Right from the entrance of this facility, you can feel the flurry of activities as people waited to be attended to. On close observation over a ten-minute period, no fewer than twenty persons had come to the facility seeking care at the facility. “It’s sometimes like this,” says Aisha, who has been visiting for the past one year. However, that has done nothing to break her resolve: “I’m here already. I have to wait my turn,” she adds.
This scenario sounds like sweet music to the ears of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) which was established to ensure the sustenance of the primary health care (PHC) agenda. Considering that primary health facilities were established to serve as first point of call for healthcare services at the community level, this influx is much welcomed. With the centres making essential healthcare accessible to individuals and families within a community at an affordable cost. then there should be less referrals to secondary health facilities. But just how much impact have these centres made in the lives of people over the years?
PULSE OF THE COMMUNITIES
Nkeiruka Eneregbu, a resident of Gidanmangoro in FCT is happy with the services accorded her at the community’s PHC facility where she has a file. “They are very professional and friendly with their services. They are orderly and the drugs prescribed are readily available for the various times I have visited it.
Above all, it is very close to me and their charges very affordable,” she claims. Dorcas who resides in Karu is aware of the services provided by the primary health facilities: “I know they provide basic health care for women and children, Immunization, maternity, and family planning. There could be others, but these I am sure of.” Although she has only visited for her child’s immunisation, she is willing to visit again as long as she still lives within close proximity of the centre.
INDIFFERENCE AND TURNOFFS
As would be expected, some people appear not to know what services are rendered in this facility as only a visit to a facility would provide that. Fisayo who resides in Kuje says: “I have one on my street but I’ve not been there before. The environment is a turn off. With the environment, I couldn’t trust them with my health. The structure and environment does not give an impression that I will get good medical attention there”. This response succinctly captures the concerns and worries of many other people who were yet to visit a PHC facility.
IN NEED OF HELP
Medical personnel working within the PHC facilities agree that the facility is to provide immediate access to quality health services such as health emergency at affordable rates for the community residents. Although they were very careful to disclose any major challenges, they attest that they were not provided with enough resources with which to carry out their duties.
A medic who chose to stay anonymous said: “We know what the PHC facility is to provide or the purpose it should serve the community but you need tools to work. We do not have enough manpower, drugs or even equipment to serve our purpose.”
Amidst the satisfaction with medical services provided by the medical personnel at the facilities, clients still decried the deplorable state of the facilities as a gap in the efficiency of PHC in their community. Foluke who lives within the Apo-Dutse area visits the facility there for minor diagnostic tests such as malaria tests and she appreciates the efficiency of the staff members. However, in the same breath, she decries the deplorable state of the facility and says: “I’m only willing to keep going because of the proximity to the house and can only run minor tests there. The environment where the hospital is situated and the hygiene of the place is nothing to write home about. I would not call it a safe place really.”
Solomon who visited the AMAC Clinic Lugbe shares his own misgivings: “The service was fair enough but I would not go back. The facility is understaffed, equipment is outdated and the building is dilapidated.” Same sentiments Eneregbu shares about her Gidanmangoro facility: “The access road to the centre is in a sorry state. The building is dilapidated and needs urgent attention. Some of the furniture are bad, while some of the equipment are obsolete.”
HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY?
While some members of the communities, with knowledge of the services offered by the PHCs are not relenting and maximising the use of these facilities, some are oblivious of their existence or simply indifferent due to the general surrounding environmental conditions. With some recording poor traction due to some teething challenges, others are stretched to their limits due to heavy patronage by the community members.