Indigenes of Ekrota community in Udu LGA of Delta State continue to bemoan their lack of access to quality healthcare in their community.
Findings by Tracka show that the community had a comprehensive health centre project in the 2016 budget with an allocation of N60million, but this project never saw the light of the day.
Members of the community were not even aware of this project until the visit of the Tracka team in August 2016.
The team engaged the leaders and residents of the community in a town hall meeting, and educated them on the provisions of the budget.
Also, letters were written to Honourable Ahwinahwi Solomon, the representative of Ughelli North/South/Udu Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, to ask about the project and why it had not been built despite the allocation. The Ministry of Health was also informed, but nothing was done about it till the expiration of the 2016 budget.
The project resurfaced in the 2017 Budget, and in a bid to ensure service delivery, Tracka swung into action.
“We revved up our advocacy in Ekrota community; we again engaged the indigenes, wrote letters to the Honourable and the ministry in charge of the project. And on September 8, 2017, we visited Ekrota in a bid to help them tell their story to the world,” Tracka team leader, Uadamen Ilevbaoje, said.
While addressing the team, the President-General of Ekrota community, Mr. S. Wini, said the people had land for the construction of their health centre since 2016. He expressed disappointment that 2017 was running to an end, yet Ekrota had not seen any contractor to the project site.
A nurse in the community simply called Mrs. Mira but popularly known as ‘Aunty Nurse’, who caters to the health needs of the community, spoke about the urgent need of the health centre.
“Whenever there is severe labour or emergency cases, it is not possible for me alone to take care of such cases and we have no choice than refer those patients to a health centre,” she said.
“The closest health centre to us is about two hours away. As you can imagine, this has led to the death of some patients with dire health conditions. We need the government to assist us.”
The youth leader of the community also said that the proposed land for the health centre is still there.
“We are waiting for the contractors to show up. We need the health centre as a matter of exigency,” he said.
Meanwhile, in October 2017, Honourable Ahwinahwi Solomon finally responded to the Tracka team and indeed the community, promising that the construction of the health centre would start as soon as funds are released because it has been left undone for too long.
“He said it was not done in 2016 because the released fund was insufficient, and it was moved to 2017 Budget,” Uadamen said.
“In March 2018, the President-General of the community reached out to the Tracka team again, this time with good news. Mr. S. Wini informed us that the construction of the health centre had started. And in April 2018, we revisited Ekrota community to see the progress of work on the site. The project had been completed.”
However, what was completed was just the building, it remains unequipped.
“An unequipped facility is just a building hence we will continue to advocate for the equipping of the healthcare facility in order to be functional,” Uadamen said. “Only then can it meet the health challenges of the indigenes.”
Until this is done, the people of Ekrota remain in danger of being denied quality healthcare, as the project is not functional yet, making it a waste of public funds.