An investigative report by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) uncovered that inadequate human resources and a rising deficiency of health workers are crippling PHCs in Ogun, Anambra, Nasarawa, and other states of the federation.
During an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja, Nigerians who had been directly affected by the unavailability of nurses and midwives at PHCs across the country ventilated their frustration.
Narrating the state of affairs at PHCs, Journalist with the ICIR, Marcus Fatunmole, revealed that most health facilities in the rural areas are not functional and lack midwives. Additionally, PHCs are facing inadequate staff, poor welfare packages, dilapidated structures, and a general loss of public confidence.
Fatunmole said, “In Nasarawa state, all the 17 PHCs visited, there were no nurses, there were only eight midwives, and out of them maybe four were contracted, meaning that the government was not paying them, so they’re collecting N5,000, or N10,000 monthly.
“in Anambra, between January and June this year, 20 women lost their lives during childbirth. This is mainly because patients come to the facilities they don’t meet the workers. The health workers don’t stay in those communities. They prefer living in the cities.
“When you are coming to PHCs in Nasarawa state, you will have to inform the gate man, who will be calling the nurse on duty to come and attend to a patient, and in the about 20 PHCs we visited, there were only seven births within six months, how could that happen in the 21st century in a state,” He questioned.
According to Fatunmole, poor service delivery at PHCs across the country is making rural dwellers resort to traditional means and increasing the tendency for health workers to extort money from helpless citizens who are at their mercy.
He hailed the impact of Basic Health Care funding on some PHCs while calling on state governments to recruit health workers permanently other than relying on part-time staff or volunteers from communities.
On his part, Programme Officer at International Budget Partnership, Olaniyi Olaleye, while calling on states to increase the remuneration of nurses, midwives, and others working at primary healthcare centers, blamed the woes of PHCs on the failure of past and present governments to prioritize healthcare, noting that the Nigerian budget over the last six years has not met the Abuja declaration which African countries committed to allocating at least 15% of their budget to the health care.
His words: “Government has not been performing its responsibility. Some states have not contributed their fund to that purse, and Primary Healthcare Centers are being neglected. The people go to secondary or tertiary institutions, putting pressure on the tertiary or secondary health centers.
“Medical personnel are leaving the country because the government is not doing what it is supposed to do regarding remuneration.
“Most people have given up on our PHCs because there has been a trend of government failure to address the needs of the people. So what the government needs to do is to build that trust back,” Olaleye advised.
Earlier, some Nigerians called into the radio programme and narrated their ugly ordeal at different PHCs across the country.
Chairman Pegi Community Development Association (PECDA), in Kuje, Abuja, Taiwo Aderibigbe, who called into the radio programme, claimed that only two nurses could attend to people at the community’s health facility. “In Pegi resettlement, the situation is not different. There are two nurses, no midwife, and no volunteer. Presently, I’m at a facility currently, and just 1 staff is attending to over 30 mothers,” He lamented.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.