Igbokofi Community Gets Hospital After PUNCH Healthwise Report

The era of women and children dying needless deaths in Igbokofi community, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State due to inability to access good, quality healthcare services will soon be a thing of the past as the Border Communities Development Agency says it is ready to rehabilitate and provide hospital equipment to the abandoned primary health centre donated by the National Boundary Commission.

This development came barely three months after an investigative report by PUNCH Healthwise revealed how the lack of a functional healthcare facility was responsible for high maternal and infant deaths recorded in the agrarian community.

The report with the headline, ‘Harvest of deaths: Ogun community where mothers, newborns die during childbirth’, was published on Sunday, December 17, 2023.

In the report, our correspondent chronicled how the only government hospital in the community was shut down due to a lack of health workers and the alleged government’s failure to provide necessary amenities.

The report also exposed how another hospital constructed by the National Boundary Commission, and handed over to the Ogun State government was never put to good use despite the fact that high maternal and child mortality rates plagued the community.

In the report, PUNCH Healthwise beamed the searchlight on the many difficulties faced by residents of the community, who often have to travel long distances to access healthcare, and how such venture put pregnant women and their unborn babies at increased risk of complications.

The report, however, caught the attention of BCDA officials, who reached out to PUNCH Healthwise, pledging to rehabilitate and equip the abandoned hospital.

A director with BCDA, Atarhe Akpohwaye, later led a team from the agency to the community on a fact-finding visit.

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, the director assured the residents of immediate response to their plights.

Akpohwaye, who is also the Special Adviser to the Executive Secretary, Dr Kelly Alabo, said the hospital would be renovated and equipped.

She also hinted that the agency would construct staff quarters to encourage health workers to stay at the facility.

She added, “One of the things we have discovered is that health workers don’t like coming to rural communities. So, it is always best to provide staff quarters with a certain level of facility to encourage anybody that wants to work here.

“Our executive secretary, being a proactive person, has mandated us to visit the place, understand exactly what they need and provide it for them.

“We are going to look at the abandoned hospital and look at what can be done to renovate it and also provide hospital equipment.

“Whatever we are doing is immediate because the agency’s mandate is to provide basic amenities for these rural people. And we are going to do that as soon as possible.

“We are going to sit with the community, understand what they want and then look at how best we can help them. Whatever we want to provide, we need to make sure it is something they want.”

Earlier, PUNCH Healthwise reported that Igbokofi, a town with about 9,000 people, that borders the Republic of Benin, had experienced decades of deaths, while residents face an uncertain future.

The investigation revealed how pregnant women and their unborn infants are at serious risk due to a lack of healthcare facilities and the absence of competent healthcare providers.

For Igbokofi residents, the absence of this important facility is just one of the many challenges they are faced with as the community lacks other infrastructure like good roads, electricity, and potable water.

PUNCH Healthwise learnt that they have over the years lost loved ones while transporting them to the health centre in Ijoun.

They described the road as a source of great frustration and appealed to the government to intervene.

The acting Baale of the community, Pa Jacob Ogunyomi revealed that in the last two years, childbirth complications have claimed the lives of about five pregnant women, while more than 20 children have died before they clock five.

He said several letters have been written to the government highlighting the community’s dire predicament, but none of them have been treated as urgent or important.

PUNCH Healthwise visited the abandoned health facility built by the National Boundary Commission in 2023 and observed that it was already falling apart, while the paints had practically washed off, revealing just bare cement.

The premises had been overtaken by weeds, even as the windows were broken and doors sealed with wood to prevent entry.

The residents said the hospital was built to bring healthcare closer to them but that the aim was never actualised.

While inspecting the abandoned hospital, our correspondent discovered that the damage went beyond the peeling paints and broken windows, as it was discovered that the floorboards were rotting.

However, the agency has promised to replace all to ensure the community can easily access good, quality healthcare.