Maternal and Child Health Clinic (MCH) Gwada is the only government owned primary health centre (PHC) in Gwada community of Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State. MCH Gwada was designed to provide maternal and child health services to this and other neighbouring communities. But, owing to the consistent lack of antenatal medications and family planning commodities, the health facility is not able to perform its primary function effectively.
According to Helen Augustine, the officer-in-charge of the facility, as a result of the shortage in medicine and commodities, most women who attend MCH Gwada do not receive the care they need. "Previously, we used to carry out house to house sensitisation before women would visit the facility for family planning services. Now women come for the services without any mobilisation, but the commodities are not available". She noted that the inadequacy might discourage women from coming for the commodities which will contribute to them having unplanned pregnancies.
Fatima Abdullahi is a community member who visited the PHC for to access family planning services. She however had to return home without accessing them as the commodities were not available. Abdullahi said that this was a frequent occurrence, and many other women in the community faced the same challenge.
Sa'adatu Yerima was also on a routine antenatal visit to the health facility and like Abdullahi, she had to return home without the necessary medication as the health facility was out of stock. "Most times they prescribe the drugs for us, and we must buy them outside. If we don't have money, we must go on like that without taking our antenatal drugs", she said.
In addition to these frequent stock outs, MCH Gwada is also grappling with the challenge of broken-down infrastructure: the floor of the facility is worn and full of cracks, and the beds and other equipment are also in bad shape.
Nigeria's maternal mortality indices are very poor and access to routine antenatal medications is one of the effective ways to improve the wellbeing of both the mother and her baby. Additionally, access to family planning commodities gives women the opportunity to prevent unplanned pregnancies, giving them more time for themselves and their families.
Gwada community members are therefore calling for the following:
Officials of Shiroro Local Government Area and the government of Niger State should ensure regular stock up of antenatal medications and family planning commodities in MCH Gwada.
Urgent rehabilitation of MCH Gwada, including provision of new equipment like beds and mattresses, among others.