SPECIAL REPORT: Unpalatable condition of Osun Primary Health Centre where patients buy ‘N300 tiger batteries’ before they can use medical appliances
Facilities at the 13-year-old Osun primary health centre, Ilesa, are in a very disturbing state. Patients buy 2B exercise books for medical records and at times they buy tiger batteries before they can use sphygmomanometer also known as Blood Pressure metre and other appliances. But the Commissioner of Health in the state, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu says that the government can not rehabilitate the whole PHCs at a go and affirmed that there are challenges in the health sector and they are being addressed.
APAGUNPOTE OLAYIMIKA CHOCOMILO reports:
The State of Osun recently benefited the sum of N916m from the Federal Government’s Basic Health Care Provision Fund which compelled the Executive Governor of the state, Gboyega Oyetola to declare state of emergency in the state and rehabilitation of nine(9) general hospitals and three hundred and thirty-two (332) primary health centres across the state on the 4th of May, 2019.
Six months after, WITHIN NIGERIA reporter visited the only primary health/maternity centre in Ward 7 under Ilesa-East Local Government as a patient to access the health care services and possibly evaluate the state of the health centre to see if there are new changes the centre had benefited from the ‘rehabilitation directive’ Governor Oyetola issued in relation with the N916m health fund.
It was an eyesore; patients buy 2B Exercise books for documentation of medical records in this 13-year-old primary health centre and at times they buy batteries to use some medical appliances especially during BP check up.
The five bedroom flat is situated in Ilesa-East Local Government, State of Osun and six localities are attached to the primary health centre and they are namely; Odundun, Anaye, Iroye, Iloro, Idifi and Idio.
The primary health centre was constructed by Hon. Isaac Olanrewaju Makinwa now late and commissioned by His Excellency, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola on 12th June 2006. The purpose of its establishment like others of its kind, is to provide quality health services especially in terms of maternity to residents at the grassroots it’s situated.
Facilities of this 13-year-old primary health centre are in a terrible state. There is no power supply in the centre and it is characterised with broken louvers, broken floors and outdated medical appliances. The outlook of the centre depicts a managebale one but a closer look at the centre would make one feel sad; if syringes, papers and other outdated medical appliances which distinguish a modern health facility to a traditional health structure are packed at one side, it would be an understatement to refer to it as “Iya Abiye house”.
Aside one motorised borehole project sponsored by UNICEF in front of the health centre where people pay a particular fee to fetch water and new coat of paints on the walls of the centre, there is little or no facility worthy of note in the 13-year-old primary health centre. The terrible state of roads linking the centre to nearby communities is alarming.
Several 2B exercise books are lying helplessly on the floor and tables at the centre. Some 2B exercise books are well arranged on the floor with an inscription on the wall that clearly shows the year each pack of 2B exercise books represent. These 2B exercise books consist of medical records of patients and users of the centre.
“It is easier to win a guniness ultimate search than to search for your 2B exercise book as a patient. Apart from broken pipes stored at the back of the centre, availability of two benches and two plastic chairs at the “supposed reception”, offensive odor that comes from the toilets that have apparently suffered neglect is alarming.
The health centre is characterised with broken floors, very similar with potholes on Nigerian roads. There are three beds available in the centre purposely for patients in a community where there are thousands of women and children.
There are only two benches available at the waiting room and a wooden chair at the entrance of the centre apart from two plastic chairs meant for workers and a large desk filled with medical card, files and 2B exercise books.
Asides two students of college of health technology who are temporarily working there for practical purpose, there are three health personnels who work in the centre but WITHIN NIGERIA reporter met only a visibly tired female worker who was attending to tens of patients at the same time.
WITHIN NIGERIA reporter arrived at the centre when a nursing mother was busy looking for the 2B exercise book she had earlier bought for his ward but could not be found. As a patient, the very first thing to do is to buy a 2B exercise book which is sold at the rate of N50 by a woman at the back of the health/maternity centre. Yet nursing mothers, pregnant women and sick people are forced to recieve treatment under this despicable situation.
I want to check my blood pressure (BP), WITHIN NIGERIA reporter requested. The only health worker available ordered one of the students of Osun College of Health Technology to perform the task. The blood pressure meter the student brought out is outdated, old and dirty. She tried to “switch on” the blood pressure meter but the meter did not work which shows that the batteries inside the meter are dead.
They told WITHIN NIGERIA reporter to buy two pairs of tiger battery which was sold at the rate of N300 few metres away from the centre before the reporter can make use of the blood pressure meter. WITHIN NIGERIA reporter bought the batteries and they eventually conducted the BP test.
One of the patients identified as Mummy Bukky told WITHIN NIGERIA reporter that it has become a tradition. If any patient shows up and the batteries are dead, he or she will buy another set of batteries before he or she can use the blood pressure metre.
Government needs to employ more health workers to assist these nurses. Is it possible for three health workers to be responsible for the treatment of thousands of people and there would not be any delay?, a rather depressed nursing mother asked.
As WITHIN NIGERIA reporter ponders on why a medical centre of a state where the sitting governor declared state of emergency on health would be like this, a woman in her late thirties jokingly said, “we have no choice than to accept our fate”. What a coincidence!
Mrs Ajayi, a member of the community told WITHIN NIGERIA reporter that insufficient staffs, inadequate drugs, absence of power supply, broken lourves and broken cemented floors are major challenges facing the 13-year-old primary health centre.
Another member of the community who happens to be a community leader identified as Akinola complained bitterly about insufficient drugs and lack of medical attention and health services. Lately, there are improvements owing to intervention from world bank and other concerned bodies.
Attempts by WITHIN NIGERIA reporter to speak with the Special Adviser on Public Health to Osun State Government and Honorable Commissioner for Works and Transport who is in charge of the rehabilitation exercise were futile. They did not return calls or messages sent to them.
Nevertheless, the Osun State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamot who acknowledged some of the claims by WITHIN NIGERIA reporter and argued that the doors of the government is open for query. He added that the government can not rehabilitate the whole PHCs at a go but they had not gone to bed over the matter.
Dr Rafiu Isamot told WITHIN NIGERIA that there are thousands of primary health centres in the state but only 817 primary health/maternity centres are functional. Out of all 817 primary health centres in the state, the government selected 332 health centres for rehabilitation.
“100 health centres were awarded and they have been completely rehabilitated. They have adequate staffs, sufficient drugs and other modernised medical equipments. Another 100 health centres have been awarded and they are under processing but I can tell you that no fewer than 150 health centres have been commissioned by the Governor of the state and these centres have adequate staffs, sufficient drugs and modern medical equipments, Dr. Isamot said.
With my analysis, there is possibility that the 13-year-old primary health centre is not among the selected centres for rehabilitation and if there is another fund in abundance, the rehabilitation exercise will move around, Dr. Isamot added.
He continued: “There are challenges and they are being addressed. The government is not watching at all. On the issue of tiger batteries, he expressed his shock over the allegation, stating that it is not possible.
He further added that the state government does not interfere in their funds which directly comes from basic health fund. They have running cost which comes from the basic heath fund.
There is no Primary Health Centre in the state that lacks medical appliances such as sphygmomanometer, stethoscope and many others. They are well equipped and if any patient is asked to pay any particular fee, he or she should declined and submit a query in that regards, he added.