Travails of the Past: A Community’s Struggle for Basic Healthcare
It started like any other day for Obong Simon Etukudo and his wife, Eno, residing in Ewet Offot, Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The couple had headed to their farm, situated several kilometers away from their home, early in the morning.
Midway through their day’s work, they received a phone call to return home. Ekemini, their three-year-old daughter, had developed fever and rashes around her neck and eyes shortly after they left for the farm.
“It’s a long distance to the nearest hospital,” Obong Etukudo says. “But I thank God that the primary healthcare center in our community is back in operation. It would have been very difficult to treat my daughter.
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For years, communities like Ewet Offot have faced the grim reality of dilapidated health centers and insufficient medical services. Obong Etukudo recalls the challenges his family faced in accessing healthcare, stating, “In the past years, the government had forgotten this community, the health center was dilapidated, and the services were poor.”
Ndarake Tom, another resident, laments the decline in services at the Wellington Bassey Way health center, highlighting the desperate search for alternative treatments due to medication shortages. She, however, praised the renewed initiative by the government to fix primary health centers across the state, noting that it would improve healthcare delivery in the grassroots.
Ndepmmong Uwem, a mother of four, shares her contrasting experiences at the Wellington Bassey Way Health Centre during childbirth. She notes the stark difference between the well-equipped facilities in the past and the deteriorated state it reached, forcing her to seek assistance at a distant general hospital in Anua Offot.
“When I was pregnant with my first child, it was a great experience, and the primary health center on Wellington Bassey Way was the place to be,” she recalled.
“I stopped going to the traditional birth attendant because the center provided us quality services. The birth process was smooth, and I kept up with routine immunization as my child grew. At the time my third child was born, the center was a shadow of itself; there was no nurse to attend to you, no drugs, and I had to look for the nearest general hospital, which was 10 miles away.
The various accounts describe the extent to which the primary healthcare system had degenerated, as well as the impact on maternal and child mortality in the state. However, this is gradually changing as the signs become more visible.
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