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Mainari Primary Health Care Centre

06.12.2023 Featured REPORTER’s DIARY: Inside Bauchi Health Centre Where Very Sick Official Must Treat Tens of Sick People

Published 6th Dec, 2023

By Opeyemi Lawal

After two hours of riding through deserted farmlands with dry maize and millet stalks, we (my fixer and I) arrived in Mainari, a village in the Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Before Mainari, we had passed a few settlements which boasted of only a few houses. In one of the villages, a man and his children built a fence around their small garden. The younger children uprooted some weeds from the garden while the man and his older children broke dry wood apart to hold the fence together.

Mainari is like every other village in the vicinity: mud houses, thatched roofs, absence of electric poles, dilapidated school buildings and dry farmlands. The village has a primary health care centre (PHC) which has one health official on whose shoulders the health burdens of residents lie.

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The Mainari Primary Health Care Centre sits by the edge of the village in an attention-calling manner. It cannot be ignored as it is the first hint of civilisation in the rural environment. Even though its green and cream paintings were beginning to peel off when I visited, it was a break from the continuous sight of brown mud houses and grey fields.

Mainari Primary Health Care Centre
Mainari Primary Health Care Centre. Photo Credit: Opeyemi Lawal/FIJ

Inside the sprawled primary health care centre which locals said was a gift from Muhammed Ali Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, who also hails from the village, is a community health care worker shouldering the health responsibility of Mainari.

Mamman, who only gave her first name, told FIJ that when she was deployed to the PHC from her home state one year and four months ago, she had no idea she would be everything needed to make a PHC effective.

When we got in, she had just finished administering an injection to a child. She disinfected her hands and sat tiredly before us after her patient and mother exited.

Uncomfortable, she readjusted to fiddle with the pen lying between an account book open in front of her.

Front view of the health centre
Front view of the health centre

“I am the doctor, the cleaner, the accountant, the nurse, the pharmacist, the watchman and everything here. I do all the work, both medical and non-medical,” she told FIJ.

“When I was posted here from Jos in 2022 as a contract staff, I was excited to get to work, but within a few months, the narrative changed, as I became the only health worker at the PHC.

“I would attend to about 20-30 patients on the average every day, except when the cases are complicated and I refer them to the hospital in town.”

The health worker told FIJ that as the only medical practitioner in the PHC, she was forced to be responsible for all medical needs, ailments and conditions, from child deliveries to malaria, typhoid and ulcers.

“I would refer diabetic patients to the General Hospital in Misau because the machine used to do this fasting blood sugar is not operational and we also do not have a standard laboratory here. Also, the lab technician who conducts the test is not around. He has gone to school.

Inside the hospital hall
Inside the hospital hall

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“Here in the PHC, I am all they know. They come in and call me ‘Doctor’, and because I am all they know, I work round the clock every day of the week. There was a time I was sick and was on drips. Patients came around and I was assisted to get out of the bed with the drips to attend to them.”

When FIJ asked if she was the only worker deployed to the PHC, she smiled and said, “The other staff only come when they please. They are permanent staff and come twice or thrice in one week and it is when they feel up to it. They come from outside communities and even Misau.

Empty health centre wards
Empty health centre wards

“Although we have a volunteer for immunisation, she only comes when it is necessary.”

“I have complained and requested that they deploy more manpower, but it has been one empty promise upon another.

“They would tell me that is how the Bauchi State government does. If I am tired, I will just pack my bags and leave because I can’t kill myself.

When FIJ asked Mamman how she manages to power the health centre, she smiled before giving a response. She stated that they rely on solar energy which only supplies power between an hour to two a day.

“There is no shift, off, leave, holidays or anything. I work 24 hours from Sunday to Sunday.”

“There is no light in the community and we power the hospital through solar energy,” she told FIJ.

“Even though the solar is not working well. It can’t last beyond an hour or two. The battery is weak and we have requested a new battery since June.”

Some  of the wards have broken ceilings and a damaged toilet
Some of the wards have broken ceilings and a damaged toilet

Some patients and locals whom we met also confirmed that Mamman is all they know in the PHC.

“The hospital is just a bunch of rubbish, only one female staff resides there. She attends to pregnant women and does everything,” one of them told FIJ.

“It is only blood transfusion they are not doing here. The PHC has been here for a while. It was built by Minister Ali Pate years back and at some point, it was renovated.

“There are five staff in the facility but only a few of them show up at work and this is how we live our lives every day.

“Beyond the hospital, life is a bit difficult as we also use solar-powered water because there is no electricity. To fuel our motorcycles, we go all the way to Tumpure or Zindi which are miles away.

FIJ observed that the hospital halls were empty except for a handful of patients, three mothers with their children and a few men, who were waiting to see their doctor.

Opposite the medical consultation room where Mamman attended to the patients, a middle-aged man lay semi-conscious while another stood by his head trying to speak with him.

We looked around and found that most of the wards were empty. Our footsteps echoed behind us as we went from one ward to the other. Some of the wards had cracked walls, broken ceilings and damaged restrooms. Water from one of the toilets tricked into a yellow ward.

When FIJ contacted Dr. Riliwanu Muh’d, the Executive Director of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, he did not answer his calls. A text message sent to him had also not been responded to at press time.

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Published 6th Dec, 2023

By Opeyemi Lawal

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