How Abandoned Health Centers Endanger Lives Of Citizens In Cross River

In Breaking News, Health, Investigation

By Sylvia Akpan

Every healthcare delivery system requires primary health care. But in this shocking investigation, CrossRiverWatch exposes the deplorable condition of healthcare centers in Cross River State’s Abi Local Government Area.

The gradual collapse of critical healthcare facilities in Cross River State has put the lives of its citizens at risk. Amidst the lush landscapes and bustling communities in the State, primary healthcare centers stand neglected, their once lively presence reduced to rotting shells. This negligence, a glaring reflection of government indifference, places the State on the verge of an imminent health crisis.

In the course of our investigation, our correspondent had taken a deep into the heart of Abi Local Government Area, where primary health centers should serve as beacons of hope for the sick and vulnerable. Unfortunately, what she found was far from reassuring. The reality painted a grim portrait of abandonment and neglect, with every health center she visited struggling to meet even the most basic needs of the people.

READ ALSO: Welcome To Cross River Community Where Child Deliveries Are Done In Pathetic Collapsed Health Center

From Agba Health Post, Adadama Primary Health Center, and Ediba Comprehensive Health Center, Abeugo, the story was the same. As she approached each of what was supposed to offer care to the sick, her heart was racing with apprehension. The dilapidated state of the buildings was immediately evident, with ceilings crumbling like fragile pieces of paper.

At Ediba Primary Health Center, a distraught Health Extension worker, Martina Ekotor showed our correspondent around the dilapidated facility and highlighted the danger lurking within the unkempt structure.

Walking into one of the wards, Martina pointed to a gaping hole close to a ceiling fan that was hanging precariously on its hooks. “One day, a ceiling that was there fell and almost broke my head,” the community health extension officer told CrossRiverWatch. With her eyes drenched in tears, she begged the reporter to document the deplorable condition of the health center with photos and videos.

A Wardroom Of Ediba Comprehensive Health Center In Itigid

As our correspondent walked around to inspect the wards and surrounding spaces at the facility, the silence was broken by a sudden noise from the next room. When the duo rushed to check, they found that a ceiling had just collapsed and several particles of asbestos and bat poop were spreading all over the floor. More than that, the image underscored how urgently the government needed to step in to ensure the facility was fit for purpose.

Abandoned Restroom Found In Ediba Comprehensive Health Center

“Look around, take a look at the ceiling fan. It can fall anytime. One actually fell but I was very lucky it didn’t land on my head,” said Mrs. Ekotor, who kept on nudging our correspondent to take more pictures and record videos of the facility.

“Oh! You are startled by what you have seen? Well, I am used to it. Things keep falling here. We were two community health extension workers here but one has left. I thank God that you have visited here to see things for yourself too because if I had told you, you would not have believed. We have written several letters to the authorities but they fell on deaf ears.

Abandoned delivery bed in Ediba Comprehensive Health Center

“Sometimes, people come from various organizations and give us high hopes as if there will be government intervention. When they leave, you won’t even hear from them again.”

Broken tables occupied by staff records in Ediba Comprehensive Health Center.

At Agba Health Post, community members said they had made relentless efforts to ensure that the facility was renovated including writing to the government. The only thing they got were promises which were never kept. A resident of the community, Ovat Andrew, said the health post has long been abandoned by the government.

“If no one tells you, you would not have known this is a health post. Maybe you were expecting something better but sorry for the disappointment. The state of this health center is bad and I pray it doesn’t collapse on someone someday. As you can see, only lizards, mosquitoes, and cockroaches live here.

“There is a woman who was managing the place but for some days now, I have not seen her. Sometimes I usually help in weeding the surroundings so that it will not be taken over by grasses.”

Another resident, Abigail Moses, said Agba Health Post never had a delivery bed. “I’m not sure if Agba health post has a delivery bed,” she said. Those we talked to all said that women give birth on a mat-padded foam spread on the floor.

CSO Kicks, Calls For Protest

The civil society community in the State is not smiling over the deplorable nature of primary healthcare facilities.

Richard Inoyo, the Country Director of Citizens Solution Network, is deeply troubled by the state of healthcare facilities in various communities, including Akamkpa, Oberekai, Njaye, and Adadama. He spoke out against the government’s neglect, highlighting how their silence perpetuated the belief that these communities had no voice.

“In many places, not just here, the government turns a blind eye to the healthcare needs of its people,” Inoyo explained. “But we have the power to make them listen. We can organize protests in Calabar or use social media to raise awareness about the dire conditions of our primary health centers. When people speak up, governments are forced to take action.”

Ukeme Ekong, another activist, emphasized the importance of using social media to hold the government accountable. “It’s unacceptable for primary healthcare facilities to be abandoned,” she stated firmly. “Health is wealth, and everyone deserves access to quality care. We need to pressure the government to address these issues.”

Ekong highlighted the appalling conditions in local communities, where healthcare services are below standard. “Imagine being treated in a facility with a crumbling roof,” she said. “The government must prioritize fixing these facilities and providing adequate healthcare for all.”

Both activists urged the government to address the gaps in healthcare services identified in reports and take immediate action to improve the situation. Their voices echoed the frustrations of countless individuals who had long suffered from inadequate healthcare.

Why Representatives Should Act Fast

Ekong’s voice rang out with urgency as she stressed the importance of citizen engagement in holding their representatives accountable. “The people have elected officials in the House of Assembly to represent them,” she emphasized. “These representatives shouldn’t just show up for events and make promises. They’re there to advocate for the needs of their constituents, including prioritizing essential services like community health centers in the budget.”

She pointed out the critical role of health facilities, which serve numerous communities in dire need of healthcare access. “Our representatives must allocate funds and push for the improvement of these centers,” Ekong insisted. Adding” “Health financing is essential, and we need to prioritize it in Cross River State.”

Ekong called on the people’s representatives at all levels to hasten feet and arrest the situation. “Our senators and members of the House of Representatives must also take action,” she continued. “They shouldn’t just wear T-shirts and attend events. They need to actively address the issues facing our communities, including healthcare.”

Highlighting the importance of ongoing monitoring and reporting, Ekong stressed the need for community health workers to provide regular updates on healthcare challenges. “We must keep our government informed about the realities on the ground,” she asserted. “We can’t rely solely on external partners; we need to take responsibility for our health system.”

She enjoins not to sit anymore on the fence, noting that citizens have the power in driving change: “We can’t just rely on sensationalism or superficial gestures,” she declared. “We must use social media to hold our government accountable. It’s not about appearances; it’s about ensuring our health centers are functional and our communities are healthy. Health should always be our top priority.”

We Are Aware Of The Facilities State – Government

The State Government has acknowledged the deplorable state of health facilities in the LGA.

The Permanent Secretary of Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, (CRSPHDA) Dr. Etim Ayi told CrossRiverWatch that the challenges faced by the facilities are known to the agency, Officers in Charge, (OIC), and have taken it up.

“As you know this is a new government. The government on ground is so passionate about primary health care because if primary health care is repositioned in the right phase in terms of principles and practice then so many problems in secondary and tertiary health care will be solved. The reason is that approximately 80% of the population benefits directly from primary health care.

“The primary health care system should by right provide the necessary quality health care services in those environs and that is what has come into the minds of Governor, Sen. Bassey Otu.

He said for that to happen, revitalization has to come into play as the facilities, equipment,, human resources, staff employment, and infrastructures need upgrades.

This story was produced for the Frontline Investigative Program and supported by the Africa Data Hub and Orodata Science.

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