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Abandoned PHC: We are neglected, Lagos communities cry out

…Quack doctors are exploiting our people – Princess Assisat

By Gabriel Olawale

Residents of Ikaare and Irede, two neighbouring communities in Oriade Local Council Development Area of Lagos, are in a quandary.

Abandoned Primary Healthcare Centre at the boundary of Ikaare and Irede communities in Lagos. (Inset )Abike Ahmed, a pregnant mother.

They have continually agonised over the inaccessibility and unavailability of qualitative healthcare services in their area.

The riverine communities  inhabited by over 10,000 people have witnessed recurrent loss of lives, notably among pregnant women and the elderly people in the communities as a result of lack of reliable health services.

Good Health Weekly  gathered that back in the 1970s, during the Lateef Jakande administration, a dispensary was built along the boundary of the two communities to service the inhabitants, but was later pulled down by the authorities to give way to the proposed Primary Healthcare Centre, PHC, in  2012 during the tenure of Ibrahim Tunde Sanusi administration as the Chairman of Oriade LCDA.

Investigations revealed that the anticipated PHC had been left uncompleted and later abandoned since 2013 leaving the residents without accessible healthcare services.Recounting an incident that occurred about a year ago in Ikaare community, one of the residents,  Mrs. Komolafe Adisa, said a friend of hers whose only daughter  died during childbirth, decided to leave the community afterwards.

“When the incident happened, I wondered if it was wrong to get pregnant. My friend had only one daughter that was about 16 years old when she was  impregnated by one Ahmed, who absconded and  left my friend to take responsibility for the pregnancy.

“The girl went into labour at midnight and although the traditional birth attendants in the community tried their best, it was to no avail. There was  fuel scarcity during that period and  none of the boat operators  had fuel. By the time we could find someone that had fuel, it was already late. She died and my friend was so overwhelmed with grief she decided to leave the community.”

According to Mrs Assisat Adebisi Lawal, daughter of the late king in Irede Community, it was precisely a year after the entire community mourned the death of one of its promising young daughters.

“She died out of ignorance,”  Assisat remarked adding  “The lady had high blood pressure and the quack doctor that came around gave her medication that worsened her situation. Few hours to her death, she was paralysed.”

Assisat lamented that life in the community is generally made worse by the menace of quacks that  regularly take advantage of the situation to exploit the people.

“What is really happening in this community regarding healthcare is not good. Some quack doctors  come around and lie to our people. They claim to have diagnosed   series of health problems, but their real intention is exploitation.

“They come around selling different kinds of drugs and I had to get one of them  arrested not too long ago. I often challenge  these fraudsters and question them. I discovered that some of them, after testing our people, take their results to qualified doctors for interpretation, and afterwards return to adminisiter treatment. But the qualified doctor does not even know the patient and  doesn’t know their medical history.

“In this community, we don’t even know our true health status; a lot of people are going around with chronic illnesses but don’t know their status.

“If there are good healthcare facilities that give  people opportunity to know their status, it is better, and even if they don’t give them drugs they can easily prescribe such drugs for them.  The doctor can be coming only three times in a week while the qualified nurse is on standby.

“During election period, our politicians  come around and promise us healthcare facilities but immediately after election we don’t see them again.”

A nursing mother in the community, Mrs. Opeyemi Adegboyega, told Good Health Weekly how during her pregnancy, she had to travel for about 30 minutes after crossing the river in a boat. According to her, she paid N1,000 for the trip.

“I registered in one private hospital across the river, it was hell for me to go there and return. The experience was not palatable. I was fasting every Friday during pregnancy.

“My  prayer was  that my delivery should not be at midnight. Thank God I delivered my baby during the daytime”she said

As for Mrs. Abike Hameed, a mother of three,  all her babies were delivered in Irede community by TBAs.

“I registered for antenatal with the TBA with N2,500 for the card. Every Saturday when I went for checkup, l paid N100. It was only during delivery that she collected N10,000’she said.

Mr. Sabitu Akanbi who has functioned as the Irede Community Head since the death of the king, said although the community has existed for a very long time, not much development has been recorded.

“We have the Salvation Army Primary School and Unity Grammar School which serve the two communities because the distance between the two is under three minutes.

“The dispensary was demolished with the view to build a proper PHC, but ever since, that project has not been completed. It’s just  two traditional birth attendants in the community that have been helping our pregnant women”,he lamented

Akanbi pleaded with government to assist in approving the appointment of a new king.

“It’s about three years now since our king died and we have not been able to enthrone another  until government gives approval’, he said.

One of the community leaders, Mr. Saliu Sekoni, noted that the 10 riverine communities in the LCDA enjoyed electricity for a while before it was cut off due to exorbitant billings.

“We have been agitating for rural electricity for a long time, but about two years ago they gave 10 riverine communities in Amuwo Odofin LGA and Oriade LCDA electricity which barely lasted for one year.We have a borehole which is our only source of drinking water and for other purposes’, he lamented.


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