A sizable number of primary health centres across the various local governments in the country face extinction due to the failure of government at the grassroots to recruit nurses.
Findings by Naijacrawl confirmed that many of the health centres in rural communities are no longer functioning as there are no trained personnel to man them.
In some places, the health centres, with some arrangements of the local government and community leaders, are being manned by the so-called auxiliary nurses or nurses employed as casual staff, who are only doing the little they could to make less quality health care available to the people.
Our correspondent confirmed that the problem is highly prevalent in many rural communities.
This is also because the few nurses and community health workers that are available in many local governments are not ready to work in villages where there are no basic amenities. As a result, they seek transfer from remote areas to places where they would have access to good roads, electricity, telecom networks and others.
The condition has turned out to mount pressure on secondary and tertiary health institutions in the country.
It is also the cause of many preventable infant and maternal mortalities, as pregnant women resort to traditional birth attendants.
Madoga is a community in Ifonyintedo Ward, Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State. The sleepy community lies at the boundary between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Some residents of the area share dual citizenship because of their proximity to the neighbouring country, which made it almost impossible to identify the demarcation between the two countries.
As an agrarian settlement, residents of Madoga are primarily farmers and traders, struggling to make ends meet.
When our correspondent visited the village, residents complained of no government presence in their area, except a primary school with dilapidating structures.
“We don’t have any government presence here. Does the government even know we exist? We have been forgotten by those in government. The only thing we have here is that old primary school. Aside from that, there is nothing else,” Bayo Adegbola told our correspondent.
Adegbola regretted that the only primary health care centre in Madoga had been shut down, saying this has exposed residents to various health hazards.
According to locals, pregnant women and people with minor ailments can no longer access primary health care within their immediate environment.
It could be observed that the abandoned clinic is now covered with bush.
The beds and other equipment are out of shape. Ceilings and the roof have fallen off. The wards and other offices have been taken over by bats and rodents.
“It is most unspeakable that this clinic is deteriorating and nobody is doing anything about it. Our pregnant wives travel to another community in Benin Republic whenever they are about to give birth. Is that how it should be? Maybe the government should cede us to the Benin Republic,” a community leader said, pleading anonymity.
Just like Madoga, Obaningbe is another agrarian community under Ipokia Local Government. The community is a few kilometres away from the local government headquarters, but villagers said they have been forsaken by government at all levels.
“We don’t have anything here. No road, no electricity, no water. We only have a primary school. The clinic we used to have is no longer functioning,” a farmer, who identified himself as Jimeto, told our reporter.
According to Jimeto, the clinic, which was built in 2004, was shut down for no just reason, stressing that: “maybe the government can no longer maintain it, we don’t know.”
Our correspondent noted that the building is currently wasting away after it was abandoned by the government when the nurses working there retired.
Aside from the two communities mentioned, it was reliably gathered that many of the PHCs in the rural areas in Yewa, Egba and Ijebu are in shambles.
It could be recalled that the Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Prof Adewale Musa-Olomu, once decried the state of primary health centres in Nigeria, calling for the need to restore them.
Olomu urged the state governments to revitalise the healthcare centres, submitting that many have lost their lives as a result of the decaying health centres.
He attributed the increase in childbirth mortality rate to poor condition of various primary health facilities in different local government areas of the nation.
Naijacrawl recalls that Governor Dapo Abiodun, after his inauguration, promised to renovate or build at least one health care centre in each of the 236 wards of Ogun within his first 100 days in office.
The Governor said he had renovated at least one in each of the 20 local governments, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for his inability to fulfil his earlier promise.
“We have rehabilitated specific Primary Health Centres – PHCs, in each local government to assist in capacity build-up in view of their proximity to the community. We will pre-position PPEs to each of them so they could also serve as first responders,” Abiodun said.
The renovated ones include: Adeun PHC (Abeokuta North LGA), Erunbe HC (Abeokuta South), Sango PHC (Ado-Odo/Ota), Obada HC (Ewekoro), Oyero HC (Ifo), Ogbere PHC (Ijebu East), Ilaporu HC (Ijebu North), Ijari HC (Ijebu Northeast), Isoku HC (Ijebu Ode), Iperu HC (Ikenne), Owode HC (Imeko Afon), Idiroko PHC (Ipokia), Owode HC (Obafemi Owode), Osiele HC (Odeda), Mobalufon HC (Odogbolu), Comprehensive Health Center, Iwopin (Ogun Waterside), Ode PHC (Remo North), Magun HC (Sagamu), Igbogila HC (Yewa North), and Ajilete HC (Yewa South).
Villagers said the reason for the collapse of the health centres was because most of them were abandoned when there were no nurses to attend to patients.
“Those health centres are dying because the government is not recruiting new nurses. Those who were recruited 35 years ago must retire. But after their retirement, there is no one to step into their positions. That is why primary health centres in rural communities are abandoned.
“Today, The Local Government Service Commission is the one to recruit nurses on behalf of each local government.
“Before now, the local governments themselves used to recruit health attendants and junior staff, but they no longer have the autonomy to do that. That’s where the problem started from,” a former local government administrator told our correspondent.
Our correspondent reports that some incumbent local government Chairmen did not want to speak with our correspondent, claiming that the situation predated their administrations.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker refused to comment on the matter when she was contacted.
However, one of the local government chairmen disclosed that the Local Government Service Commission is currently recruiting nurses, community health workers, health attendants and others.