By Kolawole Omoniyi
By day, this yellow, rickety pickup truck [three paragraphs down] is meant for moving heavy loads – mostly firewood – from one village to another around Jali community in Tudunwada Local Government Area of Kano State.
At night, it is the only vehicle in the community which is 120 kilometres from Kano city. It is always on standby to move any prospective patient due to the lack of a standard healthcare facility and poor road network in the village.
Even though the truck appears unkempt and inconducive to patients’ good, its owner, Haruna Sani, 45, says he has used it to rescue over 80 patients – mostly pregnant women – from the community in the last 15 years.
For them, this ramshackle truck is the closest thing to an ambulance in a night emergency – and the difference between living through an emergency and dying in one.
Sani’s gesture is humanitarian, but Hassana Ibrahim was not lucky enough to enjoy it.
She had already been laid in the back of the truck when the vehicle’s kick starter went bust, the driver explains.
A group of hefty men was mobilised to push the truck for nearly 30 minutes. Then the trip of over 20km to the nearest hospital began.
Unfortunately, Hassana died on the way.
“Perhaps Hassana wouldn’t have died if my truck was in a good condition that day,” Sani says.
“She was already inside the truck in labour pains when we started pushing the vehicle for 30 minutes, so she was already tired. She later died when we were close to the hospital.”
Jali Primary Healthcare Centre is about 100 metres from the late Hassana’s house, but the centre lacks the required facilities for child delivery. This was why Hassana was being transported a further 20km before her death.
The Jali Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) is in deplorable condition despite its enlistment as a recipient of the federal government’s Basic Healthcare Provision Funds (BHCPF) scheme.
Two years after Kano as a state began its implementation; there is no visible impact of the project at the centre.
Here is why: among the stakeholders of Jali and Yaryasa PHCs in the Yaryasa ward of Tudunwada local government area, a controversy has been lingering over the rightful owner of the BHCPF project.
Akarami Nuhu Aliyu, an official of the Kano State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (KSCHMA) at Yaryasa PHC, claimed that he was among the trainees for the project at Yaryasa before it was allegedly hijacked.
According to him, the scheme was diverted due to an alleged unresolved personal dispute between Magaji Ubale, the former officer in charge of the Yarsaya PHC, and his former head of department (HOD), Medical, Suraju Sabayuki.
“All enrolees on this list are people of Yaryasa, but due to the diversion, only officials of Jali facility can access the BHCPF Bank account.
“Jali is over 20 kilometres away from Yaryasa, the enrolees cannot afford transport fare of about N800 to the village and the issue stalled BHCPF implementation at both facilities,” Aliyu explained.
Shehu Garba, a physically challenged 65-year-old man, and Elia Saleh, the 80-year-old chief imam of Yaryasa Ward are among the enrolees.
They lamented that all hopes of accessing free healthcare at the Yaryasa facility were dashed after the scheme was diverted.
When contacted on the telephone, both Ubale and Sabayuki denied having personal issues.
Both have their different explanations: Ubala linked the failure of the project to an alleged diversion by his ex-boss; Sabayuki insisted the move was a unanimous decision by all stakeholders.
The curiosity of our correspondent to clarify this allegation prompted the unscheduled visit to the hard-to-reach Jali community where the pathetic death of late Hassana occurred.
The road to Jali is bad, driving on it is a painstaking hurdle. The ongoing construction of a bridge has worsened the situation of the road.