Pro­vid­ing Qual­ity Health­care for Ru­ral Women

While peo­ple in ur­ban cen­tres worry over lack of choice ameni­ties, in the ru­ral com­mu­nity of Akwu Ukwu in Ide­mili South Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Anam­bra State, the ren­o­va­tion of a com­mu­nity health cen­tre, which is the only ex­ist­ing one in the com­mu­nity by


Akwu Ukwu Pri­mary Health Cen­tre (PHC) is not dif­fer­ent from that of the 189 com­mu­ni­ties of Anam­bra State. Sit­u­ated along the Onit­shaOw­erri fed­eral high­way, the cen­tre just months ago had been di­lap­i­dated. The roofs were leaky, the pa­tients’ beds were squeaky and the mat­tresses worn out.

The Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer, of the PHC, Mrs. Chuk­wu­rah Eucharia, said the cen­tre was so bad that it lost all its clients to pub­lic and pri­vate hos­pi­tals in neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties as in­di­genes pre­ferred to travel long jour­neys to cen­tres be­long­ing to other com­mu­ni­ties than com­ing there. She said the con­di­tion of the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity was made worse be­cause the pri­mary health cen­tre was the only hospi­tal in the com­mu­nity.

She said: “Be­fore Jan­uary, this hospi­tal was in a bad state. We had leaky roof, bro­ken fence and bad floor. Our toi­let was also very bad and we had less fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment to take care of our pa­tients. I felt so bad my­self be­cause I was a chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer in a hospi­tal that could not do any­thing for the peo­ple of the host com­mu­nity who de­pended on us. Our women and chil­dren suf­fered the most dur­ing child birth es­pe­cially as they have to be taken out of the com­mu­nity, some­times at odd hours.” She said mem­bers of the Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter Day Saints came and took a look at the hospi­tal, with a view to not­ing what was needed to give it a face lift and to pro­vide it with mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties.

“They came to us and we listed our prob­lems to them, we didn’t take them se­ri­ously, but soon they came back and started work, and it was a sur­prise to us, be­cause we never ap­plied for it. Since they did this job, we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­flux of pa­tients here. Gone are the days when our peo­ple trav­elled to neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties to ac­cess health­care. Just this month, we have wit­nessed the high­est turnover of de­liv­er­ies, and most of the fa­cil­i­ties now make our work easy,” Chuk­wu­rah said.

THISDAY noted that be­sides re­build­ing and roof­ing the hospi­tal, LDS , which is de­scribed as the char­ity arm of the Church of Lat­ter Day Saints also tiled the en­tire floor of the hospi­tal, pro­vided mod­ern hospi­tal beds, mat­tresses, pil­lows and other fa­cil­i­ties. It also pro­vided drugs and part­nered the com­mu­nity to en­sure pro­vi­sion of wa­ter through the sink­ing of a bore­hole project, and retic­u­la­tion of the wa­ter to en­sure sup­ply at every point, all around the hospi­tal.

Chief Li­nus Aniemeka, a com­mu­nity leader who lives in La­gos ex­pressed his delight about the ren­o­va­tion of the hospi­tal. He told THISDAY that the Akwu Ukwu Town Union in La­gos have had a huge bur­den of ren­o­vat­ing the cen­tre, and had been mak­ing arrangement to­wards it be­fore help came through the church. He said the hap­pi­ness the town union felt from the ren­o­va­tion by the church was the rea­son it quickly ac­cepted to sink the bore­hole as part of its con­tri­bu­tion.

He said: “This place is now a big hospi­tal to us. We are go­ing to tell the La­gos branch what we have seen to­day. We will not fear about where our peo­ple will go to have chil­dren any longer while we are in far away La­gos. The place is now neat and clean and peo­ple have started com­ing again,” he said.

The ren­o­va­tion and hand­ing over of Akwu Ukwu Pri­mary Health Cen­tre, which took place re­cently how­ever evoked ju­bi­la­tion and dancing from women of the com­mu­nity who claimed that they have been at the re­ceiv­ing end of the poor fa­cil­ity at the cen­tre.

Women from the com­mu­nity who gath­ered to wit­ness the hand­ing over of the fa­cil­ity to the com­mu­nity ex­pressed their hap­pi­ness over the ges­ture. One of the women who gave her name as Grace said she had her four grown up chil­dren in the cen­tre, but re­gret­ted that in the past few years, the cen­tre was left to col­lapse to the ex­tent that women and chil­dren who had health needs had to travel to neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties to bear chil­dren.

“We are happy that Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter Day Saint came to our aid again. As for me, I have stopped bear­ing chil­dren, but I may have other health needs that re­quire me to come here. My daugh­ter will also use the cen­tre, and our moth­ers would stop go­ing to other com­mu­ni­ties at odd hours to bear chil­dren. That is the rea­son for the ju­bi­la­tion you see here to­day.”

Chidi Ibeakuzie, the area wel­fare spe­cial­ist of the Church who was on ground to hand the ren­o­vated hospi­tal over to the lead­ers of Akwu Ukwu com­mu­nity said the char­ity arm of the church was moved to come to the aid of mostly women and chil­dren of the com­mu­nity who have to travel to neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties to ac­cess health­care. He said the church has ren­o­vated sev­eral health cen­tres in the three se­na­to­rial zones of the state, cut­ting across most com­mu­ni­ties in the state.

“The LDS Char­i­ties is the char­ity arm of our church, and we have peo­ple from all over the world do­nat­ing funds to take care of peo­ple in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, and our job is to go about putting smiles on the faces of these peo­ple. In the case of this cen­tre, this struc­ture you see to­day was to­tally di­lap­i­dated, the roof was leaky, they had no good beds for pa­tients and they lacked drugs too and other fa­cil­i­ties.”

Ibeakuzie said his or­gan­i­sa­tion has done projects in Ebenebe in Awka North Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Nk­por in Ide­mili North, Nri in Anaocha, and sev­eral other ru­ral ar­eas in Anam­bra and be­yond. He re­fused to put a price tag to how much it cost the or­gan­i­sa­tion to fix the hospi­tal, say­ing that what is para­mount to them was that the peo­ple were happy over the ges­ture and ready to make good use of the place.

He stated that health­care was a car­di­nal need of mankind, but re­gret­ted that peo­ple who live in ru­ral ar­eas have long been de­nied this, leav­ing them at the mercy of quacks and al­ter­na­tive medicine. He said his dis­cov­ery showed that there were no hos­pi­tals in the sur­round­ing, so peo­ple who had health­care needs, needed to be mo­bile or be buoy­ant enough to hire cars to neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties. In the ab­sence of that he noted that peo­ple had to go to chemist shop at­ten­dants who they re­garded as medical doc­tors, and ac­cepted what­ever med­i­ca­tion they got from them.

With the hand­ing over of the hospi­tal to the com­mu­nity, Ibeakuzie ex­pressed hap­pi­ness that mem­bers of the com­mu­nity can now ac­cess qual­ity health­care, with­out hav­ing to travel out of their com­mu­ni­ties. He urged them to put the hospi­tal and all equip­ment do­nated, to proper use.

Of­fi­cials of the church hand­ing over drugs to man­age­ment of the hospi­tal

Mod­ern hospi­tal bed do­nated to the cen­tre

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