In 2016 when construction workers commenced work on the site of the cottage hospital in the Dadin Kowa community in Doguwa local government area in Kano State, residents were elated.
Abubakar Hassan, a commercial motorcyclist was there to witness the ground-breaking event. He hoped that the health challenges residents face would soon be a thing of the past but that was not the case.
“Seven years down, all we are seeing is perpetual construction of buildings and delivery of equipment with trucks, but no significant change has happened,” he said.
Despite the completion of some new buildings, the hospital still operates in just one building, culminating in hardship for residents while trying to access health care.
“We are really suffering here because our only government hospital is not working properly. And we can’t really rely on private hospitals either, even if we have money to pay, they are not well equipped,” Mr Hassan added.
Huge Budgetary Allocation
Branded well-equipped cottage hospital, the project has gulped over N700 million since it was introduced in 2016. It was nominated by Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, the lawmaker representing Tudun Wada/Doguwa Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives.
In 2016, N72,000,000 was allocated for the construction of the hospital with modern equipment. Since then, Mr Ado-Doguwa, who also doubles as the House of Representatives Majority Leader, has initiated seven other projects for the construction of more buildings and the supply of hospital equipment.
In 2017 ZIP, another N130 million was allocated for more buildings and N120 in 2018.
In the 2019 ZIPs, N100 million and a separate N50 million were allocated for the completion of the building of a health centre and procurement of modern equipment respectively.
Another N50,000,000 was also allocated for the supply of equipment in 2020 ZIP.
The latest allocation for the hospital in 2021 was the N150 million allocated for “the construction of Modern Female Ward, Provision of RAM and Construction of Emergency Unit”, while N50 million was earmarked for procurement and supply of emergency medical equipment.
Cumulatively, a total sum of N722 million has been budgeted for the hospital within a period of seven years, all of which were supervised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
The State Of The Hospital
This reporter visited the Dadin Kowa village to assess the work done over the years.
Currently, only one of the buildings, which was completed in 2016, is working and it serves as the primary health care centre serving the community of over 10,000 population
Usman Umar is the senior Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW) and officer in charge of the facility. He explained that the health care centre was moved to the newly constructed Dadin Kowa cottage hospital from where it was before because the old place was too small and it is the only one in the village.
He also complained about the cramped nature of the facility, the lack of medical experts and how they are limited to only a few health services.
“Even now, this building is too small for us. And we can only try to deliver health services based on our resources in this situation,” he said. “The services we render are mainly outpatient, basic lab, antenatal, labour and delivery services. But we are not operating cases, it is beyond our qualifications. We refer cases that require surgery to the government hospital at Doguwa town, which is about ten minutes away,” Mr Umar said.
A walk around the facility revealed that there is a lack of space to accommodate patients. There are eight rooms in the facilities. The first is used for the male ward, the second is used for the female ward and another is for the reception. The rest of the rooms are merely cut to fit a small office, pharmacy, laboratory and one-bed delivery and emergency rooms.
Although the health centre offers only a cramped-up space, the hospital compound houses other big buildings which would have made health care easier if put into use.
This reporter counted at least eight completed but locked or under construction buildings. The completed ones include; the main general hospital, emergency unit, maternity wards, mortuary, outpatient wards and staff quarters, embarked for 2016 to 2020. While additional three buildings embarked under 2021 projects are still ongoing, and almost completed.
This reporter noticed that some of the completed buildings are approaching dilapidation without being used, while equipment supplied over the years is locked away with dust and cobwebs engulfing them.
A mother of three, Maryam Muhammad is one of the Dadin Kowa residents who had suffered from the inadequate state of their PHC. She lamented that her bad experience with the PHC during childbirth in 2017 has made her seek a painstaking alternative in neighbouring Doguwa general hospital.
“It was midnight when the baby came. A neighbour took me on a bike to the health centre because my husband is not around. I was in so much pain. Only for us to reach the centre and see there was neither electricity nor a midwife to take care of me. I had to come back home to deliver. Both my baby and I were safe, but since then, I would rather go to a private hospital or travel to neighbouring Doguwa for treatment,” Mrs Muhammad said.
Why The Hospital Remains Locked
When asked why the cottage hospital is not fully operational, Mr Umar noted that the lack of personnel is one key reason the hospital is yet to take off fully.
“This is a government issue, there are certain procedures and resources to be made available to operationalise hospital, like the appointment of a medical doctor.
“So the problem is not from the community or contractors, if they want to start today, they know how to do it. They know how to get that personnel. The place is well built and sufficient equipment is available. All that is left is to start work.”
When this reporter contacted the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board about the situation in Dadin Kowa Cottage Hospital, Bashi Hamza, the Under Secretary of the agency said the fault is not with the agency.
“You need to check with the supervising agency (National Primary Health Care Development Agency) if they have completed and handed over the project. It is their responsibility to ensure the projects are finished and handed over and ours is to hand over the keys to the health centre. I’m not even sure we have information regarding such projects,” Mr Hamza said.
This reporter further met the Principal Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Northwest Zone, Hassana Banjo. She said it is not the agency’s fault that the facilities are locked because policy authorizes beneficiary PHC to start using any building or equipment immediately after delivery.
“After completion of any work, it is the responsibility of the local government to open the facility. They merely need to invite the agency to witness the commissioning. Afterwards, they can even request any equipment they need.”
She hinted that there is a delay in opening completed health facilities sometimes because the politicians in charge might want to organise elaborate launching, which they can also use for campaigns.
Hon. Ado Alhassan did not respond to calls and text messages put through to his line.
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