The Jahi community is comfortably nestled on the fringes of central Abuja. Jahi is home to a population of more than 10,000 people. And the number keeps increasing due to the booming real estate sector creating a steady stream of nouveau rich in the community.
However, one of the most important needs of the community has not witnessed a change of fortune. Some of the local primary healthcare centres are in a bad state, with inadequate facilities and health workers to serve the bourgeoning community. I visited just one to provide an example of the need for Nigeria to invest in basic health services for its citizens.
Located on the only major road into the community, this healthcare centre looks more like an abandoned building than a clinic.Inside, the clinic records office calls to mind an archive rather than a dynamic medical records unit. And there was no medical records officer to attend to inquiries.
The doctor’s office was locked at the time of our visit and was adorned with only a curtain. The ceiling to the office had been broken—a sign that it recently been burgled. In the waiting room to the labour room/theatre, the white ceramic wash hand basins had turned brown. In the adjoining room, the operating theatre and labour room were bare except for a rusty operating bed and an over-burdened ceiling fan. It lacked basic surgical equipment, drugs, and personnel. It was poorly lit and one wonders how a medical emergency would be handled.
Next to the theatre is the only hospital ward, this room has two beds and neither was marked for a particular gender. From this ward, it’s a 200-metre walk to the bathroom and toilet, which are located outside the main building.
The pharmacy/dispensary lacks any drugs or prescriptions—the most visible things in the pharmacy are empty packs of paracetamol and antibiotics.
This is not to shame any particular clinic, but to highlight the need for Nigeria to invest in basic healthcare. My takeaway from a visit to this clinic was one of frustration. If as Nigerians, we don’t ask the government to commit to the implementation of the 1% consolidated revenue fund (CRF), more of our PHC’s will continue to go this route.
The National Health Act that ensures 1% of Nigeria’s Consolidated Revenue Fund should go to our primary healthcare centres. This is not being implemented. If we have more funds for health, with improved transparency on how they are spent, Nigerians will have better access to quality healthcare.
That’s why thousands of us are tweeting and Instagramming pictures of local health clinics, using #MyNaijaClinic. Together, our pictures are sending a strong reminder to President Buhari to keep the commitment to deliver basic healthcare for all.