For decades, residents of Kpaduma community have suffered untold hardship accessing healthcare and many have died from preventable diseases. Rotary Club of Abuja, District 9125, recently had a ground breaking ceremony to build a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the community. REGINA OTOKPA reports
“After two children, my husband and I resolved to put an end to child birth. Not because we didn’t want more or due to scarce resources, but because of the stress of accessing healthcare.
“Pregnancy for me comes with all sorts of ailments and issues. Many women in this community have died due to pregnancy related complications of which they would have survived if we had a health facility at our disposal.”
Those were the words of Mrs Frina Joe, a resident of Kpaduma community in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, Federal Capital Territory.
She, like many other women of reproductive age in the community, have suffered immensely right from childhood till date due to the total absence of healthcare facility. Ironically, Kpaduma, a rural enclave in the middle of the highbrow Asokoro District of Abuja does not just lack healthcare facility, its residents have no access to potable water and power supply amongst other challenges.
Three years after INSIDE ABUJA’s last visit, nothing seems to have changed. The Kpaduma chiefdom comprising seven communities and over 10,000 residents, have continued to be forgotten and abandoned by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration. Sadly, a number of the resi dents; women, men and children, have died due to lack of timely access to healthcare, including the chief of the community, who recently passed on.
The figures, especially the maternal mortality rate, increased during the recent lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it will cost N200 riding on a motorcycle to access the nearest public hospitals which happens to be Asokoro or Karu General hospital, it costs as high as N2,000 and more conveying emergency cases to these same hospitals in a taxi cab.
According to Frina, the absence of a health care facility has affected pregnant women the most. Due to the distance and limited resources, majority of the women do not register for antenatal care at the closest public hospitals.
Unfortunately, when women under this category develop complications, getting care at the hospitals becomes pretty difficult, most times leading to preventable deaths. To make matters worse, there are no skilled Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), to take delivery of new babies in the community.
“Sometimes, before we get to Asokoro General Hospital, either the child, the mother or both may have died. Also, a lot of women are rejected at Asokoro because they didn’t register for antenatal with the hospital. Majority of the women do not have money for transport. So, they carry out their antenatal at the chemists we have around,” Frina lamented.
INSIDE ABUJA checks however uncovered that majority of these patent medicine stores commonly known as chemists, are not certified to provide quality health care. To worsen the situation, they only refer patients to hospitals when a complication goes out of hand.
By implication, the lives of the residents are in jeopardy. Given the location and peculiar situation of the community, confronted
with poverty and a high rate of crime, these residents are at the mercy of patent medicine dealers and may just be exposed to wrong drug prescriptions and treatments.
Disturbed over this ugly trend, Elizabeth Itodo, another resident of the community, appealed to the FCTA and relevant agencies to monitor and regulate operations of patent stores in Kpaduma, in order to flush out the quacks and safe guard the lives of the residents. “Drug agents should visit all communities because some chemists are quack.
Even when they know there’s a complication in delivery, rather than refer you immediately to hospitals, they keep you till your situation gets out of hand. The painful part is when you eventually get to the hospital, there’s a high tendency of being rejected,” she said.
Fortunately, the narrative is about to change, as Rotary Club of Abuja, District 9125, recently carried out the ground breaking ceremony for a primary health care centre strategically located at Kpaduma 3, for easy access by the seven communities in the Chiefdom. Excited about what she described as “a life changing project,” the District Governor, Jumoke Bamigboye, noted that the intervention falls within Rotary’s area of focus on disease treatment and prevention.
Bamogboye recalled that she was completely shocked the first time she heard Kpaduma did not have a healthcare facility.
She said she couldn’t stop thinking about the many health issues and the devastative effects it must have had on the residents especially pregnant women, and the community as a whole. According to her, the PHC which might come along with potable water, would bring succour, better health and employment opportunities to the community whose cries have gone unheard for
conso many decades. “They don’t have any medical facility and need to travel. I am also worried about women have to travel that far to Asokoro to deliver their babies. We are seeing how we can give them water to go along with this.
“This health facility we are bringing to them will reduce the high cases of maternal and child mortality here and also impact meaningfully on the community by way of employment. We will engage the people around here for the non-professional jobs.
“This is one project I am so happy about because we want to embark on projects that will impact on the communities and not just projects for projects’ sake. I am so happy that we thought about this life changing project; it’s actually going to change a lot of lives here and at the end of the day, the community is going to be better off,” she said.
The District Governor, who believes allowing communities to handle projects is the best approach to its sustainability, said an MoU has already been signed to ensure smooth running of the project during and after its completion.
“When a community accepts ownership of a project, it is easy to sustain. We won’t have to look for external people to maintain the place.
When we are done, we will hand over the project to them and they are willing to take it as their own,” Bamigboye said. The women in the community could not hide their excitement at the development. Already, they are counting the time and days when they can begin to enjoy unrestricted and unlimited access to quality health care services within a few kilometres from their homes.
But they may have to wait a little longer, as President Rotary club of Abuja Federal, Dr. Patrick Ezie, has said the project would take at least a year to be completed.
According to him, providing care to about 10,000 persons from seven communities within the Kpaduma geographical zone was a great choice as it means a lot to Rotary whose focus is on humanity. “Each community in Abuja has its peculiar issues. However, during the pandemic lockdown, we reached out to all communities under our jurisdiction.