the state to ensure the development of PHCs in the city.
Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via firstname.lastname@example.org