Nigeria’s Neglected Healthcare: Likpata’s Struggle and the Government’s Responsibility

In Likpata, a rural community nestled in the Kwara state, Nigeria, lies a healthcare centre that tells a heartbreaking tale of government negligence and crumbling infrastructure. The Likpata Primary Healthcare Center, once a symbol of hope and healing, now stands in ruins, its decaying state reflecting years of neglect, insufficient maintenance, and inadequate funding.

Imagine a place that was established over three decades ago with the noble purpose of providing essential healthcare services to the residents, shining like a beacon of light in the community. Sadly, the reality is far from that vision. Today, the healthcare centre is a mere shadow of its former self, with a leaking roof, cracked walls, and outdated, unusable equipment. It’s been eight long years since the centre was last operational, and now it stands as a painful reminder of unmet promises and shattered dreams.

The Likpata Primary Healthcare Center was constructed in 1992 by former Governor Shaaba Lafiagi with the intention of catering to the healthcare needs of over 10,000 residents in the community and the surrounding areas. However, the passing years have revealed a different story, one of abandonment and broken commitments. The government’s failure to prioritise the centre’s maintenance and provision of necessary resources has left the community without a lifeline for their healthcare needs.

This dire situation in Likpata clearly indicates the government’s inability to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concerning universal access to quality healthcare services by 2030. These goals emphasise the importance of maternal and child health, combating infectious diseases, and addressing non-communicable diseases. Regrettably, the neglect suffered by the primary healthcare centre in Likpata highlights the government’s inadequate efforts to achieve these critical goals.

The residents of Likpata are rightfully frustrated and disappointed with the sorry state of their once-vibrant healthcare centre. Hajia Fatima Kudu, a concerned resident, shared her anguish, expressing how they have been left to their own fate, without a proper medical facility to cater to their healthcare needs. The community, particularly pregnant women, are forced to embark on long and costly journeys to the nearest hospital in Lafiagi, often beyond their financial means. The plea from the people is clear: they urgently call upon the government to come to their aid and provide a functional healthcare centre that can genuinely cater to their needs.

The youth of Likpata, represented by Mr Mohammed Kawu-Likpata, lamented the missed opportunities resulting from the dilapidated state of the healthcare centre. They envisioned a thriving medical services hub that would attract healthcare professionals and create employment opportunities for the youth. Sadly, due to the current condition of the centre, their aspirations have turned into despair, leaving the youth jobless and devoid of prospects for a brighter future.

Furthermore, financial barriers have exacerbated the challenges faced by Nigerians in accessing public healthcare services. Many have endured harrowing experiences and struggled to access basic medical care due to the exorbitant costs imposed on them. Money has undeniably become a significant obstacle to healthcare delivery in this region. 

Alhaji Jubrin Mohammed, the village head of Likpata, revealed the unfortunate consequence of this financial burden – lives lost because of the distance to the nearest public health centre and the payment requirement before treatment. This situation discourages many villagers from seeking healthcare due to their limited financial capacity. Consequently, they resort to traditional herbal medicine, which they perceive as cheaper and more accessible, despite the fact that public healthcare should be within reach for the less fortunate.

The plight of Likpata is not an isolated case, as numerous rural communities across Nigeria suffer from the lack of access to basic healthcare services. The government’s failure to provide adequate infrastructure and funding to address this issue is evident. In fact, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights Nigeria as having one of the world’s poorest healthcare systems, with a mere 3.9% of the country’s GDP allocated to healthcare. This falls significantly short of the WHO’s recommended benchmark of 15%.

In 2001, Nigeria hosted the Heads of State of the African Union member states, and the “Abuja Declaration” was made, urging leaders to commit at least 15% of their annual budgets to improve their health sector. However, after twenty-two years, Nigeria has not met this funding benchmark, with the federal government never allocating more than six per cent to the health sector in annual budgets. 

The emphasis on money before attending to patients in most public healthcare centres further dissuades individuals, especially the disadvantaged, from seeking care. This “payment before service” policy creates a perception that public healthcare is out of reach for them. Although the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), introduced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, provided some relief, its limitation to civil servants on the government payroll and a few private organisations remains a hindrance. A comprehensive initiative should encompass all Nigerians, regardless of status, as access to subsidised public healthcare services should not be limited to civil service employees.

The poor in Nigeria today face significant challenges in accessing the public health system due to the evident lack of subsidies available to them. The government appears to have overlooked the importance of prioritising the needs of the less fortunate, leaving them at the receiving end of a broken system. It is imperative for governments at all levels to ensure access to healthcare facilities, enabling the poor and disadvantaged to receive essential healthcare services, just as their fellow citizens do worldwide.

Access to the public health system plays a vital role in determining whether a country is viewed as developed or underdeveloped. The government’s fundamental responsibility is to provide basic healthcare services to its citizens. However, the neglect suffered by the healthcare centre in Likpata clearly indicates the government’s failure to fulfil this duty. The government must prioritise healthcare investment, allocate sufficient resources, and ensure that healthcare services are accessible to all citizens, regardless of location or economic status. By doing so, Nigeria can take significant strides toward improving its people’s overall health and well-being and finally bridge the gap between promises made and promises kept.

Nigeria’s Neglected Healthcare: Likpata’s Struggle and the Government’s Responsibility

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