By Elijah Akoji
I keep asking myself certain questions after an investigative work in a part of the nation, where i was trying to see how primary health cares are been taken care of. It was not meant to bring any one to accountability or indict any one for refusing to use the funds meant for maintaining the primary health care, rather it is an act which tries to expose the fact that our primary health care is in a sorry state in dear need of rescue.
In an era where health is suppose to be given a priority and attention, the health sector in this part of the world is been relegated with just few attention on it, this has led to the death of so many due to lack of the basic amenities needed to attend to a patient condition and the financial incapacitation of the patient to meet the demand of private hospital bill or even transportation to such hospital.
Nigeria primary health care has been given less attention as money meant for provision of drugs and other relieve materials for patient and pregnant women are not used for such purpose, even most of the physical building care the health centre is in a sorry state.
In my visit to some of the health facilities under my investigation, my eyes could not believe some of the things I saw in the health care centres, no bed for patient to lie on both in the male and female wards, poor toilet as some even uses pit toilet in this time and dispensation, poor supply of drugs from the MDAs and lack of water in almost all the primary health care centers i visited and in some places a dilapidated structure and forgotten project under construction.
In my interview with the district heads in some of the villages i visited where this health facilities are located, they expressed their disappointment at the poor level of attention given to the heath centers by the government, some explained that some of their women deliver at home because even if they go to the health post, there will be no one to attend to them, and in the process they have lost their love ones.
Poor human resource management practices, mainly irregular salaries and poor funding, have consequently impact on the healthcare service delivery. Also some of the officers in-charge of the health care centres expressed their displeasure at the way the health care centres are been managed by the government. In a particular health post it was explained that the people of that community contribute their own resources to run and maintain the health care centres.
Universal Health Coverage is a powerful equalizer that ensures health care for all, enhances health security, reduces poverty and promotes gender equality; Nigeria has some of the best legal provisions on health but lacks the will for full implementation. “The National Health Act 2014 provides a framework for the regulation, development and management of our national health system and sets standards for delivering health services in Nigeria. Some of the benefits of the Act include the provision of free basic health services for children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with disabilities irrespective of who or where they are.”
Nigeria is yet to find a final solution to most of the health challenges in the country, like the frequent outbreaks of Lassa fever, high maternal and child deaths, poor primary health facilities, poor health emergency responses and many others. This is happening because the Nigerian governments across all arms and tiers do not place priority on the provision of basic health care as claimed,”urging government at all levels to prioritize their spending to ensure access to basic health care to all.
Everyday, people die in our different primary health care centres for simple lack of drugs required to subdue pain, not to talk of availability of an ambulance in the case of an emergency. Primary health care centres are established to bring good medical care to the people of a particular community, this seems to be functioning elsewhere in other countries, but in the case of Nigeria, it is a forgotten priority with no attention from the government.
When priorities are not well set by the leaders failure is what we get at the detriment of the poor masses. Health in any country must be the first and primary priority of any nation a well planned and functioning system places more emphasis and resources in her health sector, because it is sacred to protect life.
The sorry state of our primary health care centres has forced many people to use an alternative method, which is the traditional herbs, this is considered to be effective but has cost many their lives, until the government and well meaning Nigerians who have the resources to assist begin to shoulder responsibility, of helping our health care centres in rural communities, same stories will continue to make the news.
There is a glimmer of hope for the country’s decaying primary health care.
Elijah Akoji is a Public Policy Analyst.