Irregular salaries, poor infrastructure, staffing mar primary healthcare delivery in Plateau

Abandoned staff quarters at PHC Rizek
Abandoned staff quarters at PHC Rizek

Grace Badung was lying on a mat, her baby close to her. The officer-in-charge of Kerke primary healthcare centre in Jos East Local Government Area of Plateau State was apparently bored – no other staff was with her on duty and no patient to care for.

Since their salaries became irregular, health workers became less enthusiastic about their work, the reason why Mrs Badung was the only one on duty at Kerke PHC.

Even so, she barely does anything. She said she chose to sleep because people were not coming to seek service and her colleagues stopped reporting for work because of non-payment of their salaries.

“There is no motivation at all,” she said. “We go for months before receiving half payment and there is no work for us, at least to practise what we learnt in school.

“Other challenges we have include lack of toilets and having to pay heavy light (electricity) bills. After a while, we could no longer pay so the light was disconnected.”

The situation in Kerke is hardly different from other primary health facilities in Plateau State, and, indeed, all over Nigeria. This has been reported in PREMIUM TIMES’ ongoing investigations of the state of primary healthcare across the country.

The facilities generally lack adequate personnel and material working resources, affecting access of Nigerians, especially the poor left behind at the rural areas, to proper healthcare.

“We cannot continue to go to a clinic that does not have a laboratory with equipment to run tests and a clinic that uses lantern to take child delivery,” said a Kerke resident, who asked to be identified as Mama Lucky.

The reporter learnt about the condition of the facility whenever it rains. Nothing had come of several letters to the state government, seeking action towards rehabilitating the facility.

Certainly, the poor human resource management practices, mainly irregular salaries and poor funding, have affected healthcare service delivery in Plateau State.

“It took us seven months to start getting 55 per cent of our salary but still we pay revenue every month to the local government,” said Ajiji Abigail, a health worker at the Rizek PHC in Zarazon, another community in Plateau State. “We are no being considered at all”.

Chidinma Innocent, a resident told our correspondent that challenges such as lack of electricity, water, toilet, laboratories, drugs and ambulance to carry patients make most people living in the area to look for affordable private health centres.

The laboratory scientist at Rizek PHC, Dinju Dalyop, asked: “Is it not a shame for a government property to be in this state, having an abandoned staff quarter for ages, no light, no wards and beds for patient and ambulance?”

In other LGAs, including Bassa and Langtang, the correspondent witnessed a similar situation of poor service delivery.

The Fuskan Mata, Zalikali and Mista Ali PHCs in Bassa LGA and Layi, Kwampa and Pigani in Langtang LGAs suffer from poor staffing, decrepit infrastructure and lack of essential services, namely water and electricity.

The executive secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Development Board, Miapkwap Livinus, said a new law was just passed to bring all the primary health facilities under the management of his board.

With this new development, he expressed optimism the conditions of the facilities would change, with two – Mangu and Bokkos – already under renovation.

He said the state government earmarked N120 million for the primary health centres in 2018.

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