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Challenging health conditions in Kastina
If anything at all, health situation in Nigeria is what some doctors would describe as a state of emergency. And viewed against a statement once credited to former Health Minister, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, who said that Nigerians hospitals were – and are probably still – killing patients, the doctor could not have been wrong. With its might, if the Federal Government cannot be on top of challenging basic necessities of life such as the provision of health care, it means the situation could be critically daring in states. The people at the grassroot suffer from ailments ranging from water-borne diseases, to malaria fever and high fever, typhoid fever, cholera, VVF, hygienic-related illnesses, among others.
Although Katsina State has a high literate population, it is classified as being among the rural states. From the above situation, it is apparent that surmounting the challenges of health care provision is really going to take a political will.
As a rural state, with equally large rural setting, health facilities are mostly located in the city centres of Katsina, Danmusa, Daura, Mani, Musawa, Malumfashi, Baure, Babbar Ruga, Rimi, Jibia , Kurfi, Ingawa, among others. We in Jibia can tell the story much better because we know how much we are feeling the pain. The Shema-led administration is very much aware of this enormous distance problem as a result of the locations of the major hospitals. As a result of this, there is an attempt to close this gap, given the heavy investments geared towards addressing rural health needs. A whopping 1.9 billion naira was reportedly invested in constructing and equipping primary health centres in the rural areas. Besides, rural roads had been constructed to ease passage of sick people to the cities, especially those with emergency cases from the rural areas.
Many people have been killed by mosquito-induced high fever and malaria, while poor sanitary condition has also claimed scores of lives. The state is among other states still contending with water scarcity. All these put together lead to vulnerability in the health sector. Governor Ibrahim Shema, since coming to power in 2007, has been putting these pressing needs under check with the rehabilitation of general hospitals, procurement of drugs and other health consumables, and improved hygienic conditions of the people by constructing VIP latrines in the rural areas.
One of the problems bedevilling health care is acute water shortage. Again jibia is worst hit because that is where I live.
Water shortage also has its multiplier effects in terms of its inplications on lives and the endless man-hour spent searching for it. For example, my people in Jibia travel all the way to neighbouring border towns to fetch impure water during the dry season. We are beneficiaries of the 171 boreholes that have been completed by the Shema-led administration to reduce the problem. I am aware that other areas like ours have equally benefitted. This is a welcome intervention.
Shema has admitted that the provision of infrastructure, among them health facilities in the state, have been a herculean task, due to the financial resources at his disposal. It is, however, interesting and reassuring that more can be done if the priority to this all-important sector is sustained and as a result of this priority, foreign aides have been trickling in.
Given the rate malaria is ravaging the rural populace, drugs worth millions of Naira to fight malaria scourge are always being supplied to all the health care facilities in the state. So far, 33,330 mosquito nets have been given free to rural people, as 58 maternal and child clinics as well as 12 dispensaries are currently functioning.
Rural area is poverty and poverty is rural. Sure in Nigeria, nobody can dispute that. As it has been earlier pointed out above, the Federal Government which has more financial muscle than the states, has a gory story to tell about its health care delivery. This implies states cannot fare better because of the high demands from different sectors. There is more demand from the health sector, given the fact that issues of health can never be relegated to the background. So, whatever funds deployed in the direction of health care delivery cannot be said to be a waste.
For a government that has in the last three and a half years prioritised health, all that is needed is encouragement. This may be responsible for the presence of foreign health stakeholders in Katsina State, which has made the government to dole out a counterpart fund to the tune of about N2 billion naira. This has in a way created opportinuty for the government to look at other areas needing serious affention. It has led to the provision of new facilities in Danmusa, Musawa, Daura, Mani, Dutsinma, Funtua, Malumfashi, Baure and Rimi general hospitals.
The success of any medical delivery depends largely on the availability of highly skilled and resourceful manpower. Katsina State is also being challenged by the phenomenon of brain drain. It is common to hear that patients spend more time than necessary to see doctors as it cannot get all the doctors it needs. Shema is currently mitigating this as 217 indigenes of the state are studying medicine on government sponsorship in tertiary institutions within and outside the country. Meanwhile, 25 consultants specialists, and other supporting personnel have been hired.
One of the problems this country encounters that still reverberates at the state level is the egocentric trip of governors. Specifically, we are talking about lack of continuity with leadership. With the kind of opposition in Katsina State now raging against Shema, it can be guessed that his sustained efforts at taking the state to the next level in terms of health care delivery could be set aside. Shema has refused to allow political consideration to becloud his sense of judgement, as he has and is stiil continuing with some health schemes left behind by his predecessor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
The lawyer-governor has demonstrated the political will to reduce the people’s health burden in the face of a lean financial base, and for this step I think Katsina people would do better, if they allow him to have a second term. We do not know who will come next, and in view of some problems that may emanate from lack of continuity fact highlighted above, it looks safer to stick to Shema as far as health delivery is concerned in Katsina State, for it is said that it is better to stay with the devil you know that the saint you do not know.
Jibia wrote in from Jibia, Katsina State.Share