In Osisioma Ngwa LGA, Abia state, a community with over 20,000 residents, only one primary healthcare centre caters to their needs.
What’s worse, the hospital is in a terrible state even after N80m was budgeted for it within the last three years. The state’s slogan is God’s Own State, and perhaps the government is waiting on God to do the job for them.
In 2019, Nigeria had the highest under-five child mortality rate globally, with 117 child deaths from 1000 children. These numbers are not whipped out of thin air. They are real-life occurrences, children and women dying from avoidable causes. Providing quality healthcare at the community level through primary health centres (PHC) is key to reducing these figures.
Nigeria has 28,276 public PHCs across 774 LGAs created to serve residents. But are they?
“Since this health centre was built in 2020, we have only delivered one baby. The women who come for antenatal care refuse to come again when they see the state of the building. So we have to go door to door to beg them to come.” said a staff at the hospital.
Today, women are encouraged to stop visiting Traditional Birth Attendants or self-medicate and opt for modern healthcare instead, but the ‘modern’ healthcare facilities are in worse condition, which takes us 100 steps backward.
Ebube, a pregnant woman and resident of the community, narrated her experience to Tracka.
“The entire building leaks like a basket. I went for an antenatal appointment with my husband last week. When we got there, and he saw the place, he told me we wouldn’t go back again because he is afraid the building will collapse at any time. The nurse said, God forbid; it won’t happen.”
Another staff highlighted insecurity as one of the major reasons why they can’t provide quality healthcare. “Nobody sleeps here, and this work needs somebody to live here. We resume in the morning and close by 4 pm because there is no security. If people get sick at night or pregnant women want to deliver, we can’t do anything.”
The essence of a functioning PHC is to be the first point of contact for citizens who have any health issues. The proximity allows for a closer and more trusted relationship with the health workers. It is easier to catch diseases early and either nip them in the bud or refer them to a second-tier medical facility for proper treatment.
When citizens do not have access to quality primary healthcare, it pushes them away from seeking medical care for illnesses. Instead, they resort to traditional or alternative forms of treatment which are unregulated and cause more damage.
Monitoring and evaluation is a key government function to ensure quality service delivery in the implementation of projects. When the government fails to do this, it positions itself as a willing party to fraud and embezzlement.
In the records, funds have been budgeted for the construction of this same cottage hospital thrice. In the 2018 budget, N40m was budgeted to it. In the 2019 and 2020 budgets, N30m and N10m, respectively. Still, they don’t have a delivery bed.
|YEAR||CODE||PROJECT TITLE||AGENCY||MINISTRY||AMOUNT (=N=)|
|2018||2018ZIP886||CONSTRUCTION OF A COTTAGE HOSPITAL IN OSISIOMA NGWA LGA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY OF ABIA STATE||PRODA||SCIENCE & TECH||40,000,000|
|2019||2019ZIP1029||CONSTRUCTION OF A COTTAGE HOSPITAL AT AMAVO, OSISIOMA NGWA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ABIA STATE.||PRODA, ENUGU||SCIENCE & TECH||30,000,000|
|2020||2020ZIP1059||HEALTH CENTRE IN OSISIOMA L.G.A OSISIOMA
/UGWUNAGBO/OBINGWA FED. CONSTITUENCY, ABIA STATE
|PRODA||SCIENCE & TECH||10,000,000|
“We don’t have any equipment except the ones that Basic Healthcare provided for us. They gave us chairs, tables, two beds, and a solar fridge. We don’t even have a delivery bed.
We even tried to do some of the repairs, but the money is too much. When the carpenter climbed the roof and saw what was there, he advised us to steer clear that the job could cost a million to reproof it. Who has that kind of money?” said the hospital staff.
We also spoke with the community leader, Chief Jacob Nwafor, who complained about the centre being the last hope of healthcare for residents.
“Some people came to the place recently and said what the government is supposed to build there isn’t what they built. This is the only health centre in Osisioma. So the government should please repair and supply the centre with the necessary equipment so that it can work well for us,” Chief Jacob said.
We have sent a letter to PRODA and the Ministry of Health Abia state to provide us with information on how the allocated funds were spent.
We also urge the Abia state government to ensure the hospital is repaired and adequately equipped. In the 2021 approved budget, Abia state has the highest allocation of Zonal Intervention Projects amongst the 36 states in Nigeria. We are left to wonder how the state and federal representatives will ensure this allocation reflects in the lives of the citizens, or will it remain a case of ‘audio money’?
Story by Ayomide Ladipo & Tochukwu Nwodo.
This story is published under Tracka’s #FixOurPHCs series. The series highlights how the state of health facilities in communities affects citizens’ quality of life.