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Makoko needs a health centre

We wish to notify the governor of Lagos State, Akninwummi Ambode, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the Committees in Charge of Primary Health Care in the National and Lagos State Houses of Assembly, of the ongoing state matricide and infanticide in Makoko axis of Lagos State.

Makoko, which is a suburb in Lagos Island, has a reputation for environmental pollution. The terrain has a growing population of more than 84,000 persons who live in the slump islands. You are well aware that inhabitants of Makoko live in makeshift camps built on top of greasy waters and cohabitated by the poorest of the poor Nigerians, including fishermen.

We recall the unsuccessful attempts by government to demolish the town and displace the people without adequate plans to relocate them to safer places. In July 2012, a partial demolition that displaced 3,000 persons occurred in Makoko. It was reported that the then governor of Lagos State had the intention of redeveloping the town.  Two months after the partial demolition, a SERAC housing affiliate known as the Urban Spaces Innovation developed a regeneration plan for Makoko that would bring the community together with academics, non-profits, and international consultants. The plan was submitted to the Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Physical Planning in January 2014 but until now, nothing is done to redeem the town.

Our attention has also been drawn to the fact that government did not only abandon Makoko and its inhabitants, it has also failed to site any Health Care Centre in the suburb.   Only four private clinics, which cannot handle the needs of the inhabitants who regularly suffer from various forms of ailments including malaria, cholera etc, are located in the suburb. These clinics mostly referred patients to government hospitals in places like Yaba, which is the closest to Makoko. Young teenage girls who get impregnated by idle youths in the community have no access to antenatal or postnatal care. In such state of naivety while trying to give birth at home, the teenage girls lose their life and that of their babies. The number of lives lost through such self-help in the process of delivery is contributing to the daily maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria.

We also bring to your attention to the minimum requirements of establishing PHCs in Nigeria, which provides that a Comprehensive Health Centre (Known as a model PHC) should be located in a ward. The requirement also provides for Maternity Centre, Basic Health Centre, 1 per group of villages/ neighborhoods’ with about 2,000 – 5000 person to be managed by the Ward development Committee.

The non-existence of a Primary Health Care Centre in Makoko is a gross violation of the duties of government at all levels including the state and federal government. It is a bridge to the right to health and life of the people of the community.

Emejuiwe Victor, writes Abuja

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