A Matron and the Head of the Primary Health Care (PHC) in Gishiri community in Abuja, Laitu Monday Dauda, has decried the deplorable state of the health facility as she claimed that the government has failed in its responsibilities to provide PHCs with essential equipment.
The Gishiri health facility is a level II primary health care centre under the Gwarimpa District of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), one of the six area councils in the Nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The three-room facility was launched in 2017 as proposed and facilitated by a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, Promise Iroabuchi Nwanneka, who was serving in Maitama District Hospital at the time.
Iroabuchi had written a proposal to the FCT chapter of the NYSC to seek permission on her mission to deliver a health post project to the Gishiri community after meeting with the community leaders to discuss their basic needs.
Following the approval which was granted by the NYSC, she went ahead to seek funds and ensured the project was delivered and commissioned to serve the purpose of meeting the dire medical needs of the community.
Five years after they began operation at the health centre, the condition of the facility has deteriorated with the lack of essential apparatus needed for it to operate as a level II PHC, The ICIR observed.
The matron, Monday told The ICIR that the government had promised they would demolish the building and erect a standard structure.
She, however, lamented unfulfilled promises repeatedly made by the government as well as the lackadaisical attitude towards a sustainable primary health care system.
“As you can see me, I don’t have an office. This is a reception. We are all staying here, which is not right. There are some communicable diseases that will pass me before they go in, which means that my life is even at risk,” Monday explained.
Monday, who was transferred to the centre after it was opened in 2017, explained that they offer all kinds of treatment except for surgeries.
“They (government) don’t equip the PHC but they have a budget for PHCs”, Monday claimed as she said patients have to pay for treatment and drugs because the government doesn’t supply drugs or equipment to the PHC.
According to her, they are lacking beds, water, blood pressure scale, among others.
She said they don’t have where to store the vaccines used for immunisation, noting that they go to the Mabushi health centre to get the vaccines and return them to store in the fridge donated to the centre by a Non-Governmental Organisation.
“We don’t have an adult weighing scale. The one I bought, we have overused it, it’s no more working. I bought the tables myself. It’s only NGOs that gave us this (pointing at the Veronica bucket) and the dustbin during corona.”
“We don’t have good drip stands. You can see the clothes I bought myself to do the curtain; you can see the door. The watch, I bought it. It’s only posters they (government) brought for me to paster everywhere,” she said.
When asked about the efforts made to get funds from the government, she said, “every two months, officials come here to ask the same questions. I have even said I would not answer again because I am tired of talking. It is not how much you have tried, it’s how well they are responding.”
While she expressed displeasure over the government’s failure to respond to their demands, she explained that Non-governmental organisations are more responsive than the government as PHCs benefit more from them.
“When you tell me you are from an NGO, I will welcome you very well. But when you tell me you are from the government, I will just look at you because I am tired,” she stated.
Gishiri PHC has only two permanent staff including the Matron, while there are volunteers who make themselves available to attend to patients.
She explained that the volunteers are from the government N-Power programme, however, it’s barely sufficient as for instance on Thursdays dedicated to pregnant women the facility is filled to the brim, and there is barely any room to stand or time to move about.
“You see why Primary Health Care staff are dying every day,” The Matron said as she expressed concern over the safety of health providers.
She further called on NGOs that are facilitating health projects to come to their rescue and help improve the condition of the health centre for better medical service delivery.
What the authorities had to say…
After weeks of making efforts to get the government’s reaction, the Head of the Health Department, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), a doctor, Adeyinke Modupe, told The ICIR that there were plans to address the issues raised.
In a telephone conversation with this reporter, Modupe explained that Gishiri PHC was not the only healthcare centre that needed rehabilitation, noting that proposals have been put forward to the Council for approval.
According to her, new administration just came on board, which was why there is a delay in implementing necessary measures to improve the standards of concerned primary healthcare centres.
She added that as soon as the proposals submitted to the Council gets approved, they would swing into action.