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Understaffed Nigeria Health Centres Run By One Person

The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism conducted an assessment to evaluate the state of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in some selected Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in Kwara State. A total of 7 PHCs were assessed in the Kwara South senatorial district and they were situated in both urban and rural communities.

A shortage of medical personnel, impaired and inadequate infrastructure, the unavailability of water and power supply were observed to be the major hurdles to notable primary health care delivery in Nigeria.

The assessment uncovered major lapses in the management of WASH in the health facilities examined. One major thing observed in all the PHCs visited, except at Ijagbo, was that there were no patients—either on admission or walk-ins. It was understood that health facilities in rural areas have less access to WASH services than their urban counterparts.

Ajase-Ipo PHC

Except for the signpost on the roadside which announces the existence of the PHC, there is nothing to indicate that the dilapidated structure located at Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State is a health centre.

The faded paint on the wall of the facility makes the building appear evacuated. As it was approached, five medical personnel were met sitting outside.

The staff who spoke with this reporter explained that the building and rooms in it are in shambles. “The ceilings are in terrible condition. We are not always happy whenever it is about to rain. We are always restless and unhappy whenever it is raining because virtually all our rooms are filled with water. My colleagues and I contribute N5,000 monthly to foot the electricity bill,” Mrs Dada Odunola explained.

“There are nine of us working here; 1 laboratory technician, 2 CHEWs, and 6 medical officers. The staff quarters are nothing to write home about because they need renovation. We have to cross to the other side of the road before we can get water. It is a well of water and it is the only means we have.

“Aside from when this place was repainted in 2014 by Ajase-Ipo Descendants Union in the USA, this centre has never been renovated. We want the government to help us with the renovation work and adequate supply of water and electricity.”


PHC Erin South

It was an arduous task to locate this facility because there is no signpost or banner to acknowledge its presence. It took three attempts to get the description of this PHC after passing it by twice.

The facility, located at Erin-Ile South in Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara State, looks more like a residential building rather than a health centre. Some men were seen playing ‘Ayo’ outside the building. 

One of the nurses on duty told this reporter that it has been more than 2 decades since the facility was last renovated. “I can’t recall the exact year this facility was renovated but it is over 20 years,” Mrs Jenyo Esther Jumoke asserted.

According to her, it is through a task force committee set up by the community that the PHC gets its supplies from, adding that the government stopped supplying the centre many years ago.

“There is no availability of water supply. We always give gallons to Okada men to help us buy water from well water which is minutes away from here. Thus, our toilet is not available for the patients,” she explained.


Ijomu-Oro PHC

The PHCs at Ijomu-Oro and Oke-Rimi were locked when visited around 4 pm on Friday. Arriving at Oke-Rimi in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State the following day around 11 am, a pregnant woman was met at the centre. She told this reporter that the facility has 2 Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) and they rarely open on weekends.

“You are lucky to meet me here today. We rarely open on Saturday but when I came my house was not far from here and we always have patients. Two of us work here and both of us are CHEWs. There is only one staff at the PHC at Oke-Rimi and she doesn’t open on Saturday also,” Mrs R.T. Akanbi said.

“This building was built by Governor Muhammed Lawal primarily as a film house. It was a hall and in 2017 when we wanted to start using this place as a clinic, it was the community that was renovated and divided into three rooms.

“We are not enjoying the necessary basic amenities like the supply of water and electricity. When we have patients at night, they come to my house and I follow them here. We often attend to them with torchlight.”


PHC Igosun

The shaggy-looking building located in Igosun ward, Oyun Local Government Area looks different on the inside. Though not a marvellous interior, it is very well kept. Mrs Beatrice Salawu O. and one other staff member are the only two people around.

Beatrice disclosed that the officer-in-charge had just left a few minutes before Premium Times arrived and confessed that she doesn’t know more details about the clinic statistics “She is my boss and she knows more about the clinic than me and my colleagues,” she said.

The officer-in-charge eventually relayed the total population of people accessing the centre.

Iludun-Oro PHC

The PHC, which is in the same compound as Cottage Hospital in Irepodun Local Government, is run by one person alone. The building was deserted on Saturday morning but a member of staff of the Cottage Hospital put a call through to Mrs Ogunwuyi F.O, who arrived 10 minutes later.

The CHEW staff, Ogunwuyi, explained that the shortage of staff has crippled the purpose of the clinic’s existence. “As you can see, I am the only one working here and it has not been conducive for me. There’s nothing to be happy about in this centre. The building is horrible, and it was last renovated in 2010. There’s no electricity supply since it was disconnected 5 years ago, no water supply.”


Cottage Hospital Ijagbo (Comprehensive Health Centre)

At the PHC, fondly referred to as General Hospital by residents, the officials at the centre all lamented over the bad state of their toilets which they unanimously attributed its cause to the unavailability of water.

“Other challenges are facing us but lack of water supply is our major problem and we would be happy if the government can help with that. We have locked the toilets as a result of the unavailability of water. The facility seems okay from outside, but it needs a complete renovation,” Mrs Alabi Alice said.

Balogun BHC

This centre is located in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State. It was observed that the facility had lately been renovated, but it was empty. A man and two female nurses were around.

The rooms were tidy and the environment was neat, but there were no patients. The male officer who doesn’t want his name in print recounted that the centre needs the service of midwives as the CHEWs are the people carrying out the function. 

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