The Makeourhospitalswork (MOHW) team worked with community leaders, religious leaders and the hospital staff to revamp the government cottage hospital. Image credit: Makeourhospitalswork (MOHW)
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Strengthening PHCs Through “Make Our Hospitals Work” Campaign

5 Mins read

Tzar Oluigbo (Lead Writer)

In the 1950s, the second-ever hospital was built in Igala land. Located in Ogugu community, Government Cottage Hospital was commissioned by the first Atta of the Igala community in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State, Nigeria.

However, as time passed, the hospital moved from one government administration to the next, and slowly fell into disrepair, becoming overrun with vegetation and unable to serve its intended purpose. This neglect left the residents without a functional healthcare facility, forcing them to seek medical attention elsewhere.

Residents of Ogugu community could not access health care at the Government Cottage Hospital, Ogugu due to its state. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign
Residents of Ogugu community could not access health care at the Government Cottage Hospital, Ogugu due to its state. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign

In the past five years, the situation worsened. The community of Ogugu — a population of approximately 180,000- had been grappling with the absence of a functional healthcare facility. Subsequently, the hospital was shut down and forgotten. “The community members had to stop patronising this hospital because the structure was a sore sight, having been out of the services of a doctor. With nothing happening there, they preferred to go to other communities for health care services”, said Dr Cletus Okwo, a doctor in the community.

Changing the approach

Nigeria’s primary health care (PHC) facilities have been in steady decline, with only 20% of the 30,000 PHC facilities across Nigeria fully functional. However, advocacy efforts for strengthening and increased public health financing have focused largely on the supply side with advocates urging policy makers at the federal level and state level to commit to improving PHC facilities.

To make primary health care universally accessible, especially at the community level, some level of community and individual self-sustainability is required. Such sustainability requires full community participation in the planning, administration, and management of Primary Health Care facilities. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s goal to save lives and produce health for Nigerians involves government- and citizen-led efforts to ensure social accountability and amplify citizen’s voices in the delivery of health services.

The MakeOurHospitalWork Campaign aims to contribute to this goal by inspiring citizens to take responsibility, leading strategic advocacy, and mobilising local resources to make hospitals in their communities operate sustainably.

Empowering community engagement

The campaign mobilises community members, healthcare professionals, and other stakeholders to advocate for and implement solutions to improve hospitals. This may involve activities such as fundraising, infrastructure renovations, equipment procurement, staffing initiatives, and community engagement efforts to raise awareness and garner support.

The adoption process starts with a baseline assessment of the hospital’s current functionality to identify areas for improvement, followed by the preparation of a wish list based on the results of the assessment. Armed with this critical information, the team then set out to develop a comprehensive advocacy plan tailored to the unique needs of the Government Cottage Hospital. They engaged with local leaders, religious leaders, stakeholders, and community members, rallying support for their cause and raising funds to address key deficiencies. Through grassroots mobilisation efforts, fundraising initiatives, and strategic partnerships, they began to chip away at the barriers standing in the way of quality healthcare delivery.

Nigeria Health Watch
Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

With each milestone reached, the impact of the adoption became increasingly tangible. Essential medical supplies were procured, infrastructure upgrades were initiated, and healthcare professionals received much-needed training and support. As the hospital began to undergo a remarkable transformation, residents of Ogugu regained confidence in their local healthcare system, knowing that vital services were once again within reach.

At the community level, the campaign is considered successful when the healthcare facility is fully functional, the quality of healthcare services improves, and the community is actively involved in the governance of the facility, as is the case with the Government Cottage Hospital, Ogugu.

Restored to greatness

“The hospital was almost dead, it was like a mini forest” Ekele Caleb, Team Lead of the Ogugu Makeourhospitalwork campaign shared. The transformation of the Ogugu Cottage Hospital amongst many others is the fruit of the dedicated community members and the support of traditional and religious leaders through the MakeOurHospitalWork campaign. The campaign rallied citizens to rebuild and restore the once-forgotten health centre, giving hope to the residents of Ogugu, Kogi State.

Government Cottage Hospital, Ogugu was like a mini forest before the Make Our Hospitals Work campaign. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign
Government Cottage Hospital, Ogugu was like a mini forest before the Make Our Hospitals Work campaign. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign

**Jumoke a community resident delivered her baby at the Government Cottage Hospital Ogugu following the renovation. “After her C/S, within days she was already walking fine”. Jumoke’s husband shared.

The Hospital and staff quarters after it had been renovated as a result of the Makeourhospitalswork campaign. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign
The Hospital and staff quarters after it had been renovated as a result of the Makeourhospitalswork campaign. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign

According to Dr Cletus, several patients are now able to access care at the Government Cottage Hospital Ogugu because it is also very affordable. “A patient who was taken to a faraway hospital 73km from a neighbouring village in Ogugu for treatment needed a major operation. The Doctors requested he deposit #120,000 before they can commence the operation! He pleaded with #70,000 but they refused! He was brought to Ogugu Cottage Hospital….he had intestinal perforation”. According to Dr Cletus, the family of the patient made the little deposit required and he was operated upon immediately. “The young man is now hale and hearty to the Glory of God” Caleb added.

Significant strides

The MakeOurHospitalWork campaign in Ogugu, Kogi State brought about significant improvements to the Government Cottage Hospital. The campaign’s accomplishments are numerous and diverse, ranging from infrastructural enhancements to community engagement initiatives. One of the most noticeable signs of progress is the installation of a new hospital signage.

Routine cleanup efforts have also contributed to maintaining a clean and hygienic environment for patients and staff alike. “The campaign facilitated the employment of a health attendant with a philanthropist generously funding the salary for nearly three years,” Dr Cletus said. Additionally, donations from various sources, such as plastic chairs, curtains, and bedsheets, have enhanced the comfort and functionality of the hospital.

The new signage at the Government Cottage Hospital Ogugu, is one of the notable signs of the new and improved facility. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign

The campaign’s impact extends to other states and communities. So far, the campaign has spread to the 36states and over 1,300 communities. A doctor carrying out National Youth Service (NYSC) has also been employed and the once dysfunctional government cottage hospital Ogugu, now holds the only diabetic centre in the north central facilitated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

In Ebonyi State, Amogudu health centre was built and completed. In Amata, the abandoned townhall was renovated to become the primary health care centre, having been moved from a rented property.

A few road blocks

While the MakeOurHospitalWork campaign in Ogugu, Kogi State has achieved significant strides in revitalising the Government Cottage Hospital, it has not been without its challenges. One major limitation facing the campaign is the presence of political differences within the community. These differences can sometimes hinder the smooth implementation of the initiative, as varying political affiliations may lead to conflicting interests and priorities among community members.

Another obstacle faced by the campaign is the task of convincing community members to fully embrace the initiative. Despite the tangible benefits brought about by the revitalisation of the hospital, some individuals remain sceptical or resistant to change.

The Government Cottage Hospital Ogugu, now holds the only diabetic centre in the north central. Image credit: Make Our Hospitals Work Campaign

Efforts to strengthen Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) stand as a cornerstone in the journey toward achieving equitable and accessible healthcare for all. Through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s health sector renewal initiative, the government of Nigeria intends to increase the service readiness of 17,000 PHCs and 774 secondary facilities across Nigeria between 2023–2026.
 
However, patient and citizen participation will be central to achieving sustainable health services in these facilities. As we continue to advocate, innovate, and invest in our PHCs, we are certain that each step forward brings us closer to realising the vision of a healthier future for all Nigerians. Together, we can MakeOurHospitalsWork, one PHC at a time.

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