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Health centre abandoned for nine years, equipment rot away

At the entrance to Gui, a community in the Abuja Municipal Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, is a building just beside the community’s…

At the entrance to Gui, a community in the Abuja Municipal Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, is a building just beside the community’s primary healthcare centre. The building, at the lintel stage, is old from its look and that says much about the activities of the government in making primary healthcare accessible to the residents.
The building, undoubtedly, is another failed effort of the government aimed at ensuring better service delivery, especially in the area of primary healthcare.
Primary healthcare is an area managed by the area councils in the Federal Capital Territory since they are the nearest link of the government to the grassroots. But over the years, in many rural communities in the FCT, quality healthcare services proved hardly accessible to residents with many going long distances to obtain it.
Unlike some communities, Gui has a primary healthcare centre but the centre is a far cry from the recommended standard. The building is old, the floor cracked, facilities faulty as disclosed by a Junior Community Health Extension Worker, Akuso Zakariyyah, who conducted our reporters round the clinic.
The poor state of things in the centre, he added, must have prompted the need for having a new centre, which was built just beside the old one. But as soon as the building reached the lintel stage, the contractor disappeared from the site.
Though Aso Chronicle could not ascertain the cost of the project, sources in the community said it is a multi-million naira contract and the facilities for the centre have already been delivered, including an ambulance, since the beginning of the project in 2005.
“The building contract was awarded since 2005 and up till now, it’s not been completed,” the District Head, Alhassan Yusuf, said in answering frequent questions about the building.
Alhassan said when the building started, residents had hoped it would signal a new turn in the history of primary healthcare in the community but years after, the situation remains the same. He said residents go to Gwagwalada and some nearby private hospitals for their health needs as the centre cannot attend to serious cases.
“We have even reported to the government and it did not do anything, even National Assembly members came, we told them about the hospital and up till now, nothing has been done,” he said.
A resident, Shehu Salisu, says he does not patronise the primary healthcare centre in the community due to lack of competent hands to attend to patients, adding that he visits neighbouring communities for his health needs.
Salisu who expressed disappointment in the manner government undertakes projects, said the project would have been completed if properly monitored and pointed corruption among reasons stalling progress of the building.
Salisu, who spoke in Pidgin English, said the building has been abandoned for over nine years with the facilities to be used already on the ground, including an ambulance.
The district head said the ambulance had to be taken to the area council’s secretariat and nothing has been heard afterwards.
Akuso Zakariyyah, a volunteer at the primary healthcare, expresses fear about the state of the facilities at the centre, saying some have expired or have become faulty.
“I was here when they dropped all the items they want to use in this place, like this Millennium Development Goal clinic that they have been building in other places. Many things that the hospital needs to have are in this place.”
Zakariyyah said: “The contractors that started the work, from the foundation to this level (lintel level), spent just about one month, thereafter we are yet to see them.
“There was a day we were looking for monometer, used to test blood pressure, we now went there to pick one for use in the clinic, and we discovered that the entire instruments in the carton have spoilt, and that was last month.
“I have the belief that many things have expired, but the one I saw was that thing because I tested all of them in the carton, they were not stolen, but they are not in good shape.”
He said if something is not done, the aim of procuring the facilities would be defeated.  
On the state of the healthcare centre presently in use by the residents, he said it is understaffed with the medical worker in charge shuttling between the centre and a new primary healthcare centre in Gwosa community.
“Now they said she is going to handle the newly opened clinic in Gwosa, it is just like this one and it is a new place, they just asked her to take care of the place for now pending when they will open the place formally.”
Zakariyyah said that he could not say why the contractors stopped working on the healthcare centre’s building.
Aso Chronicle could not get the name of the contractor as the description board which is supposed to be at the building was not found and efforts to hear from the authorities of the area council were unsuccessful.
Zakariyyah called on the government to complete the project. Saying: “We have tried, nothing has been done, even the AMAC chairman came here when we had outbreak of cholera this year, and he promised to change this place within two weeks and nothing is being done.”
He said the toilet facilities in the centre, electricity and water are nothing to write home about, adding that there is need for it (old building) to be renovated.
“This month, (September) we recorded 52 patients among which were five labour cases and they all happened at night. I am the only one working here. In fact, I am suffering. How can I be working voluntarily for two years and nothing has been done?” He identified malaria as the prevalent illness in the community and attributed it to the poor sanitary conditions of the residents.  
“If the building had been completed, work started with enough staffers, honestly there would have been change because villagers now complain that if they come, they do not see people to give them what they need,” he said.

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