VMT News Ltd
No 1 News Site in Nigeria

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

177

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

By Charles Akpeji, Jalingo 

The pursuit of achieving universal health coverage in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is no doubt facing significant challenges in Taraba state.

Our state correspondent observed a concerning trend of neglect towards Primary Health Care Centers (PHCs) scattered across communities, leading to a surge in the popularity of herbal remedies as patients seek alternatives to address their healthcare needs.

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

Investigations conducted in selected PHCs across three, out of the sixteen local government councils in the state have unveiled distressing conditions characterized by dilapidated structures, scarce resources, staffing shortages, and essential drug supply issues. 

This neglect has forced patients to turn to herbal treatments, exacerbating the challenges faced by the healthcare system.

Communities such as Pamanga, Borno-Krukru, Kankani, Garin-Jatau, Lagos Buban, Wasaji, Fada, among others, have witnessed a growing reliance on herbal remedies due to dissatisfaction with PHCs. 

Residents lament the absence of qualified medical personnel in PHCs, relying primarily on Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) and practical students. 

The lack of essential medical equipment and facilities has compromised the quality of healthcare services, pushing patients towards herbal alternatives.

Sharing their experiences, residents emphasize instances where herbal practitioners have saved lives in the absence of adequate healthcare facilities. 

A resident of Garin-Jatau community, Hadizat Bello, highlighted how herbal practitioners intervened effectively, citing a recent snake bite incident in her community.

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

“When one of our community members was recently bitten by a poisonous snake, facilities to rescue the patient were not available in our PHC, but thank God for our traditional healer who used his wealth of experience to rescue him.” Stated Hadizat. 

Citing several instances where the Garin-Jatau PHC had allegedly failed the community, Hadizat who went ahead 

lamenting the deplorable state of the PHC, in her community, confessed that herbal homes have taken over the responsibilities of health workers in the community, stating that it is essential to prevent a further decline in community confidence in government hospitals.

Aligning with Hadizat, a primary school teacher, Hamza Usmanu, expressed dissatisfaction with the PHC’s alleged inadequacies and praised the reliability of herbal medicine practitioners in the community.stating that “the herbal medicine practitioners in this our community, are more reliable than our so called health workers”.

Given an instance where one of his pupils fainted in the classroom, he expressed sadness that he couldn’t be attended to by the health workers due to lack of medical equipment and experts in the PHC.

“Had it not been for the swift intervention of the herbal medicine man, I wondered what could have been the fate of the child because when we rushed him to our PHC, the workers were all confused and not knowing what to do simply because they lacked the necessary medical materials.”

The teacher and other residents from the community in question lament the absence of qualified medical personnel in PHCs, relying primarily on Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) and practical students

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

According to him “patients are now fast recovering from ailments, following the swift interventions of our traditional healers who have been using their wealth of experience to assist our people.”

Also speaking,  Angelina Emeka, who took her time to reel out the challenges bedeviling the PHC facility in Borno-Krukru, said the activities of traditional healers have brought treatment closed to the people of the community.

Narrating how a patient with a swollen body was made whole by the traditional medicine man in the community, the situation, she believed will have been worsened if left in the hands of health workers managing the facility.

Alleging that the lukewarm attitudes of the government contribute to the interest in herbal homes, as traditional healers find increased daily patronage, impacting the livelihoods of medical personnel, the need for the incumbent administration in the state, to make health one of its major priorities, she believed has become necessary.

Health workers, speaking from all the facilities visited, unanimously revealed the challenges they are facing, the situation which they accept, often compelled them to refer patients to herbal homes due to lack of equipment and the distance to referral hospitals.  

Blaming past administrations for PHC infrastructural inadequacies in the state, they beckoned at the incumbent administration, under the leadership of  governor Agbu Kefas, to prioritize the health sector.

They criticized the legacy of the former governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, for contributing to the power imbalance in rural healthcare across the state.

Attesting to the fact that communities are now taking advantage of the herbal medicines,  some of the herbal practitioners who spoke with our reporter, admitted that their homes are now beehives of activities.

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

Mallam Kundiri Abba, who claimed that his herbal home played host to no fewer than fifty patients weekly, said the alleged inability to the government hospital in the community to meet up with their responsibilities, necessitated the surge.

“Majority of our people have more trust and confidence in us then in the government hospitals not because our services are affordable, but because it is more efficient and reliable.”

Reeling out the list of those he had saved from untimely deaths due to various ailments,, the reverse, as made known by him, would have been the case “if the patients have been left in the hands of those working in this so called health facility. “

Abba, who spoke in Hausa via an interpreter, believed that traditional healers in the  state and the country at large, will perform better if given the much desired attention by the relevant authorities. 

Throwing his weight to that of his colleague, Mallam Na’Allah Maikudi, who said he had been in the profession for over fifteen years, also confirmed that health workers in Kankani facilities “often referred cases that are above them to some of us”.

Adding that “and I must confess to you that Allah (God) has been seeing us through because the patients always return back to their homes healthy.”

Maikudi, who is also called for collaboration with the government, said 

“personally,  our health workers here and myself have been working in collaboration, and our collaboration has been yielding positive results.”

Like his counterparts, he argued that the situation and collaboration will be effective if the present administration deemed it necessary to recognize the roles of traditional medicine practitioners in the state and the country as a whole. 

Community members and healthcare workers alike who called on the government to address the infrastructural inadequacies of PHCs and prioritize the health sector, were also of view that collaboration between traditional healers and healthcare workers should be seen as a practical solution to bridge the gap in healthcare services in Taraba.

Neglect of Primary Health Care Centers in Taraba Pushes Patients Towards Herbal Remedies

 They also pleaded for the recognition and support of traditional medicine practitioners to improve overall healthcare delivery in the state.

As patients increasingly turn to herbal remedies amidst the neglect of PHCs, the in the state, top government officials believed that there is hope that the present administration will prioritize the health sector’s shortcomings and regain community trust in government healthcare. 

Rectifying the infrastructural deficiencies and fostering collaboration between traditional healers and healthcare professionals, a former executive secretary of one of the local government council who craved anonymity, believed, are crucial steps towards achieving universal health coverage in Taraba state.

Hope, according to the former executive secretary, lies in the present administration’s commitment to rectify the health sector’s shortcomings and regain community trust in government healthcare.

Apportioning blames to the former administration, the incumbent administration, according to him has began the process of reviving the health sector in the state.

This story was produced with the support of the Frontline Investigative Program and supported by the Africa Data Hub and Orodata Science.

Support Voice Media Trust journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to Voice Media Trust, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate into:

Dollar Account:

  • A/C NO: 3003093745
    A/C NAME: VOICE MEDIA TRUST LTD
    BANK: UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA

Naira Account:

  • A/C NO: 1023717841
    A/C NAME: VOICE  MEDIA TRUST LTD
    BANK: UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA

Leave a Reply