Primary Health Care (PHC) in Nigeria

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The Alma Ata declaration rightly asserts that good health is a fundamental human right (WHO, 1978). Abdulraheem et al (2012) holds that the goal of the national primary healthcare (PHC) was to ensure accessible health services to all by the year 2000 and thereafter. However, four decades after, Nigeria is yet to attain these and the ability to surmount these in the next decade stands uncertain. Hence the primary objective of establishing PHCs is to make health facilities at the reach of everyone regardless of class (WHO, 1978).

Though PHC lies at the foundation of Nigeria’s healthcare system, it presently caters for less than a third of the supposed beneficiaries (Gupta et al, 2004). The government, prior to the 2016 health policy. had launched a national health policy in 1988 and 2004 with the aim of implementing a comprehensive health system founded on a PHC that is preventive, promotive and rehabilitative to all citizens thereby ensuring good quality of life for everyone (NHP,2016).

Healthcare services as delivered by the  PHCs focus on educating people on how to address their health challenges as well as how to control or prevent such. Other purposes of the PHC include: (a) the promotion of balanced nutrition, and (b) implementation of safe childcare policies, especially on the immunization and prevention of diseases (Abdulraheem, et al, 2012). According to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the onus of providing and sustaining the PHC system rests on the third tier of the government which is the local government under guidance from the state health ministry to enforce compliance with national health policies (Nigeria constitution, 1999).

However, private medical practitioners as well as international aid agencies like UNICEF, WHO, USAID keyed in immensely with the sole purpose of providing functional health facilities and quality care services to the reach of every individual and household, especially in the poor rural dwellers (Uzochukwu et al, 2002). PHC services are made available to the public through health centres and outposts administered by a team of professional medical practitioners (e.g. doctors, nurses, midwives, community health officers, as well as heath workers and technicians (Abdulmalik et al, 2013).


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