Communities in Edo State lack good hospitals and are as such at the mercy of ill-health. Many of the health care centres are in a bad dilapidated shape with many abandoned, writes FRANK IKPEFAN.
For residents of Ojavun, and Uzebba communities in Edo State, a good hospital exists only in the dream.
Apart from the lack of other basic amenities, the absence of an equipped hospital means there is virtually no obvious dividend of democracy in the areas.
The Uzebba health centre is now a habitation for rodents and reptiles; residents say the scare of these wild animals is the beginning of wisdom.
In Edo North, the primary health care centres built with millions remain in ruin, an investigation has revealed.
Many of the health care centres are in a bad dilapidated shape with many abandoned.
Three primary health care centres which ought to alleviate the health crisis in the three communities by providing a basic, affordable and accessible health care are in a state of disrepair.
The development has led to anguish for members of the communities, who often have to go as far as Sabongidda – Ora and Afuze, both in Owan East and West Local Government Areas to access medical care.
The trip is a burden to the less privileged and pregnant women in the communities. Many people have died from travelling long distances for medical care, a member of Ojavun community told our reporter.
Community’s health centre converted to church in Edo
In Uzebba community, a primary healthcare centre (PHC) abandoned by the government has been converted to a church.
The PHC, conceived as a place for diagnosis and treatment of disease has been converted to a worship centre for Christians in the area.
The project, which has been abandoned for ten years, according to residents of the community, now plays host to a fast-growing protestant church despite the absence of a public medical facility in the community.
“This project has been abandoned for the last ten years. Our people don’t have access to any health care facility to use. We go to Sabo before we can have access to medical care.
“Please we need help. If the government can help us complete this facility we will be very happy. At least that will help us and our children, especially our pregnant women during pregnancy. We will not have to go as far as Sabo before we can have access to treatment,” a member of the community, Justice Osagie, said.
Uzebba: Constituency project abandoned, overgrown by weeds
As it is with state government health projects so it is for federal government projects in the same community.
A PHC project in the same community that was captured in 2015 under the Federal Government’s intervention programme (constituency project) has been overgrown by weeds.
The project, allegedly nominated by a former member of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase, has faded into an unpleasant sight of taxpayers’ money put to waste.
But the former Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives denied nominating the projects.
Iriase, in a text message to The Nation, said: “I didn’t nominate any health centre for Uzebba throughout my tenure in the House of Representatives. So I am not connected with the abandoned project you referred to in your text.”
However, according to Tracka, a citizen advocacy group, the project, which was conceived as a health centre under the zonal intervention project with a borehole, was awarded in 2015 for N30 million.
Tracka, in its 2016 Federal Constituency Projects Report, said the lawmaker approached the community in 2015 and requested for a plot of land to execute the health centre, promising to build a grade B facility for the
The Community Head, Chief Dogo Samuel, according to the report, told Tracka team that despite the provision of the plot of land by the community as requested, the health centre is yet to be completed despite several efforts.
Also, in a letter by a former Special Assistant to the lawmaker, F. O Agge, in 2016 confirmed that Iriase nominated the project as part of his effort to ensure that “Uzebba benefits from federal projects.”
The former lawmaker thereafter directed the community to the implementing agencies – the Benin Owena River Basin and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency for “performance status, implementation plans and duration.”
The abandoned Uzebba health centre in its present state has been turned into a habitation for rodents and reptiles.
Ojavun: Completed but not functional
In Ojavun, a community in Owan East LGA, another health centre project constructed by the local council is about to go down the drain.
The project, a primary health centre completed in 2019, has not been open to access by residents of the community. Residents of the community said the facility has not been equipped since its completion last year.
The modest size building stands solitary in an expanse of land surrounded by weeds and bushes. Giant grasses have overgrown the site so much that one would need to stand on a pedestal to peep into the shattered state of the bungalow.
As at the time of going to press, the structure has not been functional, thereby depriving members of the community access to a needed lifeline.
A member of the community, Esther Esemuze said: “We don’t have a health centre in this community. If someone is sick and is in need of emergency care, if we don’t go to Sabo or Afuze we can’t access health care. If a woman is in labour we will look for transport for hours before we will get. These are the challenges we face. That’s why this health centre was established so that we can receive help.
“This health centre was built so that it can help children and women, especially when they want to give birth. The health centre has been established and abandoned halfway. We are still where we are with no health centre. We have not moved forward; we don’t know where we are going, we don’t know where we are coming from.”
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the revitalisation of 10, 000 Primary Health Care (PHC) Centres nationwide.
Under the first phase, the federal government which is collaborating with the lower levels of government and development partners in the scheme said it will work on a PHC in each of the country’s 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria. This means, three in each state and one in the Federal Capital Territory.
The president emphasised that the programme would focus on the poor, especially women and children under 5 years in the rural areas of the country. For children and women in Ojavun and Uzebba, a revitalised health care system in their communities is a miracle waiting to happen. It will no doubt be of great relief to their aching hearts and empty pockets.
Edo didn’t return calls
Efforts to get the Special Adviser to Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie to speak on the matter were not successful. Calls made to his mobile number were not returned. He was yet to respond to text messages sent to him as at press time.
But the governor, during the presentation of the 2021 budget to the state House of Assembly, stated that his administration has earmarked N11.3bn to strengthen the state’s healthcare system and provide quality healthcare services to Edo people next year.
While N1bn will be expended on contribution to the state Health Insurance Scheme, the other N10.3 billion will be used to strengthen institutions and systems required to provide affordable and quality healthcare service to the people.
Obaseki said: “The new design is that, with the pilot building of 20 primary health care centres for each local government to test it and the expansion to about 60, we hope to get about 250 PHCs in the next one and half years.
“In supporting a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would be reinforcing structures to support the provision of effective and efficient Medicare at the local government area level.”
- Reporting was done as part of Civic Hive Media Fellowship 2020.