After years of enduring epileptic electricity supply, health workers at the Elizabeth Shaba Maternal and Child Health Clinic in Nyikangbe community, Chanchaga Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State, said power supply has improved, making it possible for them to preserve vaccines for use in during the day. Established in 2008 by the Niger State Ministry of Health, a Nigeria Health Watch report in July 2022 noted that the facility had struggled with inadequate electricity, affecting vaccine storage, deliveries and other services. Recommendations for a solar system installation, however, remain unfulfilled.
Despite the recent improvement in power supply, the clinic still lacks essential equipment in its laboratory, resulting in women being referred to other facilities for tests. It also lacks solar fridges and cold boxes, hindering vaccine storage. This forces staff to collect vaccines from the distant Kpakungun Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) on the administration day, causing delays for women, disclosed Hauwa Waziri, the second-in-charge (2IC) of the facility. Waziri added, “Deliveries in the Nyikangbe community often happen at night, making it impossible to be attended to due to consistent blackouts at night.”
Functional toilets for women seeking antenatal care (ANC) and child vaccination are still nonexistent, as existing ones were repurposed for use as stores due to plumbing issues. “This situation has deterred some patients from using the facility for fear of contracting diseases and discomfort in sharing a toilet with a security man,” lamented Waziri. Zainab Aliyu, a resident, expressed her frustration, highlighting that while she appreciates the health workers, the facility suffers shortages in staff and laboratory equipment. “Many community members opt to travel to Kpakungun for testing as they doubt the clinic’s laboratory’s ability to provide accurate results due to inadequate equipment,” explained Aliyu.
However, Halimat Mustapha, a resident and long-time patron of the facility for over three years, shared that she continues to use it due to its proximity and her husband’s preference for it over the distant Kpakungun PHC. Addressing these challenges is crucial to improving healthcare access and delivery in Nyikangbe community. Beyond commending the healthcare workers at the Elizabeth Shaba Maternal and Child Health Clinic, residents of the Nyikangbe community are demanding that the facility’s service delivery reach its full potential through the following:
- Install solar-powered systems, refrigerators and coolers to store vaccines.
- Repair and reopen the unused toilets, as the current building lacks proper facilities, discouraging patients. The existing squat toilet is meant for the security staff.
- Equip the clinic with laboratory facilities to prevent pregnant women from travelling long distances for tests.