Tashan Jirgi is a fishing community in Kwata ward in Wushishi Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State. The community has a new health facility, built by the member representing Wushishi LGA in the Federal House of Representative in 2020. However, for over a year since it was built, the facility has been under lock and key as Wushishi LGA has not deployed health workers to operate it.
Hausi Ya’u, a resident of Tashan Jirgi is nine months pregnant and will give birth any time now . She must be transported on a canoe to Wushishi town in order get attended to by skilled health workers in Wushishi General Hospital. ‘’I’m pregnant and feeling serious pain, I must travel all the way from Tashan Jirgi to Wushishi. The journey from Tashan Jirgi to Wushishi is a long distance and is very dangerous that we must cross a river with aid of a canoe. There are no health workers in our hospital’’, she said, while sitting on a canoe in obvious pain.
The Community Leader, Umar Danladi Musa said that the facility was built over a year ago, but still the government is yet to employ health workers to provide services to the people. He lamented that people in the community encounter accidents when crossing the river that links them to Wushishi, especially during the rainy season and the weather is windy.
Not reaching a health facility in time is the second delay in the three delays model leading to maternal mortality during pregnancy and delivery. Ya’u and other women in Tashan Jirgi should not have to experience the harsh reality of crossing a river in order to give birth with the assistance of a skilled health professional. What use is a health facility without health workers?
Given the critical role of primary healthcare, ensuring they are fully operational should be a top priority for every LGA. Better oversight of Constituency Projects, like the building of primary healthcare centres is critical, to ensure that resources allocated and used to build them are optimally used to benefit the local community. One of the objectives of the recently developed National Policy and Strategic Framework for Community Health, 2021 (NPSFCH) is to “promote inclusiveness, accountability, and financing sustainability of community health services”.
Wushishi LGA should urgently recruit and deploy health workers to Tashan Jirgi, so that lives of women such as Ya’u will not continue to be endangered on the journey to give birth. In addition to ensuring that the new health centre is fully equipped with the necessary essential medicines to meet the basic healthcare needs of the local community it is supposed to serve.