By Ruth Oketunde,
Unarguably, lack of essential healthcare services arising from inadequate equipment, poor distribution of health workers and poor staffing, lack of access roads to facilities can impede development of any community or nation.
However, residents in cities and big towns may not face challenges in accessing healthcare services such as those in rural communities.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) there are concerns about inadequate healthcare services, even at this critical time when there are prevailing health issues.
Some residents in AMAC and Abaji, two area councils in the FCT say that the primary healthcare centres in their communities are not serving the health needs of residents.
Some of them complained of inadequate skilled health personnel, absence of equipment and lack of maintenance culture, among others.
Mrs Iheoma Amupitan, a nursing mother and a teacher who resides in Gosa, a community along the Airport Road in Abuja, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that poor service delivery at the primary healthcare centres called for concern.
She added that most times, it was difficult to get a doctor on duty, though one could get only one or two nurses on duty at the centres.
“My major concern is the non-availability of a doctor on duty at all times because if there is a health emergency in the night, there is a slim chance of that person making it alive.
“This is because, there might be no doctor on duty, which is not good.
“These health centres are the closest to the residents of this community, I want to urge the government to ensure that adequate manpower is provided at all times,” she said.
Amupitan said that the health workers in the centres need periodic training to understand modern concepts of primary health care practices.
She added that the government must make the centres more attractive for residents by ensuring that the centres “are kept neat at all times and provided with needed equipment’’.
Mrs Caroline Amah, a resident of Piwoyi, which is also along the Airport Road, explained that inadequate personnel and drugs had always been the issue at the community’s primary health care centre.
She added that though, medical outreaches were usually organised by Non-governmental Organisations (NGO) and community based organisations, government on its part must ensure that health facilities in communities are adequately funded to encourage residents to access them.
“During antenatal clinics for instance, we do not have the equipment for scanning pregnant women, most times women in this community wait for these NGOs to come for medical outreaches to enable them have a scan.
“Drugs are always not available, and when they are available, they are usually in short supply.
“We only manage this health facility, because, it is the closest to us here,” she said.
Another resident, Mr Samuel Bako, a trader in Goza, added that the money paid for consultation and drugs were on the high side.
He stressed the need for the area council authorities to increase funds for the health sector.
Miss Joy Adeyemi, a resident of Byazhin Across, a community in Kubwa, decried the poor state of the road leading to the primary health care centre.
According to her, she spends an estimate of N150 to N200 to the health centre, and to also go back home, which is just a few kilometers away from her place of residence.
“So far, since I have been using the centre, I can say they are trying in the way they provide services, but my major issue is the state of the road.
“Especially in the rainy season, you will find it difficult accessing the centre because the roads are bad.
“If someone is not feeling fine, the thought of the stress one will encounter before getting to the centre, will make you just want to buy drugs from any pharmacy even without prescription and sit down in your house,” she said.
Based on existing reports on the provision of primary health care services, residents have limited access to proper health care services, especially in the rural communities.
Stakeholders in the health sector say that primary healthcare services are meant to be the closest to the people at the grassroots.
They advice that government, especially at the community level must ensure funds meant for health care are duly released and skilled personnel are posted to the centres.
Analysts also note that there ought to be pragmatic efforts at retaining health workers in rural communities by a holistic reform of the sector, strengthening governance mechanisms and improving the remuneration and support for health workers in rural communities.
According to them, access to healthcare and utilisation are vital elements of wellbeing and components of human capital because good health as an essential tool for development.
Mr Yemi Ipayida, CEO of a Health Management Organisation (HMO), told NAN that no government could adequately fund the health sector and advised that local government authorities should key into the health insurance scheme.
He said with contributions of at least N8000 per annum, residents could access quality healthcare services.
”My sincere advice is that residents and local authorities should take advantage of the NHIS.”