Linus Oota, Lafia
Primary Health Care Centres in Nasarawa State are in ruins. Most of the facilities are ill-equipped while majority are inadequately staffed.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had in September 2017 donated $500,000 (about N200 million) to Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NSPHCDA), for the upgrade of primary health care facilities.
However, most residents especially at the rural areas have continued to besiege the state owned Dalhatu Araf Specialists Hospital, Lafia, to access medical attention even for minor illnesses that would have been taken care of by the primary health care facilities due to lack of drugs and non availability of personnel at the PHCs.
It was gathered that with the state of affairs of PHCs, it is alleged the donation from Bill and Melvindale Gate might have been mismanaged. It was also gathered that about 83 children have died of acute malnutrition from 2017 to date with little or no visible efforts by government through NSPHCDA towards addressing the trend.
Barely two years after such huge amount was sunk into the PHCs, they appear smacks of neglect and are in shambles. In 2017, the CS-SUNN, an NGO, reported that 33 children died of acute malnutrition in Nasarawa. In 2018, a nutrition officer in NSPHCDA confirmed the death of 30 children over acute malnutrition and 20 died so far in 2019 due to none availability of food supplements to manage malnourished children at the15 centres designated to take care of children suffering from the condition across the state.
Chairman of NSPHCDA, Dr Adis Mohammed, refused to disclose how much the state invested so far in the primary health care sector in the last three years given the rising death of children and maternal mortality.
Our correspondent who visited some of the PHCs gathered that apart from inadequate manpower, most buildings housing such centres are in state of disrepair. The roofs caved in during rainstorm while ceilings and windows are in dire need of attention to prevent them from falling.
A visit to Kayarda and Duduguru PHCs in Obi LG, revealed that the unkempt environment surrounding the centres subjected it to invasion by rodents and insects, also workers and patients usually defecate in a nearby bush as there was no functional toilet facility.
A worker who pleaded anonymity said the facility did not get supply of medical aids, including drugs from the local or state government as they buy drugs from pharmacies.
The residents who spoke to our correspondent cried out over the deplorable state of PHCs, noting that it was sad that the PHCs had been left to deteriorate.
When contacted, Mohammed declined comment and rather referred our correspondent to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning. The Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Alidzi Maman, said government released substantial funds to NSPHCDA to put the PHCs in good condition to enable residents access quality health services.
He expressed surprise over the high number of children that died due to non availability of Ready to use Food and other supplements to manage severe acute malnutrition.