16th October, 2018
Dr Beta Edu, the Director-General, Cross River Primary Health Care Development Agency, has appealed to the Federal Government to release the Basic Health Care Provision Fund to help sustain health centres in rural areas across the federation.
Edu made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday at Ito, Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.
The community is one of the 469 hard to reach areas of the state where the agency conducted renovation of a health centre in 72 hours under its make-over programme.
He said the health centre in Ito community of Odukpani was one of the first selected centres for the 72 hours make-over programme executed by the agency.
Edu said under the PHC revitalisation programme in Cross River, they were identifying those facilities that were in the worst state; one per local government area to fix and ensure that they were up and running.
However, the director-general assured that the agency would continue to fund the health centres in the state through the Ayade Care, Health Insurance Scheme until the federal government released the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
“In all honesty, I had never been here but when I saw the pictures of this place and compared it to other pictures that came from Odukpani LGA, this is the worst. So, we decided to upgrade it for better services to the people of the community.
“We have assessed the communities and found out that over 10,000 people live here, from Ibo Ito, Edem Ito, Ito Central all the way to Arochukwu in Abia State and there is no PHC.
“We have talked to the traditional ruler about security because it would be useless to upgrade this facility without protecting it; they must take ownership and secure it while we write to the council headquarters for security and labourers to support them here.
“We have two staff working here for now; one just retired but we are trying to extend her service until we conclude the employment process.
“Most people posted to this place ran away, so, l have spoken to the chief to get us people who are ready to work and live here.
“Cross River has over 469 hard to reach areas; that is our terrain, there is nothing we can do about it but to encourage health workers to come and live here and offer services,’’ she said.
In his remarks, the Obong of Ito, Edet Ebita, thanked the state government for the renovation, pledging that the community will ensure the refurbished centre was duly protected.
“I have mentioned categorically that it is our property, we are going to take care of it; we are going to set up a vigilante group to secure the centre while we wait for the government to send us security as they promised.
“We are also now going to plan to see how we can put in some money, in fact we have to put this health centre in the budget of whatever we are doing in this community,’’ he said.
On her part, the only Community Health Worker in the area, Mrs Blessing Ntiero-Ita, said the renovation of the health facility would boost healthcare delivery in the community.
According to her, patients are psychologically healed immediately they see that the health facility is in a good state.
“We have been working hand-in-hand with traditional birth attendants because most of them have been trained and certified to practice by the state government; they send the number and names of births to me which I collate and send as data to the state.
“I want to plead with the state government to employ more health workers so that a facility would have between three to five health workers at least,’’ she said.
A resident in Ito community, Elder Daniel Daniel, said many young people in the community used to come to the facility to access healthcare until the centre was left without drugs.
“So, they all travelled to the general hospital at Arochukwu in Abia,’’ he said.
According to him, the youths are very glad when the agency came to refurbish the centre, many of them volunteered to work because they said all they wanted was the development of the community.
The community shares boundary with Arochukwu in Abia and is one of the over 469 hard to reach areas of Cross River with no access roads and potable water.