Residents of Tungan-Yakubu, Tungan-Makama, Ganaje, Gajiri and Yaguru, among other communities located off the Abuja-Kaduna highway in Niger State, were delighted when a health facility was built by a concerned individual, and handed over to the state government to be used as hospital. However, what was supposed to give succour and relief to the sick and injured from the aforementioned communities and beyond, has been deserted despite overcrowding at the two nearby government owned hospitals located in Suleja and Sabon-Wuse towns.
Located in Tafa Local Government Area of the state, the hospital was built about five years ago, and donated to the state government in February last year.
Abdurrahman Idris is a resident of Tungan-Yakubu, the community where the facility was sited. In an interview with Daily Trust Saturday, he narrated how the idea to build the facility was conceived by the donor, who initially had planned to build a petrol station in the place.
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Yakubu, who doubles as the chief security officer of the facility, said he’s been supervising the place, right from when it was bought as a virgin land, more than 10 years back. “I was farming on the land while taking care of it against encroachers, which the man employed me for. One day, he paid a visit to the site but unfortunately on his way back, he had an accident with the power bike he was riding.
“There was confusion about where he should be taken to for treatment between Suleja and Sabo-Wuse general hospitals. That was how the man-made a vow that if he survived the accident, he would convert his decision of building a filling station to that of hospital, which would also serve as a trauma centre for road users, along the expressway. He started the work and finished it within two years,” Idris added.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that the facility is a 50-bed capacity health centre, comprising male and female wards. It also has a theatre, antenatal and postnatal services, laboratory, pharmacy, among others. There is also a staff quarters within the premises, where about 26 staff members currently live, under the payroll of the Niger State government.
However, Daily Trust gathered that there were cases of vandalization and stealing of some items between the time the facility was completed about five years back and the informal hand over, which took place last year. One of the security men attached to the facility, Ibrahim Salisu, said about 13 air conditioners installed in various buildings were taken away alongside a water pumping machine that provides water to the hospital, with the latter being replaced thereafter.
Malam Ishaqa Bawa, a resident of Gajiri community, disclosed that all the communities within proximity of the hospital were filled with joy over the citing of the health facility in their area. That, according to him, was based on their experiences in accessing health care in far away Suleja and other places.
“I could recall when I trekked with my wife to the main road in order to be able to board a taxi around 2am. She was in labour and we had to get to Umaru Musa Hospital in Sabo-Wuse, where she registered for antenatal. Thereafter, I had to trek back home to get other items, but unfortunately on my way back to the hospital, I was attacked by a gang of armed robbers who beat me up mercilessly. So, you can imagine the kind of joy we felt when we heard about the commissioning of the facility about a year ago.”
Malam Bawa, however, said their happiness was dampened when they discovered that the hospital cannot handle most of their health issues as a result of lack of adequate equipment as well as manpower.
Sulaiman Muhammed, who said he once assisted a friend to convey his sick wife to the facility, lives in Tungan-Makama, another community in the area. “I had to quickly advise him to move his wife away from there after observing the lack of necessary equipment and health personnel,” he said.
Daily Trust spoke to the Chief Nursing Officer of the hospital, Malam Abdullahi Mali, who was seen attending to patients, in the absence of doctors during a visit.
Mali said after the facility was commissioned by the Niger State government in February last year, about 26 personnel were drafted to the site by the state hospital management board to run it. He said though the facility is classified as a general hospital, there are challenges of lack of equipment and items to man the hospital successfully. “There’s a theatre but there are no proper equipment in place to carry out operations here, even when the personnel are around.
“We also lack items like stretchers, wheel chairs, couch, oxygen, incubator and sterilization machines, among others. We also lack equipment to handle the Accident and Emergency department. As a result of lack of microscopes, we can only handle minor tests such as pregnancy and malaria, while tests like HIV are referred to sister hospitals,” the chief nurse adds.
Reacting, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammad Makusidi, corroborated the story that the hospital was built following an accident encounter involving the managing director of an Abuja-based company, Kapita-Centrum. He said the man donated the facility, through pronouncement, to the state government for management, but incidentally as he adds, an official formal handing over procedure could not take place, up till now.
“The state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, was so happy about the gesture, and graciously granted a single appeal made by the donor, to name the facility after his mother. But as you are aware, everything in government has to pass through formal procedures, and in line with that, I visited the philanthropist’s head office in Abuja, where he promised to act on that.
“That’s the stage we are right now, but we have since mobilized staff and furniture. “Though he couldn’t contact us ahead of the work, which would have given us the opportunity to make some technical inputs. The facility as he intended was mainly for trauma, but as at now there is no provision in place for facilities like X-Ray, CT Scan or MRA, and that can only be done after a certain amount of readjustment is carried out.”
Meanwhile, effort by our reporter to speak with the donor was not successful. When an official of the said company was contacted on phone over the issue, he simply said that the donor has nothing to talk about since he had already donated the facility to the Niger State government. “But if you are still willing to talk to him, you are required to write a formal letter,” the official said.