Many primary health centres in Nigeria are famed for poor service delivery but a public-private partnership scheme in Niger State is reversing the trend, according to PUNCH.
They had dreaded meeting nurses at the Senator Idris Ibrahim Kuta Memorial Primary Health Care Centre on Old Airport Road in Chanchaga, Minna, Niger State, before. Now they look forward to it. Like erring individuals appearing before a cranky panel, their hearts raced every time they visited the facility.
Until recently, the couple’s frequent visits to the health center were discouraged by the attitude of the majority of the health workers.
After an antenatal appointment in July 2020, Rasheedatu noticed that the world had changed. Upon leaving, she was astonished at how warmly the health care workers welcomed her and was eager to tell her husband.
Expectedly, Aliyu was amazed by his wife’s account and couldn’t wait to join her on the next appointment a month later to see things himself. He was impressed last August. Nurses who used to fume at any slight provocation had suddenly become friendly.
“We have a changed primary health centre now,” 31-year-old Aliyu said in an encounter with our correspondent at the hospital in June 2021. “Their service is nice and the workers are now friendly, they don’t shout at patients again.”
The couple had visited the hospital that Wednesday to vaccinate their six-month-old baby. Unlike their moody departure three years ago when they brought their first child for the same exercise, they radiated excitement.
“I have been using this hospital for about six years and I gave birth to my first child here,” Rasheedatu said. “It was last year when I came for antenatal that I noticed an improvement in their services and the way they relate with people,” she added gaily.
Nigeria’s public health system and challenges
Nigeria created the National Basic Health Services Scheme to provide PHC services throughout the country in accordance with the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978, which, among other things, identified primary health care as an integral service that should be universally accessible to individuals and families at an affordable cost.
According to the declaration, the PHC model was adopted in 52 local government areas in 1985 by the then Minister of Health, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, and by 1990, it had been expanded to all local government areas. Nigeria launched its first comprehensive national health policy based on PHC in 1988.