INVESTIGATION: Inside Kaduna Neglected Communities Where Over 7,000 People Patronise Health Post
By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Maniya and Madobiya communities are clustered villages in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, with an estimated population of over 7,000 people, who are mostly farmers. Their major farm produce are; Yam and Maize.
The communities are over 60 kilometres distance from the LG headquarters, Zonkwa, with no access to potable water and a motorable road to link them with the headquarters. The only access road to the communities has its link from another LGA, Kaura.
According to the National Population Commission (NPC), 2006 census, women and children represents over 60% of the Nigerian population, this means that over 60% residents in these communities are women and children.
Between the year 2000 and 2010, maternal and child mortality was said to be very high in the two communities because of lack of access to health facilities, including road to the General Hospital at the LG headquarters and total neglect of the people by the government.
This situation prompted some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to swing into action by advocating for government attention and help to save the lives of women and children in the communities.
A single room Health Post at Maniya community also serving as delivery room.
Their prayers were answered when one of their sons who is a Medical Doctor and another woman from a neighbouring community who is a Nurse, based in the UK, prevailed on the LG authorities in 2011, to provide the two communities with a Health Post, where residents run to, whenever they are faced with health challenge.
Investigation revealed that seven years after, the communities are still left with no hope of upgrading the facility as they complained of over stretch of the Health Post, which is a single small room, that also serves as delivery room for pregnant women in the communities.
This is against the World Health Organization’s (WHO), requirement for the establishment of Primary Health Clinic (PHC), which stipulates clearly; “one Clinic per group of villages/neighbourhoods with about 2,000 – 5000 persons”.
It was gathered that the communities at different times made several efforts to see how government could support them in upgrading the facility to a more befitting, quality and service driven centre supplied with drugs to attend to serious ailments rather than just a first aid- like centre.
A mother waiting to be attended to by a Nurse at a Health Post in Maniya Community
The efforts, It was gathered, ended in futility, as government response was in the negative.
The communities acquired a land proposed as the site for the facility and even gone as far as moulding blocks for the project.
When the community reached out to the LG, it was learnt that the people were required to also provide a design for the facility, a task the communities are finding difficult to meet.
They believed that it is the duty of the Primary Healthcare at the LG, to draw designs for such project having gone extra miles to provide land and blocks for the project.
It was also revealed that while waiting for the design, a good Samaritan in Maniya community, provided a six room block building to serve as the health centre, yet the LG, failed to act.
The issue of transportation to the general hospital at the LG headquarters was another serious challenge being faced by the women from the communities as only motorcycles ply the road, which is not safe to carry a sick person or a pregnant woman.
“In 2013, I was in labour and needed to be taken to Zonkwa, general hospital, we have already spent over 40mins looking for an Achaba (commercial motorcycle) to take me to Tum, junction, so we can enter taxi from there to Zonkwa, before you knew it, I have given birth.” 26 years old, Mercy John, a mother of 3 explained.
Road into Maniya community
“Some times when you go to that place (the health post), you will meet plenty people in that small room and if you have any privacy you want to discuss with the nurse, you have to wait for a long time for the number of people to reduce, and if care is not taken, you may end up not been able to prepare food for your family.
“I have to be delivered at home by one old woman in our compound the last time I gave birth because another woman was in labour in that the place (the health post), I just thank God there was no complication and the baby came out smoothly. Apart from that, I don’t have any problem with them.” Lawrencia Francis, 22 years old with a 9 months old baby told our reporter.
Victoria Kajang, a UK based Nurse, (now retired) was part of those who struggled to rescue the communities from the hands of death when maternal and child mortality was very high in the area, prior to government intervention in 2011.
Victoria Kajang, a UK based Nurse who was instrumental to the establishment of the Health Post at Maniya Community.
She said the communities are poor settlements not enjoying what others are getting from the government.
“I have personally been to the Local Government, requesting for improved healthcare system there, but you know, is just like any other thing, you hear this promises and year will not see anything and then there will be change of government.
“You go again that will say, yes will do it, one even came and say show us the land, which we gave them a piece of land, and they requested for a plan and we did, but nothing came out of it.” Mrs Kajang said.
On the reason why life is difficult for women in the communities, she explains, “on transportation, you can not necessarily get means of transport in that place and you know, when labour start any time of day, if we are talking about 2 o’clock in the morning you can not get any vehicle that can take you to a health centre, you can not put a pregnant woman on a motorbike, you hardly get a car owner you can just knock on his doors for help.
“Poverty is another serious thing that affects them, this leads to some other things, one is affordability, they cannot afford to be paying for transportation to a standard healthcare centre every time. Poverty also affect nutrition, they only eat what is available which is mostly carbohydrate, and even ignorance too.
“Even though they have enough vegetables that would have been helpful, they don’t know how to prepare them and there are some taboos that stop them from eating nutritious food that would help, for instance; a young lady is not supposed to eat eggs and we know egg is very nutritious. The believe is that if you eat it, you are eating your own eggs and that is about ignorance and beliefs.”
“And equally, if the baby develops malaria, instead of going to the hospital they find primitive ways of treating him without any dosage which will endanger the child the more. And there is something they do that is very dangerous; they believe that a baby must take plenty medicine, even if the baby is well, once they are bathing the baby, they will just be giving them this medicine and that medicine.”
The communities’ only source of water are wells across the villages and they are as deep as 30 feet.
Because of the current season they are at their bottom, which requires a lot of strength to pull out water.
Though, there are two Hand Pump Boreholes in Maniya provided by an international NGO, they are no longer functional for the past 6 years.
Leaders of the communities could not hide their displeasure with politicians, when they spoke with our reporter, over what they termed, ‘used and dumped’.
According to one of the Ward Heads , Mr. Isuwa Yankut, “they only come to us whenever there is election and when they won, you won’t see them again until the next election year.
“We have tried our best to meet the councillor representing us, but as we speak we have not been able to talk to him. During his campaign, he was always coming to our village, but since he became the councillor, he stop coming.”
On her part, the Director Primary Health Care of Zango Kataf LGA, Mrs. Esther Tanko, who confirmed the plights , especialy, pregnant women , explained that despite the challenges, government does not have any plan on ground to expand or upgrade the facility.
Mrs. Tanko, also acknowledged the fact that the communities have land and blocks in place already for the project, but however said the issue of of upgrade has its criteria, and not for the department to decide.
“For now we have issue of human resource and once that get better we see what we can do. So as it is now we will continue to do outreaches which is also meant to improve their health.” She said.
But when contacted, Deputy Director, State Primary Health Care Development Agency Hamza Ikara, said though the health post was not part of facilities earmarked for upgrade in the 2018 budget, because the LGA didn’t bring it up, but for this enquiry, the agency would look at how to fit it into the 2019 budget.
To this end, Ikara said , a team would be set up to access the status of the facility to enable the agency to take appropriate action.