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Reptiles take over abandoned  Lagos riverine PHC

  • Communities demand urgent attention

The abandoned PHC at Oriade LCDA

The hope of getting an efficient Primary Health Care (PHC), for Irede and Ikaare riverine communities in Amuwo Odofin was raised when a PHC was midwifed by the Ibrahim Tunde Sanusi administration of Oriade LCDA Executive Council, Lagos state,  in 2012. But the project has remained uncompleted since then and the people still  groan under perpetual poor health care services as quacks rule. Juliet Umeh writes,

Life could best be described as unfair to the people of Irede and their neighbouring community Ikaare, as access to quality healthcare has persistently become a herculean task due to lack of Primary Health Care for both communities with more than 7000 populace in Oriade LCDA of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area.

Obviously, the indigenes of these communities have been left to their fate or in the hands of self-acclaimed visiting doctors whose ultimate goal is to extort money through the sale of drugs while pregnant women and children are left in the hands of crude traditional birth attendants, TBAs, who provide antenatal care and subsequently take deliveries.
Recent visits to these communities which have existed for centuries proved that they have never experienced robust good health care system, except non-functional Dispensary which was erected for them during the days of Lateef Jakande’s administration in 1979.
Investigations, by Nigeria Health Online (NHO) however, revealed that the said Dispensary never worked until 1999 when one of their sons became LG Chairman in Amuwo Odofin LGA; that was when the Dispensary experienced skeletally services as nurses were deployed there twice weekly.
Further revelations shows that the hope of the challenged communities was revitalized when the Dispensary was demolished in 2012 during the tenure of Ibrahim Tunde Sanusi as the Chairman of Oriade LCDA with the view to building proper Primary Health Care to cater for the two communities. However, it has been the case of the more you look the less you see as the building currently remains uncompleted as reptiles, other animals are currently competing for space with human excreta in the structure.
Speaking with some of the sad villagers, Mr. Sabitu Akanbi who acts as Irede community head after the demise of their King three years ago, noted that despite the fact that the community have been in existence for a very long time, they are yet to experience enough government presence.

“The dispensary was demolished, supposedly to be replaced with a proper PHC but that project has remained uncompleted èver since. It is the two traditional birth attendants in the community that help our pregnant women,” Mr. Akanbi said.Also, Mr. Saliu Sekoni, one of the elders in community reacted on how their women manage: “We have one or two TBAs within the community that rise to such occasion. Even when the dispensary was operating, the nurses come and go; they attend to minor ailments, they give them available drugs and prescribe for them.

Similarly, the late Oba’s daughter, Assisat Lawal, who spoke passionately, said their people are going about with all manner of illnesses unknowingly due to lack of PHC.
“We don’t even know our health condition. Most of our people are going about with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and all those kind of internal illness and quack doctors do come here, all they care about is what they will make, they don’t refer them to hospitals,” she said.
Describing the acclaimed doctors’ manner of operation, Lawal said: “They will come in and say: I have checked your blood pressure and it has risen, then buy this and that. Meanwhile, the person neither has address, nor identity card to prove his authenticity,” she explained.
“A lady died barley a year ago out of ignorance.  She had high blood pressure and the fake doctor that was coming was giving her medications. The blood pressure was over high, 240/180. It was just too much. By the time she was about to give up she was paralyzed and in less than few hours she died. In our environment, a lot of people are going about with that and they don’t know,” she lamented.

From interactions, pregnant women who could not register at Ibeshe, the nearest PHC which is about 10 minutes boat ride, resort to self help or patronize TBAs.Fatima Saliu, mother of four said she had her first two children when she was with her mother in Ojo.

“Then my third born and the 4th were delivered by myself at home. I didn’t go to hospital. On the day of delivery, my co-wife helped me to cut the placenta. She is not a nurse but the baby was already out and she did it very well. I did not have any problem at all,” Saliu said.
Mrs. Abike Hameed, a 25 year old mother of two, totally depends on TBAs for all her babies. “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,” Hameed recounted.
As for 26 year old mother of two, Mrs. Opeyemi Adegboyega, who narrated her ordeal during her pregnancy: “I registered in one private hospital across the river, it was hell for me to go there and return. The experience was not funny. I had to embark on fasting every Friday during my pregnancy period.
“My prayer was that my delivery should not be at midnight. Thank God I delivered my baby during the day time,” she said.
While calling on the government to hasten the plans of making the abandoned PHC structure a priority, Sekoni appealed to government to also look into the exorbitant billing given 10 reverine communities by Power Holding which has led to the disconnection of  power supply to the  communities in September 2017.
It was not even up to two years that the communities first tasted electricity.

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