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Only One Third of 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centre’s Functional, Says Mamora

Only One Third of 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centre’s Functional, Says Mamora

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said an audit carried out by the Federal Ministry of Heath showed only one-third of about 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the country were functional. Mamora said the health facilities, especially PHCs, were inadequately funded.

The minister disclosed these yesterday in Abuja during a public hearing on five bills, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions.

The bills were: A bill for an Act to establish Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki; A bill for an Act to repeal Federal School of Medical Laboratory and Technology; A bill for an Act to establish Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Amagu, Ikwo, Ebonyi; A bill for an Act to Provide for establishment of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Science and a bill for an Act to establish Federal Medical Centre, Bonny, Rivers State.

The minister pointed out that whenever an establishment bill was proposed, there should be a comprehensive way of funding such institutions.

He added, “By virtue of my own background in the legislature, there are concerns that we cannot shy away from and which I’m also here to present on behalf the ministry.
“First, I do know that hasn’t changed, that every bill that is presented is supposed to be accompanied by a financial compendium.”

The minister explained that a financial compendium was to give an outlay of the cost implementation of the bill if it becomes a law or an Act of the National Assembly.

Mamora stated, “We also need to emphasise that it is not just putting structures, the physical structure on ground, that is the problem or putting equipment or machinery on ground, because the hood does not make the monk. You also need the human resource for health and that’s probably the most critical.”

He added that in the recent past the federal government had problems with various health unions under Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) due to financing.
Mamora explained, “The health institutions are groaning under the pains of inadequate funding. And even when you have equipment on ground, you need human beings appropriately qualified and in the right number to make these things work.”

The minister stressed that the various institutions, including the Federal Medical Centres, Teaching Hospitals, and even the primary health centres in the communities were being poorly funded.

He added, “Trust you to know that at the last audit, the Ministry of Health carried out, out of about 30,000 Primary Health Centres in that audit report that we have, less than one-third are functional and even those ones are not fully functional.

“Functionality is not just by building the physical structure. I just mentioned that you need the services; you need potable water, you need renewable energy, you need a means of transportation so that whatever case that cannot be handled at that level (primary) would be easily moved to higher centres.”

Mamora noted that at the medical school they were told that common things occured commonly, saying that is why malaria still remains the highest cause of mortality and morbidity in the country, killing more than HIV and COVID-19.

He also said, “Unfortunately, most of the cases can be managed at the primary healthcare level. If only these Primary Health Centres are functional and able to offer the basic services. They have the appropriate drugs, basic services, immunisation, antenatal care, health education, nutritional education, the wash programme, water sanitation, and hygiene. These are the services that are needed by the bulk of our people.

“And 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 rural areas. And our first port of call is the existing facility – the Primary Health Centre that they could easily approach.”

However, dissatisfied with the minister’s views, one of the sponsors of the bills, Hon. Chinedu Ogar, said there were states that had three federal health agencies, saying they are only asking for one federal health institution in Ebonyi State. Ogar alleged that there was no general hospital in Ebonyi State. He said the bill was necessary to tackle the health issues facing the people of the state.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Pascal Chigozie, said the minister did not run down any of the bills.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Ministry of Finance, Head of Service, Director General of Budget, and the Ministry of Health to urgently grant financial cover, as well as a waiver on incidental costs of replacement of resigned and retrenched health workers at the Federal Medical Colleges, Federal Hospitals, as well as Teaching Hospitals and Centres.

The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary on Thursday by Hon. Kingsley Unu.

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