How Constant Power Supply Can Transform Healthcare In Galadimawa Community

Galadimawa Primary Health Centre
Much should not be expected from a Primary Health Center (PHC) that started operations in 2017 but considering that it serves a community with over 5000 inhabitants and taking into cognizance that healthcare is indispensable, more should be expected.

But that is not the case for Galadimawa PHC, located in the heart of the Galadimawa community and under the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). Interestingly, the community is less than 10 minutes (and less than 2km) drive from the Airport road and houses the popular Sun City estate. Yet, the PHC is lacking in basic amenities needed to save thousands of lives of patients daily.

What serves as Galadimawa PHC Sign post

A careful examination into the reason behind this reveals lack of access to constant electric power supply as the major reason. Dearth of core medical staff even on a need basis, coupled with lack of motivation for staff who mostly serve on a voluntary basis just to ensure that their patients receive healthcare are some other challenges that causes the PHC to grossly under perform.

Lois Tanko who serves as the Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW) in the facility, revealed that they currently attend to an average of 10-20 patients daily in the facility.

According to Tanko, the facility currently neither has a doctor, midwife, nurse nor pharmacist. Day to day activities are run by a volunteer laboratory technician, two health assistants, two N-Power assistants, a volunteer cleaner and security man.

Almost every activity in a healthcare center can be hinged on access to steady power supply yet this is grossly lacking in the Galadimawa PHC as they are not connected to the National Grid and must rely on rechargeable lamps and torchlights to see at night and residents of the community living close to the health center to obtain hot water for certain sterilization activities.

The health facility got disconnected from the national grid since last year and there haven’t been any significant steps by concerned authorities to resolve this. The impact of this is far reaching.

The facility staff must travel to Apo Primary Healthcare center to access vaccines for patients during immunization because they do not have the infrastructure (electric or solar powered cold chain equipment) to store the vaccines at the suitable temperatures. 

Even the quality of the vaccines cannot be guaranteed because the distance from Apo to Galadimawa is approximately 12km (about 17 minutes’ drive) and this could be extended depending on traffic.

Investigations also revealed that the facility operates only outpatient services and shuts down operations between 6 and 7pm as they do not have the resources to operate a 24-hour shift. This is indeed a dire situation as health emergencies can arise at any time of the day.

However, because of the passion to ensure lives are protected, some staff carries out some emergency services when the need arises at night and to illuminate their work place, they rely on torch light or rechargeable lamps.

Access to steady water is very important to maintain hygienic work environment, minimize risk of hospital acquired infections and contribute to general infection prevention and control (IPC) in health centers. This is grossly lacking too as Galadimawa Primary Health Center’s only source of water supply is from the local water vendors called “Mairuwa”.

The lack of electricity also impacts negatively on diagnosis which is critical in-patient management. The microscope in the laboratory which is very important in the diagnosis of diseases of great public health significance especially malaria is not in use because it requires electricity.

Generally, the facility staff believes the lack of constant power supply negatively impacts their ability to deliver efficient health services to the community they are supposed to serve. On an individual level, they also believe it has significantly reduced their performance and it is the major source of dissatisfaction. This is especially because there are currently no  alternative source of power generation including a generator.

They are very positive that if the power challenge is addressed, there will be significant increase in the number of patient visits to the facility compared to what they currently see. Other areas they believe will be improved with stable power supply are diagnosis, maternal, newborn and child health services.

According to them, “Women will be happy to come and delivery in the nights will increase. Test results like Hepatitis and HIV will be comprehensive and accurate when conducted”.
In addition, “Vaccines will be stored here instead of going to Apo Primary Health Centre to collect and some other laboratory tests will also be accurately carried out here”.

How can their power supply problem be solved? Who will solve it? It is very important to explore all sustainable sources of energy to ensure residents of Galadimawa community are provided quality and affordable healthcare services when needed.