Improved health is crucial for human existence, survival and progress. This is perhaps the reason the United Nations, which Nigeria is a member, places “Health and Well being” third among the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Federal, state and local governments have different roles to pay to actualise the United Nations’ goal in the health sector. However, some people in Amagunze clan, Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State feel the State Government is not doing enough in this regard.
Radio Nigeria in this special report attributes the feeling to non-functionality and seeming abandonment of two medical facilities in the area.
Amagunze clan used to be a united and populous community in Nkanu East Local Government, Enugu State before the then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani led government divided it into four autonomous communities: Isienu Amagunze, Okeani Amagunze, Onicha-Agu Amagunze and Ohuani Amagunze. Notwithstanding this development, the people still share many things in common, including a secondary school and a cottage hospital. But the cottage hospital, which is a secondary health facility inaugurated in 1987 by a military Governor of the old Anambra State, Group Captain Sampson Emeka Omeruah, appears to have been abandoned.
The situation of the hospital, which is situated right behind Nkanu East Local Government Headquarters, is of serious concern to the people.
One of them, a second republic lawmaker, Chief Sam Edeh, who helped to attract the health facility when he represented the then Nkanu North Constituency in the old Anambra State House of Assembly, is embittered.
“That hospital when it was established was comparable with what we see overseas in terms of equipment and structure. But like you’ve see now the area is over grown with weeds, the fence is collapsing, in fact, the structure vandalised. The doctor will not be there, the nurse will not be there, the place will be locked,” the former lawmaker cried out.
In an interview, the Administrator Enugu State Hospital Management Board, Dr. Okechukwu Ossai, blames the non functionality of the cottage hospital partly on the attitude of health personnel in the facility. “We have gone to Amagunze three times. The first time, my team didn’t meet them, we went back on Tuesday, went there on Wednesday behold that place was locked and we have taken appropriate measure.
“The instruction we have is that if we go to a facility four times and you are not met there and there is no reasonable justification for your absence, we stop your salary temporarily,” Dr. Ossai states. Apart from the cottage hospital, the people of Ohuani Amagunze are also disturbed that a primary health centre initiated in 2009 by the Association of Local Government (ALGON) in Enugu State has been abandoned since 2015.
Chief Callistus Nwatu, Who served as a councillor when the project commenced, appeals for government assistance saying “we don’t have any other hospital, we don’t have any other clinic, so it pains us very much. So I am appealing to government to come to our aid because this thing is going beyond control.”
A woman leader in the community, Mrs. Ukamaka Okolo laments that the absence of a functional medical facility in the community has led to many untimely deaths. “Do you know that most of the women in this community actually give birth at home and even in their farms? The Traditional Home Attendants, they are the best that the community has. “How do you explain that a mother actually needs a cesarean operation to be carried out on her and there is no help from anywhere? This is a cry from Amagunze, we are actually dying, we need help there,” Mrs. Okolo begs the government.
A former President General, Ohuani Amagunze, Ozo Francis Nnamani says previous efforts to draw government attention to the uncompleted health facility were futile. “I saw this project in this form and I wrote to the then Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sam Ngwu. He came and he promised us that some will be done but no good result was achieved. “Visit Every Community (VEC) project came here as well and this health centre was among the pressing project we itemised. They promised us that they would definitely do something and nothing has been done as well,” Ozo Nnamani narrates.
The Executive Secretary, Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. George Ugwu, explains that the priority of the government is to reactivate existing health centres. “We are now interested in revitalising and making more functional the existing ones. We have five hundred and eighteen primary healthcare centres. In each local government, at least three will be revitalised to make sure they it is standardised, health workers are there, basic facilities are there. But we will do it in a phase manner: we have selected one in every ward for revitalisation,” Dr. Ugwu clarifies. Dr. Ugwu encourages community, which have no health centre to build one with the assurance that the State Government will take it over and make it functional.