3-year-old Abubakar Aminu from Danshayi village in Rimi Gado local government of Kano state is still recovering from the horrific incident which occurred on the 21st of April 2021.
It was midnight. While in the kitchen with his mother, Little Aminu had some hot water poured on his leg. Panicked and worried, his mother, Madina Adamu, applied traditional remedies to the scalded legs, a step which only made it worse.
The only primary health centre in the community only opens between 8 am and 3 pm, so there was nowhere to seek medical assistance
“He woke up crying at midnight when blood started gushing out of his legs. The painful part was that there was nothing I could do for him but pray. He had to endure till morning when the village PHC opened,” Mrs Adamu told UDEME.
Aminu, her son, is no stranger to the poor health service in Danshayi, but Mrs Adamu is more worried about women’s experiences during childbirth. She admitted that conceiving mothers always have to decide whether to journey about 40 kilometres to Rimi Gado General Hospital on a motorcycle during labour or to deliver at home. Two options she considers to be dangerous.
Interaction with some of the women shows they mostly choose the latter, which in the past has yielded a series of meaningful stories.
Aisha Mohammad, a resident of Danshayi, shared her tragic experience.
“The baby came at midnight, the village hospital has closed, it has no electricity or equipment for delivery. I gave birth at home with bleeding, but it wasn’t until the following day that I went to a hospital in Kano.”
Perhaps, the situation could have been different for Mrs Adamu and Mrs Mohammed if the construction and equipping of Dashayi hospital, budgeted at N40 million, had been completed.
In 2019, Honourable Abdulkadir Tijjani, the lawmaker representing Rimi Gado/Tofa/Dawakin Tofa Federal Constituency, nominated the project as part of his zonal intervention projects(ZIPs).
The project was supervised by the Office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs). Information from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation indicates that all ZIPs in 2019 has been fully funded.
Hospitals constructed without equipment
When UDEME visited the project location in the Dashayi community in May, a hospital building was discovered, but there was no equipment to run it.
Farid Ibrahim, the Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW), said the construction was poor and no equipment was ever provided.
“The contractor did a poor job. First, only one ward was constructed. We don’t know whether it is for females or males. To worsen the matter, no tangible equipment was supplied, not even a bed,” he said
His colleague, Muta Wakili, also one of the CHEWs, corroborated Ibrahim’s position.
“The lack of equipment and, of course, personnel are affecting the community. We cannot take cases that require admission, mainly because of no bed. We usually refer them to Rimi Gado General Hospital, which is about 40 kilometres away.”
He added that “In Danshayi, there is no electricity and the roads are not motor-able. So you can imagine carrying a sick patient or a woman under labour pain on a motorcycle for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, that is the life here.”
Another budgeted supply of hospital equipment in Jobe PHC failed to happen
A similar situation was found at Jobe PHC, another health centre nominated by Mr Tijjani for the supply of hospital equipment, under the 2019 zonal intervention project, also assigned to the same supervising agency. N12 million was budgeted for the project.
When he visited the project’s location in June 2022, the awful smell of goat faeces splashed around welcomed this reporter. Most of the ceiling had fallen off and the ward had only one bed.
The hospital is primarily an open space with no equipment in sight, making it impossible to admit patients.
The PHC was established in Tofa LGA, Kano North senatorial district of Kano state, in 2011 by Mr Tijjani. Since its establishment, however, it has not received any equipment or infrastructural intervention from the government.
“The lack of equipment affects us in many ways,” the health officer in charge, Tijjani Sanni, said. “For example, we cannot admit patients. Maybe only for observation. If our time is off, we send them to go home and come back the following day. A lot can happen before the following day. So the project could have helped a lot if it was implemented.”
A resident of the community, Ahmed Hassan, said many of the community members have given up on the PHC, as they would rather self-diagnose and use herbal remedies than visiting the PHC.
“The hospital lacks equipment, has no bed, everything is old. If we come here, they will either give us small drugs that will clearly not work or they will refer us to the general hospital in Tofa (LGA), which transport fare and stress cost more than money for drugs,” Mr Hassan said.
PHCs only open 8 am to 3 pm
UDEME visited both PHCs on different days. Although the PHCs were closed when this reporter arrived minutes past 8 am, there were already queues of people waiting for health workers to come.
The PHCs officially open at 8 am and close at 3 pm on Monday to Friday and do not open on weekends.
However, the health workers blamed the situation on the lack of adequate equipment and personnel that would be available for 24 hours. In Danshayi, there is no electricity, doctor’s house or equipment. While Jobe has installed solar power, it also lacks equipment and a doctor’s house.
Further inquiries made by UDEME revealed that only one hospital is operating 24 hours in Tofa LGA – the Tofa General Hospital. A 2020 research by Nigeria Health Watch, conducted on 49 PHCs in Kano, revealed that only 19 (38.8%) facilities operate a 24-hour/7 days service.
“It is unfortunate that the PHC cannot open at night”, Mr Sanni said. “Complicated malaria and critical labour usually happen in the night, and you can imagine taking a labouring woman 40 minutes down to Tofa LGA at that night. In the process, a woman can lose her life. We have had such cases.”
He added that all the hardship community members go through could have been avoided if PHC were well catered for.
Lawmaker, agency react
The office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Development Goals blamed lack of funding as the reason for the uncompleted and non-executed projects in Danshayi and Jobe, respectively.
Mr Utomwen said the construction and equipping of the hospital in Danshayi, which was budgeted at N40 million, got roughly N20 million, while the one in Jobe got no funds.
“The one for N12 million equipment (in Jobe) was not awarded because there was no release of funds from the government, and you know once there is no release of funds, you (the agency) can’t do anything.”
Interestingly, the agency’s claim was found to be contrary to the information provided by the office of the Accountant General of the federation to UDEME, which showed that funds for all 2019 ZIPs were fully released.
All effort to reach Honorable Abdulkadir Jobe was abortive. The lawmaker neither picked calls nor replied to messages sent to him by UDEME.
Keywords: Kano hospitals, zonal intervention projects, primary health centre, Kano
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