In the Field: Nigeria Gure Clinic Visit
June 29, 2010
Our site visit to the Gure Clinic in Nigeria was carried out successfully in late May and was a great chance to see the progress achieved of this pilot program for Nigeria.
After several introductory meetings with the Commissioner and Deputy of the Ministry of Health for Kwara State, and the Kwara State President of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) we set out to see the clinic. Setting off very early in the morning and driving for 5 hours from the nearest city of Ilorin, made one realize just how remote and underserved some of the communities are that we serve. We were greeted warmly upon arrival by the village chief and the town council and thanked deeply for all the work we and our partners and the doctor had put into their clinic.
The clinic had been built by the Nigerian federal government several years earlier and acts as part of a national youth service program to post young intern doctors to rural communities. Based on a similar program in Israel, the network of clinics throughout Nigeria has been in place since the 1970’s. Before young doctor interns start their residencies, they are required to serve their country for one year in a rural clinic posting. The government had done a good job constructing a decent sized and solid building for this particular location in Gure, but it had no access to running water, electricity or consistent supplies of medicine or medical supplies. While the town is mid sized it is an area where the government has installed electricity poles but hasn’t yet connected it to the electrical grid, and lacks many other basic infrastructure components.
Our involvement in this clinic is serving as a pilot program to see what is possible with out partners in Nigeria, the Ministry of Health and the National Youth Service Corps. We have been primarily filling the gaps in medical personnel, medicines and medical supplies, and bringing the cleanliness and appearance up to a high standard. This clinic was initially rarely being used by the surrounding community, as the equipment and medicine supplies were usually not adequate to provide anything more than very basic healthcare. With our funding and help, the doctor we partnered with, Dr. Ufuoma, was able to provide much higher levels of care and the community has started to have a great deal more faith in what this clinic can provide.
As mentioned before, the intern doctors through the NYSC program are on 12 month stints, but there is a full permanent local medical staff to compliment the rotating doctors. Our phase one clinic improvements have gone well, and the newly painted building looked clean and inviting inside, with new mattresses for the beds, new mosquito nets, and a stock of medicine and medical supplies on hand. The staff and town were very pleased to see visitors representing both RMF/WCF and the government agencies involved. Slated for Phase II upgrades are the critical drilling of a borehole and pump system to provide consistent and clean water supply.
Also, necessary for basic clinic maintenance are the completion of full screens for the windows and an upgraded generator to supply electricity and an upgrade to the doctor accommodations onsite. Other ideas such as installing satellite TV service were also mentioned to help motivate the young intern doctors in what can be a tough rural posting for many that are originally from urban areas. The Ministry of Health deputy that accompanied us also acknowledged on this site visit that there was more that they can contribute to the clinic’s effectiveness and were glad to see one of their more rural clinic’s in action. Through the continued partnership with the MOH and the NYSC, RMF/WCF will continue to see what is possible in expanding healthcare coverage to rural Nigeria.