PHC Ado-Langbasa

30.06.2022 Featured REPORTER’S DIARY: A Day at Ado-Langbasa Health Centre Where Staff Sell Gov’t Equipment — And You Must Buy From Them

Published 30th Jun, 2022

By Opeyemi Lawal

The Primary Health Care Centre is an approach of the Federal Government to provide health care services at the grassroots. It was launched in 1988 to improve equity in access and utilisation of basic health services. More so, it caters for immunisation of babies and toddlers against major communicable diseases as well as maternal and child health. Most of the basic health services provided at PHCs are free. However, some PHCs are going all the way out to milk patients, especially parents who bring their wards for immunisation.

I was at Ado-Langbasa Community Health Center in Lagos to investigate claims that mothers who want to immunise their children against whatever have to pay for surgical gloves before their children are attended to.

A pair of surgical gloves is sold illegally for N200 while one is sold for N100, I had learned before setting out. Aside the fact that these materials that are supplied freely by the government to PHCs across the country are being sold, nurses and cleaners who work at Ado-Langbasa Community Health Center will deny your child immunisation if you don’t buy gloves from them.

Entrance of Ado-Langbasa PHC
Entrance of Ado-Langbasa PHC

I got to the health center acting as the sister to a mother who wanted to immunise her 15-month-old daughter against measles II. She had told me beforehand about their insistence on using only surgical gloves sold by them for the immunisation exercise. She also told me how the nurses and cleaners connive to extort mothers who think what they are paying is going to the government.

Aside from being mandated to buy the gloves, patients are also asked to pay N100 to the nurses for attending to their children. All this I had learned, but in order to find out the truth, we decided to get surgical gloves from a pharmacy and see if they would deny ‘my niece’ immunisation or not.

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We got to Ado-Langbasa Community Health Center at 10:07 am. At the left side of the entrance into the compound was a desk where mothers picked numbers to know their positions in the queue. It wasn’t ‘my niece’s first time at the health center, but it was mine.

An attendant attending to patients

We got in and joined over ten other mothers waiting their turn in the queue.

“Thirteen, 14, 15, 16, 17,” a female staff member of the PHC called out.

We were number 45 in the queue. Different baby cries from the immuniastion hall inside filtered into the reception. Mothers also chatted non-stop. They talked about anything and everything, from their toddlers’ unique characters to the attitude of the health center staff.

“They won’t attend to you if you don’t buy the gloves from them,” a woman whose boy bears Heritage said. ‘My sister’ had asked her if she would be attended to without having to buy the gloves from them.

“They will delay you till they are done attending to everyone else. Anyone with an appointment brings a separate N100 for the surgical gloves because it is mandatory,” she continued.

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Mothers waiting for their turn in the queue.
Mothers waiting for their turn in the queue.


At 11:23 am, it was ‘my niece’s turn to be immunised. We went into the immunisation hall together, as I wanted to be there to pacify her when the needle pierced her skin.

However, I was denied entry by the woman who was calling out names. My sister requested that I stay with her. There were six plastic chairs in the hall, all arranged in agreement with the social distancing rule.

The immunisation hall
The immunisation hall

While we waited, a cleaner identified as Taiwo asked my sister to pay N100 for a pair of gloves, as it was her turn in the queue, but my sister showed her the ones we brought with us. She refused and insisted that my sister pay for new ones because the nurse on seat wouldn’t accept gloves not purchased from the PHC. My sister said she couldn’t buy new gloves. Wouldn’t the ones we brought serve the same purpose?

After a few exchanges, my sister asked if she could transfer the N100 to her. I was watching from a distance like a bat (apologies to a former governor of Ekiti State). ‘My sister’ moved closer and asked if I could help her send the money to Taiwo. I had taken a few steps forward to ask Taiwo for her account details before she said she would help us out. ‘My sister’ was at the health center a week earlier but wasn’t attended to because the centre only gives out 20 doses of measles II vaccine in a day and by the time it was her turn they had reached their limit. So, Taiwo said, she could present the gloves she got from the centre at the time, but never the ones got from elsewhere.

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“No, I am not paying a dime. N100 for what exactly? Do I have to pay each time I visit?” One woman holding her baby by her side asked Taiwo, the lines on her face creased from anger. ”I am not going to pay, and you must attend to me.”

Taiwo probably saw that she was a trouble maker and allowed her go. She returned her attention to the black polythene bag in front of her. She wrapped it carefully and patted it before dropping it on the table. The polythene bag contained the money the PHC had made for the day from illegal sales of gloves.


At the point of immunisation, my sister presented the gloves, the one she got from the PHC on a previous visit, to the nurse on seat. The nurse collected it and wore it over about four other ones she was already wearing. The immunisation didn’t last more than five minutes.

But why do Ado-Langbasa Community Health Center staff compel parents to buy gloves from them? While at the centre, I observed that a parent walked in almost every three minutes, and an average of 12 children were immunised in one hour. This means they can make N1,200 in an hour, and N9,600 in a day. This will add up to N48,000 in one week and N192,000 in a month. Isn’t that a nice sum to share among themselves every month?

This report was produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation

Published 30th Jun, 2022

By Opeyemi Lawal


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