Bisola (not real name), a young mother of three, has lived in Akufo, a town in Oyo State, all her life. She nearly died when she gave birth to her last born on a Sunday two years ago as she had to be taken to Adeoyo State Hospital, about 30 kilometres away. The situation was further worsened by terrible road conditions and scarcity of taxis.
For her, each childbirth is a story of pain, cries, and disappointment. Each birth reminds her of the Primary Healthcare (PHC) Centre which is only a couple of blocks away from her house but has been grossly underused and later abandoned for years. Today, the facility lies in ruins and has been occupied by thick growth of bushes, wasps and, above all, goats.
The rehabilitation of the thirty-year-old centre is one of the numerous projects, kick-started in 2008, under the Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS). Oyo State government, in collaboration with the federal government, refurbished the PHC centre and provided two additional structures, complete with laboratories, equipment and a generator.
The CGS was birthed with a 2005 pledge to the Paris Club of Debtors in which Nigeria committed to spending Debt Relief Gains of $1 billion on pro-poor projects and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In 2008, according to a statement released by the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, the scheme’s focus was on health, water and youth empowerment. Also, state governments were engaged to foster an understanding of local priorities and were required to provide counterpart funding to amplify the impact. That year, Oyo State received N1.8 billion from the federal fund.
A group of civil society actors who paid Akufo a visit in June 2017, however, discovered that the health centre has been left unused, and was deteriorating fast. The ceiling was already sagging, the sickbeds were threadbare, the reception desk was crowded with old documents, and nearly everywhere was covered in dust and cobwebs.
Hammed Olabamiji Thomas, the Alakufo (traditional ruler) of Akufo, during an interview with The ICIR, called on the government to salvage what is left of the of decaying health centre on which it spent a lot of money. He was surprised that despite the amount invested by the government, no medical experts were assigned to manage the centre.
If anyone was sick or pregnant, the person would have to be taken to Apete, Ologun-eru, Eleyele, University College Hospital Ibadan, or Adeoyo State Hospital — each, several kilometres away.
“I wrote to the University College Hospital and they replied that they will begin using the centre,” he recalled.
Alakufo said he gave a copy of the hospital’s response to the Local Government Chairman, who promised to support.
Micheal Egbedi, a Christian missionary who was transferred from Abeokuta, Ogun State, to Akufo in March 2017, also expressed disappointment at the neglect of the centre.
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