September 18

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Changing Communities

The Chief (Madaki) of the Pyakasa community in Abuja, Nigeria was very happy to see us on this rainy day. We were there to ‘sensitize’ the community to the Community Based Social Health Insurance Program (CBSHIP) Only about a week ago a women died here of a very manageable health condition -Hypertension. The woman was taken to the local clinic sick and no one was available at the clinic. By the time she was transported to a medical facility she passed away. This was because she belonged to this very poor community that could not afford to have a community health clinic. In a city like Abuja which is the federal capital of Nigeria these situations still exist.

Pykasa community has over 5000 people. The head of the community the chief is treated with a lot of respect, some of the community members perform their traditional three step prostrate before taking their seat on the floor to hear what the community health center project would entail. At question and answer session one member brings up a valid observation ‘We do not go to the doctor or hospital unless we are so sick that we have to be carried there’. A statement that makes me wonder if this community center like many others will die a natural death.

Healthcare is a right of every human being and before the community health clinic is up and running there are so many steps to be accomplished. The NGO, Jhpiego who I work for, sets standards of care, hygiene, training of staff, monitoring and evaluation of all these functions to ensure the patients get the standardized global healthcare that they deserve. I have adopted this community to be the role model for Jhpiego’s services to the private sector communities in Nigeria.

In my role as a volunteer I hope to be able to come up with a sustainable model that can be adopted whereby every community health center in the remotest areas of Nigeria is self sustaining and available to every woman and her family wherever they live and whatever their circumstances be. To achieve this even in one small community like Pyakasa, Abuja is a start to my goal of changing communities in my PULSE assignment