Minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora has said that most of the primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in the country are not functional.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by the house of representatives committee considering bills seeking to establish federal medical centres, Mamora noted that less than one-third of the 30,000 primary healthcare centres in the countries are functioning optimally.
The Minister who stressed that these PHCs require adequate funding, stated that general hospitals and tertiary healthcare centres have “become choked” because of the neglect of PHCs.
“A number of the existing facilities health of institutions are groaning under the pains of inadequate funding. Whether federal medical centres, whether they are teaching hospitals, even at the primary health centre level in the communities.
“It would interest you to know that at the last audit that the ministry of health carried out, out of about 30,000 primary health centres in that audit report, we have less than one-third that is functional and even those ones are not fully functional because the functionality is not determined by the building, the physical structure.
“You need the services, you need potable water. You need renewable energy. You need a means of transportation so that whatever cases that cannot be handled at that level would be easily moved to higher centres maybe at the secondary or tertiary levels. These are the basic challenges.
“What we were told in medical school is that common things occur commonly and that is why malaria still remains the highest cause of mortality and morbidity in this country today. Malaria has killed more than HIV and COVID has killed and unfortunately, most of the cases can be managed within the primary care level, if only this primary health centres are functional and able to offer the basic services.
“We feel very strongly from the ministry of health that this is where we need to focus our attention, we know that the bulk of the people live in the rural areas and their first port of call is the existing facilities in primary health centres that they could easily approach when they have these challenges.
“From what we have seen is that rather than go to these centres where things are not functioning well, they now go to general hospitals and tertiary centres and they become choked. Tertiary centres are supposed to be referral centres. It is only the complicated cases that are supposed to be referred to the tertiary centres. We need to get it right.
“Any bill that is presented is supposed to be accompanied by the financial compendium which should give the outline of the sustainable financial cost of the implementation of the bill if it becomes a law,” he said.
“We need to emphasise that it is not just putting a physical structure on the ground that is the problem or putting equipment on the ground because the hood does not make the monk.
“You also need the human resource for health and that is the most critical; in recent past, we had crisis from the various health union and in all of these, the fundamental issue is financing.”