No fewer than 918 primary healthcare centres across 32 states have halted operations in 2021, denying citizens access to quality healthcare services despite the raging cholera epidemic that has affected over 88,000 and killed more than 3,200 people.
This is as the Federal Government also revealed that it currently has 43 facilities under construction.
The information was contained in a document obtained from the Health Facilities Registry of the Federal Ministry of Health.
The Federal Government had in 2017 inaugurated a revitalisation programme for primary health care facilities across the country under which it committed to refurbishing 10,000 PHCs across the country with at least one centre in each of Nigeria’s 109 senatorial districts.
However, four years down the line, reports say that the government has yet to implement its promise to revitalise the PHCs with the existing ones in deplorable conditions.
An analysis of the document by The PUNCH revealed that out of the 918 PHCs that halted operations, 81 of them have been closed permanently with 837 closed temporarily, subject to re-opening.
Out of the 32 states, war-ravaged Borno State had the highest number of closed PHCs, accounting for 220 out of the total 918. This is followed by Adamawa State with 170 closed PHCs.
Other states with closed PHCs include Abia 1; Akwa-Ibom 2; Bauchi 2; Benue 16; Cross Rivers 8; Delta 9; Ebonyi 1; Edo 7; Ekiti 5; Enugu 4; Gombe 5; Imo 2; Jigawa 2; Kaduna 45, Kano 10; Katsina 42; Kebbi 35; Kogi 23; Kwara 23; Nasarawa 22; Niger 39; Ogun 19; Osun 35; Oyo 30; Ondo 1; Plateau 12; Sokoto 5; Taraba 49; Yobe 67 and Zamfara State 2.
The states with facilities under construction are Abia 1; Adamawa 2; Akwa-Ibom 1; Bauchi 3; Borno 8; Delta 6; Ekiti 1; Enugu 1; Gombe 1; Imo 1; Jigawa 3, Kaduna 1; Katsina 2; Kebbi 1; Kogi 1; Lagos 1; Niger 1; Osun 3; Oyo 1; Plateau 1 and Taraba 2.
Previous investigations by The NAN revealed that despite all past and ongoing efforts by the Federal Government, the implementation of PHC in Nigeria has been plagued by several challenges: poor governance, inadequate financing, poor human resources for health and under-utilisation of the PHC facilities by individuals and communities.
According to the World Health Organisation, primary health care is the provision of basic essential health services including preventive and rehabilitative services.
It serves as the first point of access to health care by individuals, families and communities, bringing health services as close as possible to homes and workplaces, and has thus been described as the bedrock of Universal Health Coverage.
In Nigeria, PHC centres, Basic Health Clinics and Comprehensive Health Centres deliver PHC services, with over 30,000 of these facilities spread across 9,565 wards in 774 Local Government Areas.
With oversight by the local government authorities, the majority of these facilities are in the rural, underserved and hard-to-reach areas to ensure equity and access to health services.
A healthcare service provider, Lekan Ewenla, in an interview with The NAN, said PHCs are to be maintained through collaboration between the government at all levels.
Ewenla said, “It is important to mention that as employers of labour, the state and local governments should collaborate with the Federal Government to ensure that the PHCs are functional and adequate services are delivered to the citizens.
“Most of the people in the rural areas cannot access the big hospitals in capital cities, not taking care of our PHCs or shutting them down will be denying these people health care.”
Efforts to reach the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Executive Secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, proved abortive as they neither picked their calls nor replied messages.