The basic health centre in Gegu-Egba community in Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State is in a dilapidated state due to several years of neglect by successive administrations, both at the local and state government levels.
The multi-million naira health centre, located close to the Abuja-Lokoja highway, was built by the European Economic Community (EEC), in collaboration with the Federal Government, but was abandoned in 1983 under the administration of the late President Shehu Shagari when Kogi was under Kwara State.
Any passerby, either on foot or driving through the Abuja-Lokoja highway, can easily catch a glimpse of the clinic, due to its proximity to the highway.
Our reporter who visited the health centre, which is just some few meters away from Gegu-Egba community, observed that its premises has been taken over by grasses, while ceilings and roof tops of buildings have fallen off.
It was also observed that parts of the walls of the buildings have cracked, even as there are no medical equipment inside the clinic, except few beds. Both male and female wards are covered with dust.
Also, some facilities inside the clinic are in total decay, with reptiles taking over the place. The roof top of the ante-natal ward has been blown off.
It was gathered that since the health centre became fully operational in 1992 during the administration of a former chairman of Kogi Local Government, Alhaji Isah Odadi, it has not been renovated.
Some residents of Gegu-Egba community who spoke with our reporter said most sick people and pregnant women usually travelled either to Lokoja or Abaji to seek medical attention.
Suleiman Yahaya, a resident of the community said, “Apart from the dilapidated nature of the clinic, there are no doctors, nurses and drugs. You can only see a health attendant, who is from the community, especially during immunisation; that is all.
“Whenever there is an emergency, especially when a pregnant woman is under labour, one has to take the risk and take her to either Abaji or Lokoja,’’ he said.
It was also gathered that the health centre was expected to serve some neighbouring communities such as Chikara; Omoko; Aseni; Idu; Etegi; Ahoko; Kpotoku and Sadauna. Others are Kwakwa; Adanya; Adabo; Tawari; Tazenyi; Sabo; Okusa; Igbogo; Gaba; Shema; Odenyi; Orehi; Akyabo; Manyare; Ogase; Robomi; Ajedna; Iraki; Agidi-Gwari and Gegu-Beki.
Our reporter was told that the sick from these communities mostly travel to either Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or Lokoja to seek medical attention.
A health attendant at the centre, Suleiman S. Haruna, who was the only staff on duty when Daily Trust on Sunday visited, said lack of medical equipment, doctors and renovation had been the major challenge facing the facility over the years. He added that there are four trained staff nurses, hospital attendants and three night guards.
According to him, the entire roofs of buildings in the health centre are leaking. He added that the only service rendered at the facility is immunisation, which takes place every Wednesday.
“Patients from some neighbouring villages who usually came here to seek treatment have stopped due to lack of facilities and the dilapidated nature of the health centre,’’ he said.
He further said they had written several letters to the authorities of both the local and state governments over the nature of the health centre, but nothing has been done.
Haruna also said a big generator that was used to power the health centre was stolen some years ago, adding that there’s no functional facility to admit patients.
“Only some patients with minor cases sometimes come here and we prescribe drugs for them, which they buy outside,’’ he added.
Also speaking with our reporter, the president of Gegu-Egba Descendants Association (GEDA), Abdullahi Shuaibu, recalled how the health centre had served accident victims along the Abuja-Lokoja highway.
“When the basic health centre was functional some years back, sometimes accident victims were admitted, but the place is now in a state of decay due lack of attention from the government,’’ he said.
Shuaibu said the GEDA had also written several letters to the local government, Kogi State Ministry of Health, as well as the Japan International Agency (JICA), on the need to come to the aid of the people of Gegu-Egba community and rehabilitate the health centre, but nothing has been done about it.
He also said that few years ago, some members of the House Committee on Health from the Kogi State House of Assembly inspected the health centre, but nothing has been done about the dilapidated state of the facility since then.
“I can also remember when members of the Kogi State House of Assembly, led by some officials from the state Ministry of Health, came to inspect the health centre, but up till now, we have not heard from them,’’ he said.
The Ohinoyi of Gegu-Egba, Alhaji Yakubu Adamu, said his people had been subjected to hardship due to lack of functional basic health facility in the area. He regretted that his subjects were forced to seek medical attention outside the community, thereby further endangering their lives.
He said he always mobilised his subjects to clear grasses that have taken over the health centre, and appealed to the local and state governments to come to their aid by rehabilitating and providing medical equipment in the centre.
“There are over 30 villages that are expected to seek medical treatment in the health centre, not only my community. I want to appeal to the government to come to our aid and fix the facility,’’ he said.
Speaking on the state of the health centre, a director in Kogi Local Government, Abubakar Adamu Ibrahim, a lawyer, said the rehabilitation and upgrade of the health centre had already been captured in their budget.
“In fact, the rehabilitation of the entire Gegu-Egba Basic Health Centre has already been captured in the budget of the local government. Just some few days ago, I went to defend the budget,’’ he said.