Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and other stakeholders, have fingered insecurity and lack of funding as responsible for the ineffective operations of Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs), in parts of North Central.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in separate interviews on Sunday, stressed that most of the PHCs were not functional, and the few functional ones lacked the capacity to provide essential healthcare services because of lack of funding.
Mr Steve Aluko, of the Civil Liberties Organisation, told NAN in Jos, 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 lack of funding, non-implementation of policies, dearth of personnel and lack of political will on the part of government.
“Most of the PHCs in Plateau lack the capacity to 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 health care indices and citizens of other countries were coming to seek health care 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, prompt release of funds, 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 in spite of the efforts of some local government authorities to influence the deployment National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) doctors and nurses to the PHCs.
He also appealed to government, especially the local government area (LGA) 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 opened, 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, stakeholders who spoke with NAN said PHCs were nonfunctional 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 were 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.
However, Miss Veronica Oche, a nurse in one of the private clinics in Makurdi, said that one of the major challenges of PHCs in the state was inadequate drug supply and other major nonmedical consumables.
Oche said that epileptic power supply, as well as dearth of personnel, was some of the challenges hampering operations of the PHCs.
Mr Theophilus Anhwange, a Makurdi resident, on his part suggested that the PHCs could be revived by equipping them with simple essential drugs and personnel, as well as basic facilities.