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Irregular salaries, bad infrastructure, poor staffing mar primary healthcare delivery in Plateau

Grace Badung was met sleeping with her baby laid close to her. The officer-in-charge of Kerke primary healthcare centre in Jos East Local Government Area of Plateau State had become bored, having no other staff with her on duty and no patient coming for care.

Since payment of salaries became irregular, health staff have become increasingly less enthusiastic about their work, explaining to the reason Mrs Badung was the only staff at Kerke PHC.

The Laboratory at Kerke PHC

Even so, she barely does anything with regards to the delivery of healthcare to the people. She said she chose to sleep because nobody was coming to seek service and that her colleagues had stopped reporting for work because of non-payment of salaries.

“There is no motivation at all,” she said. “We spend months before receiving half payment and on the other hand there is no work for us at least to practice what has been learnt from school.”

“Other challenges we include lack of toilets to paying of heavy light (electricity) bills. After a long while, we could no longer pay so the light was disconnected.”

The situation in Kerke is hardly different from other primary health facilities in Plateau State and, indeed, all over Nigeria. This has been uncovered in CAMPUS REPORTER ongoing investigations of the state of primary health care in Nigeria.

The facilities generally lack both adequate personnel and material working resources, affecting access of Nigerians, especially the poor left behind at the rural areas, to proper healthcare.

“We cannot continue to go to a clinic that does not have a good laboratory with equipment for the running of tests and a clinic that uses lantern for deliveries to handle child delivery,” said a Kerke resident, who asked to be identified as Mama Lucky.

We learnt about what becomes of the facility whenever it rains due to its decrepit state. Nothing has come off several letters to the state government, seeking action towards rehabilitating the facility.

Certainly, the poor human resource management practices, mainly irregular salaries and poor funding, in Plateau State consequently impact on the healthcare service delivery.

“It took us 7 months before we were able to start receiving 55% of our salary but still we pay revenue every month to the local government,” said Ajiji Abigail a health worker at the Rizek PHC in Zarazon, Plateau State. “We are no being considered at all”.

Abandoned staff quarters at Rizek PHC

Chidinma Innocent, a resident told our correspondent that challenges such as lack of electricity, water, toilet, laboratories, drugs and ambulance to carry patients make most people living in the axis to look for affordable private health centres.

Also, the laboratory scientist at Rizek PHC, Dinju Dalyop, asked: “Is it not a shame for a Government property to be in this state, having an abandoned staff quarter for ages, no light, no wards and beds for patient and ambulance?”

In other LGAs, including Bassa and Langtang, we witnessed a similar situation of poor service delivery.

The Fuskan Mata, Zalikali and Mista Ali PHCs in Bassa LGA and Layi, Kwampa and Pigani in Langtang LGAs suffer from poor staffing, decrepit infrastructure and lack of essential services, namely water and electricity.

The executive secretary of the Plateau State Primary Healthcare Development Board, Miapkwap Livinus, said a new law had just been passed so that all the primary health facilities would be brought under the management of his board.

With this new development, he expressed optimism the conditions of the facilities would change, with two – Mangu and Bokkos – already under renovation.

He said a sum of N120 million was earmarked for the primary health in 2018.

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