Obitti Health Center, Ohaji, is one of the abandoned primary health care centres in Imo State. The Obitti Health Center was built by the Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Caretaker Committee and was officially commissioned by Navy Captain J.N.J Aneke, Military Administrator of Imo State, on Thursday 13th October 1994.
The health centre, after it was commissioned, functioned efficiently with patients and pregnant women being admitted, treated, and cared for, because it was effectively equipped with both human resources and medical equipment. But social facilities like electricity, water were lacking then.
For donkey years, the Obitti health centre, which does not have enough space to accommodate many patients considering the population of the community, started decaying due to neglect by the local authority after five years of kick off.
Till date, both local government authority and leaders of the community have made little or no effort to rehabilitate the decayed and neglected health centre which is the only public hospital located at the agrarian community.
The health centre is located close to WalterSmith Oil Drilling Company, but unfortunately no effort was being made by the management of the firm to revitalize the hospital for the people. WalterSmith, no doubt, pays the community huge sums which are allegedly being mismanaged, misappropriated, and siphoned by the so-called leaders of the community.
The community leaders have not also made any tangible effort to draw the attention of the management of Imo Rubber Estate Plantation Obitti or Imo State Primary Health Development Agency to the dilapidated health centre for support, instead they allegedly embezzle any fund that enters into the coffers of the community.
To state the obvious, the community is lacking in terms of infrastructure such as primary and secondary education, electricity, road, befitting market environment, recreational facilities, functional and effective healthcare system, and safe water among others. Government has totally neglected this community which generates over 30% revenue to the coffers of Imo State government.
Notably, Obitti community houses Imo Rubber Estate Plantation (which was adjudged as the largest rubber estate in West Africa, as it occupies a vast expanse of land, generating about 100 billion naira to Imo State government annually), the Oguali 1 and Oguali 2 oil field (a reserved oil location being rated as the deepest gas location in West Africa) and as an oil access road.
Currently, an indigenous oil servicing firm is prospecting oil on the soil of Obitti and yet government shies away from developing the community socially and industrially. There is no single government establishment or social presence at the agrarian community let alone human capacity development.
In an interview with News Echo some of the indigenes of the community speaking about the state of the health centre confided that weeds and animals have taken over the hospital which they frowned has been abandoned over the years as they access medication at private hospitals which charge them exorbitantly.
They however called for the attention of Imo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency to overhaul the moribund health centre to boost their health status as well as save them cost.
“My name is Chikaodi Okwudiri.
I’m a native of Obitti and an active farmer. Thank God you people came. Obitti health centre (pointing at the hospital) has stopped functioning for many years. As you can see, grass and animals have taken over the place. Little facilities there are no longer working, even ordinary beds. One cannot access medication here because there is no medicine neither will you see any nurse to attend to you.
Let government intervene as to salvage us. We are suffering a lot here due to neglect by the local government authority”.
For Mazi Ogu Ikemba, an indigene of Obitti, a farmer “The health centre has been abandoned and as you can see the roof of the building is dilapidated. There is no staff or patient admitted here and this is far from being a health centre”.
With Emeka Chikere, a farmer and trader, urging “government to rehabilitate the health centre, equip it with state-of-the-art facilities, employ well qualified workers and pay them well”.
Just as Mrs Nnenna Ekezie, a trader said that “the health centre is terribly bad. Pregnant women go to private maternity centres where they pay big bills. This community lacks electricity, secondary school, and affordable healthcare system. We do not know where we are going with bad situation of things. I’m just tired. Government should come and help us”.
Stating that the “leaders of the community have not made any good effort to revitalize the dying health centre despite funds the community generates to local and state governments. Our rubber plantation and mineral resources should not be in vain”, Ohanu Chima, a teacher and indigene of Obitti voiced out. He called on the “authority concerned to rise to the occasion to save the community from perpetual hardship”.
To this end, the Imo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, through its Executive Secretary, Rev Sister Mary- Joannes Uzoma, while assuming office, stated that the agency is committed to reducing infant maternal morbidity and mortality in the State with preference to the rural areas.
Uzoma frowned that Imo State has a high rate of infant maternal morbidity and mortality. She promised that the “agency would ensure that it promotes and develops primary healthcare centres in order to reduce diseases, deaths among infants and their mothers, just as we will reach out to all communities across Imo State to hear from them about their health challenges as to tackle them”.
The Executive Secretary added that “our primary goal is to reach out to Imo people particularly those at the rural communities with the intent of reducing child maternal morbidity and mortality. We will work with staff of the agency to achieve this target goal”.
Assuring the people of the plan and willingness of the agency to distribute health equipment to healthcare centres at the rural communities to boost primary healthcare system, Dr Joseph Obinwanne Chinemerem, Chairman of the board, reflected that the agency would rehabilitate moribund health centres at the rural areas as the agency is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining health services for the rural people.
As the people have demanded of a functional and affordable health centre, it is expected the Imo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency remember Obitti community to help them access affordable healthcare system for enhanced quality health.