nma/ doctor/ kidnapping rural healthcare divide
Rural areas often face a lack of essential healthcare services.
Insecurity, Funding Barriers to Effective PHC Operation – CSOs

Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders have fingered insecurity and lack of funding as responsible for the ineffective operations of Primary Health Care Centres in parts of the North Central.

Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews on Sunday, stressed that most of the PHCs were not functional, and the few functional ones could not provide essential healthcare services because of lack of funding.

A member of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Mr. Steve Aluko, told NAN in Jos, Plateau State capital, that most PHCs in the state were under lock and key, while those operating were either without the essential facilities or had inadequate manpower to operate optimally.

Aluko said this was due to a lack of funding, non-implementation of policies, dearth of personnel, and lack of political will on the part of the government.

“Most of the PHCs in Plateau cannot provide essential healthcare services, including inadequate equipment, poor infrastructure, and lack of essential drugs,’’ he said.

According to him, when the PHCs were established in the 1980s by the then Minister of Health, Prof. Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, the centres helped in the promotion of immunisation programmes and preventive healthcare.

He said this led to a rise in Nigeria’s healthcare indices and citizens of other countries were coming to seek healthcare services in Nigeria.

He said the PHCs over time, however, began to witness a downturn in the giant strides achieved and had continued to nosedive since then.

Aluko called on governments at all levels to prioritise the PHCs through the provision of adequate funding, the prompt release of funds, the implementation of policies, and the recruitment of adequate manpower to man the centres.

Similarly, Gad Shamaki, of the CLEEN Foundation, an NGO, also said most of the PHCs were not in operation, especially in the rural areas.

Shamaki said this was despite the efforts of some local government authorities to influence the deployment of National Youth Service Corps doctors and nurses to the PHCs.

He also appealed to the government, especially the Local Government Area chairmen, to revive the PHCs by providing at least essential drugs and partnering with the NYSC for the deployment of personnel.

A resident of Apata in Jos North LGA, Mrs Ngozi Obi, said the PHC in her community was not operational, but Mrs Simi Chollom, a resident of Bukuru Lowcost in Jos metropolis, said the PHC in her community was always open, but essential drugs were always out of stock.

However, a resident of JMDB layout, Mr James Paul, said the PHC in his community was operational and often conducted some tests such as blood culture.

Meanwhile, in Benue State, stakeholders who spoke with NAN said PHCs were non-functional because of the raging insecurity in the rural communities.

A retired Community Health Worker, Mr. Mbaiorga Kunde, told NAN that each of the council wards had at least one PHC facility, but the constant farmers and herders clashes had rendered them ineffective.

Kunde said people no longer patronised them and the personnel was not safe to go to work there.

“For instance, five council wards in Kwande LGA have been deserted for the past eight to ten years and no one dares to go there for any business or activity.

“It is not only Kwande LGA that is affected or facing the challenge, but most of them are bedevilled by one form of crisis or the other, and this is hampering the smooth operations of the PHCs,” he said.