Nigeria needs N10 billion to complete 900 abandoned PHCs – Official

A PHC in Wamba Kurmi (Photo taken by Stephanie Adams)
A PHC in Wamba Kurmi (Photo taken by Stephanie Adams)

Nigeria will require about N10 billion to complete 900 abandoned primary healthcare centres scattered across the country, an official of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Abdullahi Bulama, has said.

Mr Bulama, Director, Planning Research Statistics, NPHCDA said in Abuja on Thursday that the agency does not intend to accommodate proposals for building new PHCs in the country because it has over 900 uncompleted PHCs.

Mr Bulama represented the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Fiasal Shuaib at the one day high level strategic dialogue on routine immunisation organised by the development Research and Projects Center (dRPC).

The dialogue on advocacy and accountability on routine immunisation in Nigeria was organised in conjunction with the National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria (NACHPN).

Mr Bulama acknowledged the importance of accountability in the federal and state governments saying it would ensure that RI (routine immunisation) goes a long way to reaching all Nigerians.

He said some of the problems facing RI is that some states do not know how many facilities they have.

While answering some of the questions fielded by the participants on state of abandoned PHCs many states, the official said NPHCDA is conducting a survey to know the number of PHCs in the country.

This, he said, has become necessary because most states are not even aware of the numbers of PHC facilities available in their states.

“We know there are lots of uncompleted and abandoned PHCs scattered across Nigeria that most states are not even aware of. Some states like Jigawa, Kebbi, FCT among others do not have an accurate record of the PHCs in the states. States like Kano had 96 per cent accuracy on the number of PHCs in the state. This is not acceptable,” he said.

He admitted that there is a problem but the agency is trying to find a solution to it.

He explained that the problem was generated through the indiscriminate allocations of PHCs as constituency projects by members of the National Assembly.

Mr Bulama said over the years, lawmakers usually cite projects and the late release of funds affects the projects from being completed.

He explained that the fiscal year closes by December and funds are usually released around October or November.

“You need six weeks according to procurement and other logistics to advertise and award contracts. So by the time you award contracts the fiscal year is almost over and you will release the money and when the year is over, the money is mopped up.

“We used to return three to six billion (naira), because you cannot pay for a project that is not completed, so the money will go back. In cases where new member are elected, the new lawmaker for the constituency changes the project and proposes a new site and thus the previous one would be abandoned. This is how the projects accumulated over the years,” he said.

Mr Bulama said about N10 billion is needed nationwide to finish the projects. He said the agency has agreed that there will be no new PHC construction from this year.

“As far as we are concerned, if any National Assembly member wants new construction, it is not possible. Because we will start something that we will not finish and nobody will look at any other agency aside NPHCDA. The community does not know anybody, only NPHCDA. And if we keep on building, our name will keep on being painted black, so we say no more new construction.”

He added that the agency will rather agree to renovations of PHCs and supply of medical items ”because it is something that can be done fast within few weeks.”

He said the agency is also trying to collate relevant data and have a scorecard for every state governor on their facilities and how they fare.

”We also intend to have a geo-location of every PHC facility in the country,” he added.

He lamented that in the North-central, there is no facility that is ‘five star’, ”meaning having a doctor, nurses, and working laboratories.”

In his own remarks, Senior Technical Advisor, dRPC-PACFaH@Scale, Emmanuel Abanida, said the government needs to improve services rendered by PHCs.

He said the PHCs are very important in healthcare delivery in the rural areas especially for immunisation programmes.

He however lamented that most of the PHCs in the country are short staffed and as such cannot function to full capacity.

“RI is very important and needs revival. One of the problems facing the PHCs is the lack of manpower. There are 86 training institutions in the country for community health workers and so far, over 200,000 workers have been trained between 1997 and 2017, while only 122,000 are engaged either in private or public facilities.

“The question now is: why are the rest not engaged? Is it that the government does not have enough money to do so?” he said.

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